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Church bell sold to U.S. by Bolsheviks returns to Moscow

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The first bell of an ensemble belonging to Moscow's St. Daniel's Monastery belfry has returned to Moscow after chiming for over 70 years in the United States, a spokesman for a cultural and historical heritage foundation said Saturday.
MOSCOW, January 16 (RIA Novosti) - The first bell of an ensemble belonging to Moscow's St. Daniel's Monastery belfry has returned to Moscow after chiming for over 70 years in the United States, a spokesman for a cultural and historical heritage foundation said Saturday.

The two-ton bell is the fourth largest of 18 bells sold by the Bolsheviks to a U.S.-based industrialist in 1930, who subsequently gave them to Harvard University.

"An aircraft from New York has just landed at Sheremetyevo Airport with the bell on board," said Alexander Petrov of Svyaz Vremyon (Link of Times).

The bell will be open to the public September 12 during St. Daniel's commemoration ceremony.

The St. Daniel's Monastery ensemble of bells was put together over a period of two centuries. The largest of its three major bells, weighing about 12 tons, was cast in 1890 at the Finlandsky plant, in Moscow.

Under a deal signed in March, the remaining 17 bells are to return by the fall of 2008.

In the 1930s, Soviet authorities closed the cloister down, and were planning to recast its belfry. But the U.S. industrialist Charles Crane signaled that he was willing to buy the bells for the price of their bronze.

He then offered them as a gift to Harvard University, and in 1931 they were installed in the tower of a newly built campus dorm, Lowell House, to chime for a quarter of an hour every Sunday and holiday, as well as to signal football games.

Attempts to return the bells have been ongoing since the 1980s, but progress was made only in 2004, when Svyaz Vremyon assumed all the costs of the repatriation.

Making replicas of the bells was one of the terms of the deal, and the copies arrived in New York in late August.

Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Alexy II called the replicas "the best church art in modern history" and consecrated them before their departure.

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