Tuesday, June 18, 2024

    Russian Orthodox Church buys up real estate near military bases in Norway

    The Russian Orthodox Church has in recent years bought several properties in Norway. One of them has a full view of Norway’s most important naval base, Haakonsvern.

    The view is “uncomfortably good,” says the security expert as the head of the ROC stands shoulder to shoulder with Vladimir Putin, according to Dagbladet.

    Information obtained by Dagbladet shows how a congregation in Bergen associated with the Patriarchate in Moscow has established itself close to one of the Norwegian Armed Forces’ most important installations, the report says.

    Haakonsvern outside Bergen is the navy’s most important port and base.

    Information from the Property Register shows that in 2017 the congregation Christ’s Revelation Congregation bought the Søreide prayer house. The building is 3 kilometers from Haakonsvern. From the plot there is a full overview of the approach and large parts of the naval base.

    The Russian Orthodox Church has, through various congregations, bought several properties in Norway in recent years.

    In Stavanger, a former leader of the local Russian Orthodox congregation owns a property near the NATO Joint War Center on Jåttå. The home is located one kilometer from the important military facility and about fifteen minutes’ walk from there.

    In addition, the church has a congregation at Kirkenes in Finnmark, one mile from the border with Russia. They bought this property in 2015.

    The area is known for having a large exchange with Russia, and many Russians also live on the Norwegian side of the border.

    In addition, the congregation has a church building in Oslo. They have been here since 1996.

    Alfa Sefland Winge, who runs research on socially critical infrastructure and preparedness at the Naval Academy, says Russian-owned properties such as Haakonsvern can be a problem.

    “There may be a possibility that such buildings are used for something other than religious purposes,” she suggested.

    “If you imagine the whole range of possible measures, then you can disrupt signals, perhaps eavesdrop on signals, you can control drones from there, you can offer accommodation to people who map the area. There is a wide range of surveying activity and possible disruptions that can be carried out from such a base,” the security expert believes.