Moscow authorities have a reputation for knocking down buildings with alarming frequency, but the latest demolition has an unlikely target: nuns. Officials ordered the demolition of a homeless shelter run by the Missionaries of Charity organisation, set up by Mother Teresa, this week.
The demolition began after it was discovered that, when the shelter opened in 1990, one of the necessary documents had not been properly completed. The nuns said that the error with the documents was an honest mistake, and berated the Moscow government for not trying to reach an understanding.
"We are deeply saddened that, as a result of this conflict, an important part of our work has been brought to an end," said the statement. "The sisters of Mother Teresa have carried out an important service to the city and its residents over many years, without asking for financial help from the city authorities."
Moscow city officials were unrelenting, saying that the building had been put up illegally. They added that local residents had complained that their area had been inundated with homeless people from the shelter.
Ironically, the news came just days before a statue to Mother Teresa is due to be unveiled in Moscow.