Strasbourg Court Issues Second Ruling in Favor of Bulgaria's Alternative Synod
The Strasbourg European Court of Human Rights mandated that Bulgaria must pay EUR 50,000 damages to the so-called 'alternative' or 'Inokentii' church synod.
The decision is a continuation of a prior verdict in June, in which the Court of Human Rights decided that the Bulgarian state has unduly forced Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox to worship under only one church by chasing out clergy from the 'alternative' synod out of temples.
The Strasbourg court mandated in June that the two parties should negotiate damages between themselves, but its decision was snubbed by Bulgarian authorities, with the cabinet taking no decision on the issue.
Cabinet representatives have stated that they see the hundreds of millions of euro claimed by the Inokentii synod as grossly exagerated
The schism in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church was started in 1992 when a group of senior clergy headed by Nevrokop metropolitan bishop Pimen decided to split from the rest, claiming that a church headed by allegedly communist-related Patriarch Maxim is illegitimate.
The rightist Union of Democratic Forces cabinet of PM Filip Dimitrov was instrumental in supporting the rebel clergy and even attempted to ban the prior synod headed by Maxim, only to be countered by Bulgarian courts.
In 1998 Pimen repented in front of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, but after his death one year later the schism was flared up by his successor in the alternative synod Inokentii.
In 2004, the Bulgarian police stormed through 250 churches countrywide and detained many priests of the 'alternative' synod to restore proprietorship to the official Bulgarian Orthodox Church.