On the 4th of May 2001 the monastery was granted the right to farm indefinitely an area of 46 acres as stipulated by the State Act II KM n°002916.
It should however be noted that before the Revolution of 1917 the land owned was far more extensive.
On the 4th of July 2001 a group of Tartar fundamentalists supported by the present administrative leader of the Bakchisaray district, Ilmi UMEROV, who was at the same time president of the illegal "Medjlice" faction of Bakchisaray decided to take justice into their own hands and take possession of the land which traditionally belonged to the monastery using sticks and stones.
On the 6th of December 2005 the general governor of the monastery and all the monks were invited to the open Administrative Assembly of the Bakchisaray district. On that occasion the representatives of the Tartar minority politely asked for the return of a 12-acre area of land situated in the proximity of Croix Poklonni to the city. They promised a large sum of money in exchange, in order to extend the territory at the expense of the city, to build a road around the property and to allow new building without authorisation from the Executive Committee.
It must be remembered that the Orthodox Church was founded about 2000 years ago on rules settled by the 7 Sacred Oecumenical Councils. For instance, referring to the 12th rule of the 7th council in 787 we may read: "if it can be proved that the bishop or the superior either sold to the public authorities or offered to a third person the goods belonging to a diocese or a monastery, this action would be considered null and void."
The rule of the Holy Apostles also says that the bishop should look after the ecclesiastical goods and answer for their proper administration. He is not their owner and therefore cannot either give up or sell what belongs to God.
If a poor man asks, he may be offered something in consideration of his poverty, but under no circumstances can anyone sell what belongs to the Church. Even if the land is considered to be expensive or useless, it cannot be surrendered to local political leaders but only to clergy or farmers.
If anyone buys back such land belonging to clergy or to farmers, the sale will not be ratified. What has been sold must be given back to the diocese or monastery. The bishop of the diocese or the superior involved in such a business must be evicted as well as any other people dishonestly selling what they do not own.
The archimandrite Siluane made no concession. He was accused by the press of narrow-mindedness and of being incapable of making the slightest compromise. According to Article n°25 of the Ukrainian Law of 08/06/2000 which refers to the protection of cultural heritage "both legal and physical parties are bound to insure the integrity of the monuments occupying the land they farm".
According to Article n°125 of the Ukrainian Land Code, "the owner of a land parcel has the right to build lodgings and any other industrial structures and buildings". Article n°125 also says: "the owner of a land parcel is bound to enclose his lot". According to the conclusion of the report n° 427 of 29/08/2005 concerning the possibility of building an enclosure for the monastery, as stated by the Crimea branch of the Archaeological Institute of the Academy of National Sciences of Ukraine (Ref. n°140), on the 1st of November 2006 the monastery of the Holy Dormition officially addressed M. Kretov, the representative of municipality in Bakchisaray, with a request for authorisation to carry out a study of the feasability of building an enclosure surrounding the whole area of the monastery.
A copy of the conclusion of the above-mentioned report was presented for consultation to the Park of Game Reserve, History and Culture in Bakchisaray.
Meanwhile the media started a campaign of defamation against the monastery. Thus, on 09/11/2006 on the Zigabiznessinform website an article appeared entitled: "Conflict looming in Crimea: monuments in danger". On 18/11/2006 the n°218 of the newspaper "The Government Press" published an article by Alexandre Kulik entitled "Conflict out of disagreement".
The representative of the Ukrainian President in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, M. Moskal Guennady, declared that an act of possession for the monasteryÂ¹s land is not available because the Museum of Game Reserve owns property documents for the same land going back to 1960. Consequently the Court called in a prosecutor.
In fact, the copy of the State Act produced by the Game Reserve was skilfully faked, with an illegible stamp. A thorough examination of the document proves that it actually concerns the Museum of city-caves which disappeared 5 years ago.
The question of the coarse forgery appears to concern nobody and the prosecutor seems incapable of making any decision. Moreover, public opinion is being actively manipulated: it is rumoured for instance that the monastery would forbid Muslims access to the Zindjirli-medressa and the Gasi-Mansur cemetery.
On the 21st of November 2006 the monastery received authorisation from the Executive Committee of the City Council of Bakchisaray to undertake construction work on the Tchuruk-Su river. The project included building 100 metres of the monastery enclosure wall along the river bank. As the deadline for beginning the work became imminent, only the authorisation from the Gask of Bakchisaray was missing, but the monastery expected it to arrive in due time.
However, in a letter dated the 11th of December 2006 and bearing the reference number KO-29, M. UMEROV, the President of the administration of the District of Bakchisaray, expressed his doubts as to whether a positive answer was forthcoming. The start of the works posed two major problems :
1) building the Holy Doors and their 200-metre enclosure;
2) building the 130-metre protection wall for the north-western land plot on the north-eastern slope of the Mariampol gorge.
On the 11th of january 2007 the monastery of the Dormition asked the municipality for authorisation to begin prospecting for the building of the Holy Doors and the enclosure wall for the north-eastern land plot on the north-eastern slope of the Mariampol gorge. Due to the movements of the Tartars around the site of the enclosure of the Holy Doors, the superior of the monastery, archimandrite Siluan, made the following decisions during the conference which took place in the headquarters of the Bakchisaray administration on the 23rd of January 2007 :
It is well known that some people consider that the building of the Holy Doors would prevent access by Muslims and members of other religions from to their own sacred places: cemeteries, the Tchufout-Kal etc. The general plan of the monastery, drawn up by the "KrimNiiproekt Institute", taking into consideration the decision of the municipal council of the Ministry of architecture and environmental policy, provides for two additional access points to the Zingili Medresa area: the first by the Bassenko road (an ancient entry closed by decision of the executive staff of the free health center), and the second by the Tchurouk-Sou river.
These two points of access have been included in the general building plan, which even mentions the possibility of a passage to the Tchurouk-Kale and to the cemeteries by a road crossing monastery land. In order to bypass the Holy Doors, I propose that those of other faiths who prefer not to pass under the Orthodox Cross take the Bassenko road up to the Holy Doors and then continue across the land towards the slope.
I also propose that the doors should include a reference to Muslim symbolism by the representation of minarets and crescents, at the expense of the monastery. These will replace the existing entrance doors on the land of the Natural Reserve (the light blue doors of the reception hall). I also suggest that the doors should bear the mention that they are donated by the monastery of the Dormition and that they have been restored with respect to to tradition and are open to everyone. Above the Holy Doors of the monastery there will be no orthodox symbolism. These will be only partition doors between the monastery land and the city land. The inscription will also point out that the Holy Doors are a reconstruction of those which were destroyed during the time of troubles.
At the entrance of the old city there is a monument commemorating Ismael Gasprinski, a poet, writer and public personality. This painted plaster cast monument has lost its original colours due to erosion by the weather. I hereby express my intention to repaint the monument twice a year in spring and autumn for as long as I live. This initiative will be at my own expense.
I shall also plant flowers around the monument and take care of them thereafter. I shall do all this in order to show my respect for the Tartars and their faith, for, as the Bible says: there is no Jew, no Greek, no slave, no free man, no man or woman: they are all equal before Christ.
Ismail Gasprinski wrote these famous words on the relationship between Tartars and Russians:"I would not spend a single drop of ink on these lines if I questioned for a minute the brilliant future of the country and the Islamism it shelters. I believe that sooner or later Russian Islamism, raised in the heartland of Russia, will become a leader of thought and civilisation throughout the Islamic world".(I. Gasprinski, "Islamism in Russia". Simferopol, 1881).
Moreover I propose to celebrate the Liturgy in the Tartar language once a week, although this is not the moment to take a decision on this question. I only hope that we may once again find the peace and security which existed before 1917 between the monastery, its superiors and the khans, when there was no recrimination between the communities but only peace, mutual help and love".