The songs of a city in protest. What Yekaterinburg and its musicians are singing and saying about the fight against a new cathedral

Days of protests against the planned construction of St. Catherine’s Cathedral have not only put the social tensions of Yekaterinburg on display; they have served as a reminder that the city is one of the most musical places in Russia. Many of the locals protesting at the cathedral’s planned construction site have brought musical instruments along with them or blasted their favorite songs through Bluetooth speakers to get the crowd to sing along. Local musicians have also begun speaking out about plans to build the cathedral in place of a central square. Meduza collected the opinions of several of the city’s major artists alongside the songs they have dedicated to their hometown.

Yekaterinburg mayor suspends construction of cathedral, pending local survey

Yekaterinburg Mayor Alexander Vysokinsky has suspended the construction of a cathedral in October Square Park, delivering a surprising, if temporary, victory for demonstrators who have protested the project for four consecutive days. Vysokinsky says construction work will not resume unless the project wins the approval of local residents in a sociological survey.

Russia’s Channel One cancels ‘The Voice Kids’ results after suspected cheating in favor of celebrity singer’s daughter

Russia’s state-owned Channel One has canceled the results of this season’s The Voice Kids final, RBC reported. The cybersecurity company Group-IB, which was hired to investigate anomalies in the final vote, reported that bots had submitted over 8,000 SMS votes in favor of a single candidate. That candidate was 10-year-old Mikella Abramova, the daughter of the popular singer Alsou and the banker Yan Abramov, who had been declared this season’s winner. Group-IB representatives did not specify whether any other competitors had benefited from dishonest voting methods.

St. Catherine’s Cathedral LLC. Two billionaires are bankrolling a controversial construction project in Yekaterinburg, and just wait until you see the multifunctional center they’ve got planned for across the street

Supporters of a project in Yekaterinburg to build a new cathedral over one of the city’s few public parks have denied any commercial motivations. “We’re not talking about another shopping mall here,” one spokesman told a group of protesters this week at a meeting assembled by Sverdlovsk Governor Yevgeny Kuivashev. “An Orthodox cathedral would add both spiritually and aesthetically to the city,” the man explained. Based on a new report by Irina Pankratova at The Bell and earlier investigative work by other media outlets, however, St. Catherine’s Cathedral was in fact developed as part of a sweeping redesign of the entire October Square area. The church will join a colossal multifunctional center with housing, office space, a gym, and a shared underground parking lot, as well as several other new buildings.

The ‘Ural Hulk’ and friends: We identified the trained fighters trying to break up protests in Yekaterinburg

Protests against the destruction of a city square in central Yekaterinburg have entered their third day. Hundreds and sometimes thousands of the city’s residents have taken to the streets to oppose the planned construction of a cathedral in place of the square. Protesters began their first day of protests on May 13 by knocking down the fence surrounding the proposed construction site. Several hours later, groups of young men wearing athletic clothing pushed them out of the square. Although the men acted aggressively, the police officers present did not interfere. Meduza asked journalist Grigory Leiba to find out who the young men were. The bands of ‘cathedral defenders’ turned out to include champion martial arts fighters, members of the recently founded RMK Martial Arts Academy, and regulars at local gyms. The latter group, sources told Meduza, were offered money in exchange for dispersing protesters.