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Church and government leaders confer


By Aleksei Batygin
Rossiiskaia gazeta, 21 November 2000

Nowadays meetings of governmental and religious leaders, scholars, and pastors have become normal. Because in their efforts, goals, and priorities they have much in common.

This was particularly manifest in the academic and action conference "Church-state relations at the boundaries of the 20th-21st centuries," which was held last Friday at the capital's "President Hotel." The participants in the meeting themselves called it a "round table," where nothing interfered with normal dialogue, which at times became discussion and dispute that were more typical of a classroom.

Thus, for example, one of the "round table" participants lamented the absence of the Law of God from school curricula. The first deputy minister of education of RF, Alexander Kiselev, shouted: too soon! In Russia there are 70,000 educational institutions. Where could so many qualified pastors and sincere believers be found? In the opinion of Alexander Fedorovich it is wrong to require the study of religion in schools: such a revolutionary approach could only create hostility while in such a sensitive matter a voluntary approach is preferable. Nevertheless the "Fundamentals of Orthodox Culture" course has been introduced into the curriculum of the Voronezh, Kursk, and Belgorod provinces as an experiment.

Kiselev, in his address, explained why the state and church now are not simply finding a common language but are even preparing to enter the twenty-first century hand-in-hand. In Russia the church is separated from the state, the first deputy minister noted, but the church is not separated from society and, even more, it has been an essential part of it for centuries. Moreover in particular, in an area like education the interests of the state and church correspond.

The achievement of such interests is connected with the spiritual linkage of the generations which have been created over centuries. This is what keeps society from falling apart, functioning as a bridge between the past and the future.

Or take the matter of training, which, after all, is a truly Russian tradition. However the participants in the meeting stressed that at times our national school system, including the universities, have undermined the concept. The Russian school system in the broadest sense is nowadays more often functioning as a school of the mind and intellect and not as a school for training the heart and spirit.

At present, as we see, the church is not locked  up in its own little world. One of the leaders of the "round table," Metropolitan Mefody of Voronezh and Lipetsk, simply and clearly disclosed the changing tasks of the church as it moved step-by-step with the outside world into the third millennium. "Today we cannot talk about the church simply as a participant in the Peace Fund," Master Mefody explained. "Today the church has ceased to be an isolated institution. The Russian Orthodox church has become the church of the majority; that is a matter of statistics."

In essence the same thing was said by the second cochairman of the conference at the "President Hotel," the assistant to the director of the chief administration of domestic policies for the RF presidency, Sergei Abramov. In particular, he emphasized the significance of the united efforts of the state and church in strengthening peace and harmony in the country.

Speeches by meeting participants also included reference to former church property with respect to the preservation and development of the historic and cultural heritage. In this matter it was emphasized that before resolving this question it is necessary to define the parameters of the legal field.

The church always has helped those who have fallen into trouble and it will be true to this principle in the twenty-first century as well.  (tr. by PDS, posted 25 November 2000)

Antisemitic beating of Rutskoy aide


Former Rutskoy aide Sergei Maksachev beaten right in the provincial administration building

by Sergei Mulin
Segodnia, 21 November 2000

The incident of the beating of Sergei Maksachev, a former aide of ex-governor Alexander Rutskoy, that happened within the walls of the Kursk provincial administration the day after the inauguration of the new head of the province, the communist Alexander Mikhailov, threatens to become one of the dismal omens of Russia's modern history.

As stated in a letter sent to Procurator General Vladimir Ustinov by ex-governor Rutskoy himself, on 19 November at 12:30 the newly elected head of the province, Mikhailov, "who is known for his views with regard to antisemitism," invited the authorized representative for the province of the Russian government, vice governor Maksachev, to his office in the administration building where he first submitted his resignation and then for three and a half hours was brutally beaten by several "athletically built men" in one of the offices of the same building. Someone who identified himself as a general lieutenant of the GRU and first deputy to the governor, Vasily Oleinikov (according to Rutskoy), said something to the effect: "Well, zhid-face, we didn't knock off the head zhid, but we will finish you off!" Maksachev's "father is a Jew by nationality," Rutskoy explains.

Segodnia has learned from a source in the Mikhailov administration, they intended to interpret Rutskoy's statement originally as a "regular public relations move" and even scheduled a press conference for 3:00 p.m.  However at the last minute the event was postponed. Rather, the ardor of the accusers was dampened by the latest news from Moscow, namely of the intention of the president's administration "to investigate all the circumstances of the incident" and the readiness of the General Procuracy "to check the facts." The text of the statement of the ex-governor still had not reached Bolshaia Dmitrovka, but there it was declared that "in view of the role and personality of Rutskoy the examination of the facts alleged by him will be conducted under the personal supervision of the procurator general."

The acting press secretary of the new Kursk governor, Valery Sadykov, told a Segodnia  reporter that Alexander Mikhailov, in his turn, ordered the provincial UVD [Administration of Internal Affairs] to investigate and report what the case was there. And a person with the name Oleinikov in the staff of the administration, rather in the position of first deputy to its chief, it turns out, "does not exist and never has." Although a personal aide of Mikhailov specified that no vice governor has been appointed yet and quickly hung up the phone. The office of the federal inspector of the Russian presidency, Viktor Surzhikov, also refused comment.  (tr. by PDS, posted 22 November 2000)


In three days it has replaced three occupants

by Petr Akopov,
Izvestiia, 22 November 2000

Arrests have begun in Kursk. This is the investigation of the Sunday brawl in the building of the provincial administration as the result of which a former aide of ex-governor Rutskoy, Sergei Maksachev, wound up in the hospital. For "intention to cause harm to the health" of Maksachev, Vasily Oleinikov, who had just been appointed first deputy of the new governor  Mikhailov, was arrested.

On Monday evening President Putin ordered Procurator General Ustinov "to take personal control of the investigation of the incident" in Kursk province. And by Tuesday morning the provincial procurator had opened a criminal case and arrested Oleinikov. Governor Mikhailov immediately left for Moscow and Izvestiia was told that the chief of staff of the administration, Boitsov, now occupies Oleinikov's office.

Under guard in a Kursk hospital, Sergei Maksachev claims that he was beaten and tortured by persons who demanded that he give evidence against his boss and who called him "Zhid-face." But this whole story is more like the new regime's taking money from the old or simply an ordinary fight.

Maksachev was not simply vice governor and authorised representative of the head of the province of the government of Russia; he was Rutskoy's closest aide. Earlier his position had been that of "first counsel," which is the best way to describe the relations of Sergei Ivanovich and Alexander Vladimirovich. Maksachev obeyed the most sensitive orders of Rutskoy and it is clear that it was for him that the new regime had the most questions. Extremely diverse questions, but all on a single topic:  "Where is the money?" Rutskoy is suspected of numerous embezzlements, but nothing can be proven. If, of course, Maksachev does not break. Evidently such an attempt was made by the new regime.

Sunday was Maksachev's first free day. The night before, the new governor Alexander Mikhailov had been inaugurated and all of the closest associates of Alexander Rutskoy had resigned. At noon Maksachev went to the administration building and signed his resignation and gave it to the new governor. After a conversation with Mikhailov he dropped into his former office, perhaps simply to collect his things and perhaps, as Alexander Rutskoy said, upon invitation from the new occupant of the office, the first deputy of Mikhailov, Vasily Oleinikov. What happened next is the most mysterious part of the event. According to Rutskoy, "two men of athletic build" already were waiting in Maksachev's office. They locked the door and with the words " Well, zhid-face, we didn't knock off the head zhid, but we will finish you off!" they began beating him.

The Kursk incident would not have the least bit of the resonance that it received had it not been for the single "but." The recent statement by Governor Mikhailov about Rutskoy having a Jewish mother has already gotten the resonance of a wild antisemitic outburst. After this it is not surprising that Alexander Rutskoy, offended that he was removed from the election contest (and he had very good chances of remaining governor) and then that his ancestry was questioned, has decided to get revenge fully over the fight in the provincial administration building. The public relations move by Rutskoy is understandable; he wants to avenge himself in opposition to his successor. It is also clear that to fight and beat, much less torture, a person is very bad. Especially in high offices. All of this demands careful investigation and punishment of the guilty. However it is somewhat disturbing that the question of inciting interethnic discord is being raised by a person who in 1993, at the time of the revolt against the legally elected president, said in demonstrations things that were no less nationalistic.  (tr. by PDS, posted 22 November 2000)

BBC Monitoring/ NTV, Moscow, 20 November 2000

[Presenter] It looks like a new scandal is brewing in Kursk Region. Ex-governor Aleksandr Rutskoy's aide, Sergey Maksachev, has been attacked in the regional administration's office building. Our correspondent Pavel Selin met the victim at the hospital. That is what he said:

[Maksachev, lying on the bed] Oleynikov came in and ordered to shut the door. Two more people came with him. When I asked what was going on there, a blow was delivered into my face as a reply. Then another guy jumped at me and started to strangle me. The third kicked me on the head. Thus I was off my feet and they started to beat me. This is not a right word to describe - they just started to kill me.

At first I did not understand why they are doing it. I realised it only later, when they were through with their torture. The first questions posed by them related only to Rutskoy, his economic activities and his connections and contacts. This Oleynikov told me: "So what, Yids, I did not manage to finish you and your boss off. But now I'll teach you".

This is a permanent subject: Jews, the criminals, have plundered and looted everything. It was mentioned all the time they were beating me.  (posted 22 November 2000)

by Ana Uzelac
Moscow Times, 22 November 2000

Investigators in Kursk have detained a man suspected of leading an assault on former Deputy Governor Sergei Maksachyov, the regional prosecutor's office said Tuesday.

Maksachyov has accused Vasily Aleinikov of beating him for over three hours in a locked office in the regional administration building.

According to Maksachyov, interviewed by telephone Monday from the hospital where he was being treated, Aleinikov and two "subordinates" tried to force him to disclose alleged financial machinations by former Kursk Governor Alexander Rutskoi.

Rutskoi did not run for re-election last month after getting struck from the ballot by a regional court for campaign violations hours before the vote.

Maksachyov said the beating took place last Sunday after he came to hand in his resignation to the new governor, Alexander Mikhailov, in the office next door to Mikhailov's.

Aleinikov had introduced himself as a new deputy governor and a lieutenant general of military intelligence.

Then "he shouted: 'So, kikes, we didn't manage to wipe you out the first time, but now we will,' and punched me in the face," Maksachyov said, adding his father was Jewish. "Then they locked the doors and started beating me up."

Days after being elected, Mikhailov was forced to apologize publicly to Rutskoi for anti-Semitic statements made in a televised interview.

Kursk prosecutors said in a statement that Aleinikov, who was arrested Monday evening, is "deputy director of the commercial company Altent."

"That's all we have managed to establish so far," press officer Natalya Izotova said.

Aleinikov is the main suspect in a criminal investigation opened Monday. He is suspected of "the premeditated infliction of non-life-threatening bodily harm," the statement said.

If convicted, he could spend up to three years in prison.   (posted 24 November 2000)

by Yevgenia Albats
Moscow Times, 23 November 2000

The question is not why Communist Alexander Mikhailov, the new governor of the Kursk region, is an anti-Semite. The question is why he has become so vocal about it now? The question is not why military intelligence officer Vasily Aleinikov, while beating the former Kursk deputy governor, said, "We will squeeze you, dirty kikes." The question is why did he feel that now is the time for such a move?

For centuries, Russian rulers at all levels have used anti-minority policies to run their multinational empire. Anti-Semitism, of course, was the most efficient of these. Jews -- because of their different religious beliefs, traditions, unusual clothing, etc.-- were the best candidate for the role of a common enemy. Unlike many other ethnic communities that lived within national territories, Jews were spread all across the Russian Empire even in the times of the Pale of Settlement imposed in the late 18th century by Catherine the Great and abandoned only after the 1917 February Revolution.

Jews' traditional involvement in trade and finance was a primary source of hatred from the impoverished lower classes and this hatred was effectively played up by the ruling elite. The elite saw Jews as competitors, despite all the restrictions they imposed, including, for instance, a 12 percent to 15 percent quota on Jewish enrollment at tsarist universities.

Contrary to a common misconception, Jews did not prosper in the Soviet era, either. The reason was again fear of competition, this time in the sphere of politics. The heavy involvement of ethnic Jewish intellectuals in the Bolshevik Revolution played a dirty trick on the Jewish community as a whole. As early as 1923, thousands of Zionists were arrested and taken into custody. By 1928, the publishing of books in Hebrew was forbidden. By the late 1930s, all schools that taught Yiddish were closed. Stalin-era purges wiped out the majority of Jews from the political sphere, and Stalin's "war against cosmopolitans" turned anti-Semitism into official state policy.

From that time, Jews were cut off from all the most prestigious jobs. Beginning in the mid-'60s, they were, for the most part, not allowed to work in the KGB, the foreign service or any of the leading ideological institutions of Soviet society. A quota system was introduced in all major institutions that soon reached the most prestigious universities as well. The quotas varied, but as a rule they were significantly lower than in tsarist times f usually about 3 percent to 5 percent. By virtue of their ethnicity, which was explicitly marked in their passports, Jews were doomed to be second-class citizens.

Precisely because of the restrictions that barred them from most Soviet institutions, many Jews went into business, underground at first and then later what passes for legal in Russia. Having no other option, they were quick to learn the ways of business and achieved considerable success over the last nine years. And now they are once again viewed as unwelcome competitors by another ruling elite.

Kursk Governor Mikhailov does not dislike Jews because of the color of their hair or the shape of their noses. Rather, he senses that anti-Semitism might once again be employed by the adherents of a "strong hand." "Divide and rule" has always been one of the most successful tools of the centuries-long tradition of Russian statist politics.

Yevgenia Albats is an independent journalist based in Moscow.  (posted 24 November 2000)

Religious rights defense center wins court case

from Slavic Center for Law and Justice, 21 November 2000

A court dismissed the two appeals on dissolution of the Pentecostal churches of the city of Kostroma on November 16 and 17, 2000, thus making the victory of the SCLJ attorneys representing the churches complete.

The Kostroma Department of Justice alleged that the "Kostroma Christian Center" and the "Blagodat" ("Grace") church both use hypnosis in their activity which affects the state of health of their parishioners. On this basis the department denied reregistration to the churches and demanded their dissolution.

At the hearing on the case of the "Kostroma Christian Center" on November 16, the court withdrew the videotape of the church service from evidence as well as the state expert board opinion based on the tape. It was determined that the evidence had been obtained in violation of the law. Members of the church testified that none of them present at the videotaped service knew that a video recording was made; the whole thing was conducted secretly without their consent. The expert opinion, consequently, lacked legal force too, as it was based solely on the videotape. Besides, the whole procedure of the expert examination had to be considered illegal as this could not be done in the case of a church belonging to a religious association (as it is the case with the Kostroma Christian Center).

The Department of Justice presented no other proofs in support of their claims.

On November 17, at the hearing of the case of the "Blagodat" Church, the judge made public the written statement by the chief psychiatrist of Kostroma region. He was requested to provide the expert opinion as to whether the activity of the church involves hypnosis and is harmful for people's health. The chief psychiatrist explained to court that it was not possible to make such an opinion on the videotaped material only.

A similar statement was submitted to court by the philosophy department of the Teachers' University of Kostroma who were supposed to determine whether church membership affects the morals of the parishioners.

The Court required the department to reregister both churches.

Members of the two Pentecostal Churches of Kostroma intend to appeal to the Prosecutor-General of the Russian Federation asking for the initiation of criminal proceedings, as they believe the integrity of their private lives was blatantly violated.

The videotapes of the church services which formed the basis of the allegations against the churches were made without the parishioners consent. Fragments of these recordings showing people in prayer were broadcast by the local TV company. They were accompanied by negative statements concerning the religious practices and the behavior of the believers.

The people whose faces were shown in the TV program believe that this constitutes a crime according to the article 137 of the Criminal Code of the Russian federation which prohibits such intrusions into the private lives of the citizens. (original edited for style; posted 22 November 2000)

by Mikhail Edelstein,
Keston News Service,  21 November 2000

The long-running legal case against the largest Pentecostal church in the Kostroma region north east of Moscow, the Kostroma Christian Centre (KCC), has ended in victory for the church. On 16 November judge Tamara Koshkina of the Lenin district court in Kostroma rejected the liquidation suit brought against the church by the Kostroma regional justice department. The following day the court hearing in the case against another Kostroma-based Pentecostal group, the Grace Church, which the justice department was also seeking to liquidate, likewise went in favour of the church. The justice department has been directed to re-register both churches within one month.

Last May the justice department, citing the findings of a panel of experts, accused the KCC's pastors of using hypnosis during services. This was used as grounds for refusing to re-register the KCC and the matter was referred to the courts. At the first hearing, held at the end of October, it became clear that the conclusions of the plaintiff were based on a videotape of a service conducted by KCC pastor Andrei Danilov with foreign missionaries. The case was adjourned because deputy head of the justice department Nina Kolupayeva insisted that additional witnesses be called, including members of an expert committee examining the case and members of the procuracy who had passed the videotape on to the justice department, as well as psychiatrists who could give their expert commentary on the video as it was played to the court .

By the time the court reconvened on 16 November, Kolupayeva had abandoned any attempt to accuse the church's pastors of `causing harm to the health of citizens by the use of hypnosis' and concentrated instead on seeking to prove that by `hypnotising' citizens, they were harming their morality.

A procuracy official was due to attend to explain how the videotape of the service had come into existence. However, it soon became clear that Nikolai Khotyayev was an official not of the regional procuracy, which had passed the tape to the justice department, but of the Kostroma town procuracy and could not therefore impart any new information. The videotape was therefore removed from the body of evidence at the request of the church's lawyer, Vladimir Ryakhovsky. The court also decided not to call the expert witnesses, who had based their conclusions on this videotape.

Kolupayeva then requested a postponement, proposing that church members be interviewed in the presence of psychiatrists. This was contested by Ryakhovsky and Khotyayev and was eventually rejected by the court. All the church members present rejected the suggestion that either their pastors or any foreign missionary had ever used hypnosis on them. They explained that Pentecostal teaching forbids the use of hypnosis.

Ryakhovsky argued again that the position of the plaintiff had no justification in law and demanded that the court throw out the suit. He demanded an investigation into the actions of the justice department and the regional procuracy, claiming the former had illegally placed the church under investigation by the expert committee, and that the latter had passed on the illegally-filmed videotape to the department of justice. Khotyayev also called on the court to throw out the case.

After the hearing, Kolupayeva told Keston News Service that her office was happy with the judgment of the lower court and would not appeal against the verdict. However, Pastor Danilov told Keston that church members are preparing an appeal to the general procuracy to investigate the legality of the actions of the Kostroma regional procuracy. Ryakhovsky argues that both the regional procuracy and the Kostroma state television company, which broadcast extracts from the videotape, filmed without the permission of the pastor and church members, contravened articles 23 and 24 of the Russian Constitution. Article 137 of the Criminal Code, covering the invasion of privacy, might also be invoked.

The hearing in the case against the Grace Church led by Pastor Andrei Mudry (see KNS 31 October 2000), which took place the following day, ended in victory for the church. The chief psychiatrist of Kostroma region, who had been requested to provide an expert opinion as to whether the church used hypnosis and harmed health, explained that it was not possible to reach a conclusion on the videotaped material alone. A similar statement was submitted to the court by the philosophy department of the Teachers' University of Kostroma, which had been asked to establish whether membership of the Grace Church affected ones morals. Members of the Grace Church are also seeking redress through the general procuracy.

 Copyright (c) 2000 Keston Institute. All rights reserved.   (posted 24 November 2000)

Metropolitan Kirill desires restoration of union and soviet anthem


Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad answers reader's questions
Komsomolskaia pravda, 21 November 2000

What is the attitude of the Russian Orthodox church to the question about a new Russian national anthem and to the versions now under discussion? I. Sokolov, Orel

I will express my personal opinion because an official declaration in the name of the plenitude of our church would require a preliminary exchange of opinions on this question with His Holiness the patriarch, the Holy Synod, the hierarchical brethren, and with the people of God.

In the public discussion that has developed regarding the Russian anthem the problem has more often become this:  whether to use the music of the composer Aleksandrov from the USSR anthem or to take as the basis the prerevolutionary anthem of the Russian empire. Such an approach to the question strikes me as fundamentally incorrect. Because the great deception is to view the anthem of a country as an artificial joining of music and words in which it is possible to make some changes and replace essential parts. The anthem has a permanent cultural and historical and nationally significant  unity with a conception. Thus, either we restore the anthem of the Soviet Union and make it the anthem of new Russia or we return to the anthem of the prerevolutionary empire, "God save the tsar."

Only with such an approach to the question can we avoid a dangerous ambiguity and maintain fidelity to our history which God has given us. The words "God save the tsar" are forever inscribed in the music of the prerevolutionary anthem just as precisely as the words "Indestructible union. . ." are in the anthem of the soviet era. Both anthems are part of our common history. The question is whether we have the right to distort it to the extent of changing the realities of politics and life.

Whatever the case, I belong to that group of people who believe in the revival in one form or another of the union state. The upcoming unification of Russia with Belarus can fully attract attention of other states, too, which never were a part of USSR. And the creation of a new union state would be a sufficient basis for the revival of the anthem of the former union.

At the present time Glinka's melody "Patriotic Song" functions as the Russian anthem. This is fitting music and, in contrast to some of its critics, I suggest that it is possible to write appropriate words for an anthem to this music. But Glinka also has another piece of music that is striking in beauty and force. This is "Glory" from the finale of the opera "A Life for the tsar" ("Ivan Susanin"). I think that it would be quite possible to use this melody.

Whatever, the decision must be made by the people. Although I do not think that the form of a nationwide referendum would be best here. Partly because some people are indifferent or insensitive to music. Partly because the attitude to the issue of the anthem is often colored by political competition. It is inevitable that one's attitude to the past and its features, like an anthem, often changes completely depending on one's view of the present.

I suggest that the problem of Russia's anthem can and should be decided by the authorized elected representatives of the people, the deputies of the Federal Assembly. This is their responsibility according to the constitution. And they should be helped in making the decision by specialists who would suggest several possibilities for the choice.

This is very responsible work because the anthem should contain in a compact and emotional form the philosophy of Russian history in the forms of its common joy, pain, and hope. The anthem should unite the people, strengthen their spirit, and reveal all that is best in them. And it should bring tears to the eyes.  (tr. by PDS, posted 22 November 2000)

Associated Press, 22 November 2000

MOSCOW (AP) -- A group of Russian governors on Wednesday suggested  reinstating the old Soviet anthem to replace the country's current  hymn, but left the final choice to parliament.

Many Russians seem to dislike their country's post-Soviet anthem,  which uses the music of the "Patriotic Song'' by 19th-century  composer Mikhail Glinka. There are no lyrics.

Russia's communists, nostalgic for the Soviet era, have long tried to  restore the Soviet anthem. The proposals were blocked by ex-President  Boris Yeltsin but new President Vladimir Putin seems more receptive.

A panel of Russia's State Council -- an advisory body of regional  governors -- met Wednesday to consider the anthem dispute. After  reviewing eight proposed anthems, the governors deemed two to be the  most appropriate -- the current one, and its Soviet-era predecessor.

The Council recommended that parliament decide between the two options.

Other possibilities that have been discussed in recent months include  the old imperial anthem, "God Save the Czar,'' used by Tchaikovsky  in his ''1812 Overture''; World War I march "Slav's Farewell,''  composed by military musician Vasily Agapkin; and several popular  patriotic songs.

The Russian Orthodox Church, which was suppressed during the Soviet  era, strongly objects to the Soviet anthem, according to Russian  media reports.  (posted 24 November 2000)

AFP, 23 November 2000

Ten years after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russians still have no  national anthem to sing and the disharmony over a permanent choice is  deafening.

Recent polls show that 49.9 percent of Russians favor reinstituting  "Gimn Sovetskogo Soyuza" or "Hymn of the Soviet Union," as the  anthem. Written in 1943 and adopted in 1944, it describes "The solid  union of free republics huddled around Russia."

Only 15.5 percent of Russians approve of the composition by 19th  century musician Mikhail Glinka which has been adopted as a  provisional anthem. The music, which lacks lyrics, has never been  popular among Russians who do not like seeing their Olympic athletes  standing silent and emotionless when they hear the music.

Former Russian president Boris Yeltsin adopted as the national  symbols Glinka's music, as well as the new Russian coat of arms, and  the tsarist two-headed eagle and tricolor flag. He did so without  parliament's ratification.

Dominated by Communists, the previous Duma -- parliament's lower  house -- voted during its first 1999 sitting to readopt the old  Soviet anthem.

Yet many Russians are opposed to this former symbol of Stalinism.

"The old words of the Soviet hymn are too engraved in the (Russian)  spirit not to rise again if we return to the same melody," stated  Maya Plisetskaya, a famous Russian dancer.

The debate has pitted the most unlikely foes against each other.

A deputy leader of Russia's Communist Party, Svetlana Goryacheva,  prefers readopting the pre-revolution song, which begins "God,  protect the Tsar..."

Film-maker Nikita Mikhalkov ("Barbers of Siberia") has publicly  stated his preference for the Soviet hymn, whose words were written  by his father, Sergei Mikhalkov.

However, when Nikita Mikhalkov met with Russian President Vladimir  Putin recently, the film-maker conceded that the words would need to  be changed.

Putin himself has yet to make a public statement on the subject, but  a Russian newspaper noted that he bears in mind the Orthodox Church's  opposition to the Soviet anthem.

Whatever Putin's choice, he will have no difficulty seeing it  ratified because "the new Duma, submissive to Putin, will vote for  all the symbols the Kremlin wants," a parliamentary source said.

"Most parties, including the Communists, will accept the compromise  arranged by the Kremlin: the music of the Soviet hymn, but (also) the  monarchist two-headed eagle and tricolor," stated Viktor Pokhmelkin,  a reformist deputy.

Putin's newly created State Council began its first meeting Wednesday  with a debate over adopting a national anthem.

However reformists from the opposition group Yabloko, "are  categorically opposed to restoring the symbols of the bloody crimes  of Stalinism," according to a statement released last Friday.

Yabloko prefers the Russian military march "The goodbyes of a Slav,"  written in 1912.  (posted 24 November 2000)

Antisemitism in Kursk


Mikhailovites do not forgive the Jews for this.

by Elena Kondratieva, Elena Trebugova
Kommersant-Daily, 16 November 2000

Exactly a week after the new Kursk governor, Alexander Milhailov, told Kommersant about the support the President Putin gave him in the struggle with "filth" in the person of Messrs. Rutskoy and Berezovsky and the All-Russian Jewish Congress, the interviewee was forced to express to Mr. Rutskoy his official apologies. At that time in Kursk itself the Mikhailovites were already beating at the doors of the Jews.

In the Kommersant interview, published on 9 November, Mr. Mikhailov, in particular, declared:  "Do you know what the VEK--All-Russian Jewish Congress--is? You know who Rutskoy is, and Boris Berezovsky is behind him. And we have defeated them here. I think it is symptomatic and it says that for Russia today there is beginning the liberation from all this filth which has been building up over the past ten years. Here we are allies of the president and not his oppnents. Vladimir Vladimirovich, incidentally, is a Russian person. And I am, too. But, in case someone does not know it, Rutskoy's mother is a Jew, Zinaida Iosifovna."

Yesterday on an ITAR-TASS tape there appeared Mr. Mikhailov's public apologies. This happened after the representative of the president in the Central Federal district, Georgy Poltavchenko, called the new Kursk governor on 14 November and pointed out to him the "impermissibility of his infamous statements in the press." However the rebuke received from viceregent Poltavchenko did not by any means have decisive significance.

An aide to Alexander Mikhailov, Georgy Krasheninnikov, told an Kommersant reporter what really happened. He said that on 14 November the newly elected head of Kursk province had several meetings in the presidential administration. There he was advised to make a public apology in order to end the conflict, but to do this is a certain way. Apparently fearing the unpredictability of the communist Mikhailov, a promise was extracted from him to apologize through the information agency and after this not to make any comments, ending the topic once and for all. And this is what he did.

Mr. Mikhailov has good reason to obey the Kremlin's advice unconditionally: because of his scandelous statements he already had been denied a presidential audience. Immediately after his election the new governor told reporters that he intended to meet with Vladimir Putin before his inauguration (which is planned for 18 November) and discuss local problems.  However his aide reported that the conversation was not held:  "If after this scandal the president had publicly received Mikhailov, this would have been understood as an antisemitic action. When everything quiets down, then they will have a talk."

Meanwhile Mr. Rutskoy did not get any satisfaction personally from the offending party. As his wife, Irina, acknowledged, Mr. Rutskoy's family learned about the apologies from a Kommersant reporter. At the same time the wife of the still serving governor declared that her husband several days ago had backed away from his intention of taking Mr. Mikhailov to court inasmuch as his attorney considers the case obviously a loser. Mr. Rutskoy himself refused to talk, saying through his family that he is working on documents.

Mr. Mikhailov also did not want to comment personally on the situation. At his duma office Kommersant's call was answered: "Ah, ah, 'Kommersant,' the trouble makers. . . . Alexander Nikolaevich will not talk with you. He has said everything."

However, after apologizing in the central mass media, in his own bailiwick the newly elected governor insisted on a different interpretation of what happened. For example, in an interview with the paper "Golos naroda" (a publication of the Kursk provincial committee of the communist party) he declared: "The all-out campaign of open persecution was inspired by certain forces. We communists are not used to this."

At the time it already had been announced in Kursk who the governor's persecutors were. The head of the Kursk Jewish community, Igor Bukhman, told a Kommersant reporter: "On Saturday evening someone knocked at our place's windows and shouted 'We are Mikhailovites,' and beat against the door with a log. Such a thing has never been done before." (tr. by PDS, posted 20 November 2000)

SPB Vedomosti, 16 November 2000

The recently elected governor of Kursk province, Alexander Mikhailov, yesterday delivered his apologies to his predecessor, Alexander Rutskoy.

Recently in a newspaper interview the governor declared that in the period of the election campaign a "Jewish conspiracy" was organized against him, which was led by A. Rutskoy, and now Mikhailov has sent to him a letter with apologies which the ORT television company delivered.

The governor writes that he sincerely regrets that a number of answers to direct questions from the reporter during the interview were interpreted in a negative light. According to Mikhailov, he has drawn from this appropriate conclusions. The governor declared that "he always has respected people independent of their nationality, whether Russian, Ukrainian, Jew, Tartar, etc."

Mikhailov states that both for him personally and for the mass media the subject is now closed. (tr. by PDS, posted 20 November 2000)

by Oleg Moroz
Literaturnaia gazeta, 15 November 2000

The sacred place does not lie empty. The Kuban "Father Kondrat," who was distinguished by nothing other than his diehard antisemitism, had barely managed to depart from the political stage when the banner of the struggle with world Jewry was seized from his weakened hands by the gallant newcomer to the ranks of the governors, the newly elected head of Kursk provincial administration, the communist A. Mikhailov.

In an interview with the Kommersant newspaper he publicly explained that it was he and not FSB General V. Surzhikov who was supported by the Kremlin in the recent gubernatorial elections in Kursk.

The faithful associate of Comrade Ziuganov explained also that this united him with Putin in the struggle against Rutskoy. According to Mikhailov, the fight in the Kursk arena was not simply with Rutskoy as an individual but with the Russian Jewish Congress, which was standing behind him. This was the "touch stone," after which, one is to understand from Mikhailov's words, will follow similar actions throughout Russia:  "For Russia today there is beginning the liberation from all this filth which has piled up in the past ten years. Here I am an ally of the president. . . . Vladimir Vladimirovich is a Russian man. And I am, too. And, if someone does not know it, Rutskoy's mother is a Jew, Zinaida Iosifovna."

Actually Rutskoy has accumulated many sins:  he betrayed the president when he was vice president and he was one of the leaders of the October uprising in 1993; he called for bombing the Kremlin. A separate list of his transgression can now be drawn up on the results of his four-year term as Kursk governor: he wrecked the economy, he increased the debt, he appointed relatives everywhere, he bred corruption. But that Rutskoy also is a Jew, this is something that nobody had ever accused him of. And now it turns out that it is just this that constitutes his main crime against the motherland.

One would have thought that we had gotten away from all this. It turns out that we have not gone anywhere. We went, but we have come back. Of course, one does not wish to speak bitter words about one's native land. And many such words have been said. But it is impossible to get away from the realization that this is a gravely sick country. The whole question is whether it is hopelessly sick.

The issue is not just Mikhailov; everything is clear in his case. The words of the new-fledged antisemite governor should have been immediately disavowed by the head of state; however a week passed and we heard no comments from the president (the disclaimer from some anonymous Kremlin representative is clearly insufficient here).

And there is another curious detail. The new Kursk communist governor made his antisemitic declarations precisely on the anniversary of Kristalnacht, the bacchanalia of Jewish pogroms perpetrated by Hitlerites on 9 November 1938, an anniversary that now is widely noted in Germany (Tens of thousands have participated in actions of protest against the revival of Nazi threats.) Is the coincidence accidental?  (tr. by PDS, posted 20 November 2000)

The following is a translation of relevant portions of the Kommersant article. Translation of entire article available at Union of Councils for Soviet Jews.

by Elena Kondratieva
Kommersant-Daily, 9 November 2000

Kursk province was the first region where during the fall election campaign of 2000 the leader was changed. Besides this happened, as the new Kursk governor, Alexander Mikhailov, claimed to Kommersant reporter Elena Kondratieva, as the result of a joint struggle of the communist party and the Kremlin against Boris Berezovsky and the All-Russian Jewish Congress. . . .

--"At the time of the election campaign much was said to the effect that the Kremlin was placing its bets on Surzhikov."

--"That is absolutely untrue. Vladimir Vladimirovich twice sent his personal representative for a meeting with me. I do not want to tell you the name, but it was a woman, Putin's personal psychologist. She played a key role in the team and she and I decided on the mileposts of our joint work. They figured that we should win this election. And I will tell you why. In Kursk province, keep in mind, the problem was decided not simply of the Kursk province and who would win there. This was the touchstone for a whole series of things. Well check it out. Do you know what VEK--the All-Russian Jewish Congress--is? Today we are dealing not simply with an individual but with this organization. You know who Rutskoy is and behind him is Boris Berezovsky. And we beat them here. I think that this is symptomatic and says that for Russia today there is beginning a liberation from all this filth which has built up over the past ten years. Here we are allies with the president and not opponents. Vladimir Vladimirovich, incidentally, is a Russian man. And I am, too. And, if someone does not know it, Rutskoy's mother is a Jew--Zinaida Iosifovna." [end of interview--tr. note] (tr. by PDS, posted 20 November 2000)

Kommersant-Daily, 10 November 2000

On Thursday Kommersant published an interview with Alexander Mikhailov, who won the gubernatorial elections in Kursk province on 5 November. Yesterday a highly placed source in the administration of the presidency of RF declared to the Interfax agency that Mr. Mikhailov's statements are "complete rubbish," and "let the interviewee himself sort out with the newspaper whose conscience all these fantasies lie on." And the still-serving Kursk governor, Alexander Rutskoy, declared to Kommersant reporter Yury Borodinov that he intends to take his successor to court. . . . [article quotes the portion of the interview translated above]

--"What will be the essence of your suit?"

--"I will take Mikhailov to court for incitement of interethnic discord, which is how I assess his statements published in the Kommersant newspaper. ... Moreover, Mr. Mikhailov has claimed that the struggle in Kursk province is not with me but with a whole Jewish conspiracy."

--"Did they misspeak regarding your mother?"

--"Everything about my mother is true. I have never concealed this and I am not ashamed; she was a very good and dear person for me. But what is the significance and for whom of her name and nationality? And what is this "incidentally" in contrasting the "russianness" of Vladimir Vladimirovich and my mother's name? What is the logical connection between them?"

--"What kind of ties are there between you and Boris Berezovsky?"

--"I became acquainted with Boris Berezovsky many years ago, which he was engaged in science. He is a very interesting person and I never have been ashamed of my acquaintance with him. Our relations are fine. . . .

"I emphasize that I will not go to court over the issue of the elections but in connection with the specific declarations by Mikhailov that incite national discord. I have always considered the question of nationality to be improper, the more so since nationalities to not have criminality, ill-manners, meanness, and treachery. But on 7 November I saw out of my office window the statements of Mr. Mikhailov's comrades which accuse the Jews of all Russia' troubles and call for implementing the motto, "Away with the Zhids--save Russia." In essence Mikhailov himself said the same thing. And even more, by taking Vladimir Putin's name in vain he made him into his ally in the struggle with the Jewish conspiracy. . . ."  (tr. by PDS, posted 20 November 2000)

Call for a new system of Russian religious politics


Restructuring church-state relations has come to a head.

by Alexander Shchipkov
Nezavisimaia gazeta, 15 November 2000

The formulation of the internal policies of Russia against a background of a search for a national idea and arrangement of the administrative system is impossible today with taking into account the religious factor.

The liberalization of legislation that happened ten years ago facilitated the inclusion of believers into active social life. They were united in charitable, educational, commercial, and political organizations. The numerical growth of religious associations was accomplished. The situation of the bimillennial year has been characterized not by internal but by external processes which act upon public life and state politics. Religion and government, which at times appear in Russia as partners and sometimes as competitors have never merged into a single spiritual and legal mechanism which shows conflicting and by no means "symphonic" relations.

At the end of the twentieth century the situation has changed.  The church and state face the question of new approaches to the regulation of their relations, but inasmuch as the internal ideological forms of these relation had only begun to clear up, it was necessary to set them free from the external ones. The elimination in 1990-1991 of the system of agents on religious affairs was undoubtedly a positive step, whose revolutionary character promoted an intellectual quest for a new conceptualization of church-state relations.

At present on the enormous expanse of the Russian federation free and diverse religious processes are flowing simultaneously, which are culminating in a catastrophic institutional division of traditional religions. Judaism is divided; Buddhism is divided; Islam is divided. In this there is nothing that is surprising or specifically Russian. The religious situation has never been stable anywhere because of the irrational nature of religion itself and its emotional concentration both in the single individual and in society as a whole. This is why the state should not interfere in the internal life of the church but create a certain standard scheme of church-state relations which would, on one hand, prevent a liberal departure beyond the bounds of the established form and, on the other, not permit an irrational religious mood to become dangerous for society.

Religion as a guardian of morals and ethics deals with that form of intellectual and religious practice which, just like politics, tries to regulate relations among people who belong to various strata. Consequently the state can talk with religious organizations as with a political party, in the language of juridical law.

The law on freedom of conscience and religious associations of 1997 clearly was not equal to the tasks imposed upon it. As before, the problem of federalism was not overcome; local laws on religious associations contradict the federal law. As before, the process of reregistration of religious organizations was not completed. As before, a mechanism was not worked out which would prevent a collision of regional authority with local religious elites.

How can relations of the state and religious organizations be laid out? By striving for full religious freedom or preferring the paternalism of state control? By giving priority to traditional culture-forming religions or relying on the great principle of religious tolerance?

Russia faces the most complex task of constructing church-state relations in a way that in conditions of a multinational state forces the working of both of these principles and at the same time avoids ethno-confessional pressure.

For this it will be necessary sooner or later to review the conception of the law on freedom of conscience and religious associations, and instead of the existing registration system to create a consensual system of mutual relations between religious organizations and the state which will be built on principles of social partnership between each church individually and the Russian state as a whole.

Today freedom of conscience is understood in its absolute sense but religious organizations are viewed cynically as actors in market relations. The former promotes the generation of surrogate religious movements while the latter promotes the criminalization of traditional churches. Both phenomena are destructive for the nation.

A contract system provides for the conclusion of a contract between each religious organization and the state. Both sides assume a definite obligation. The church engages in social work, care of orphans, and the like. The state provides financial support and a system of privileges and protection. At the same time the contracting parties receive certain rights. The church, to proclamation, and the state, to financial control over dispersed funds.

Rights, obligations, and the sphere of activity are agreed to in each specific case, proceeding from Russian interests and following the established legislation on religious associations. Such an approach preserves the democratic principle, permits the complete fulfillment of the potential of traditional religions, and protects the individual from the depredations of pseudoreligious groups and at the same time prevents arousing a conflict among competing religious  organizations.

In a period of economic instability the state needs solidarity with religious associations. The establishment of a genuine  agreed-upon system in church-state relations will permit the development of contacts between church and state  as a social partnership.

The transition from a state of conceptual chaos to a rational formation of religious policy, from the existing registration principle to a proposed consensual one or another, consistent with Russian religious and political reality, requires time, intellectual concentration, and political will.

Today experts of four major state structures are dealing with relations of the state with religious associations.

The Department on Relations with Religious Organizations of the presidential adminstration protects the political aspect in the formation of church-state relations. The committee of the State Duma on affairs of public and religious organizations prepares the drafts of laws, amendments, and the like. The Commission on Questions of Religious Associations of the government  of RF resolves specific ongoing problems within the competence of the executive branch. The Ministry of Justice registers organizations.

None of these structures has the necessary administrative potential or appropriate authorization for preparing and approving a new conceptual scheme.

In this situation it is beneficial to create a single agency which will unite the efforts for regulating the existing and formulating new church-state relations. A ministry on religious affairs would be an extremely awkward and expensive agency. What is needed is a small, flexible structure, which we would call conditionally a department of cults, that has access to regional information and is able to make practical and theoretical decisions. In view of its special social and political significance, the department of cults should be directly subordinate to the president and incorporated into the system of authorized representatives. The department will be headed by a director with the rank of authorized representative of the president ranked with deputies who are within the system of authorized representatives. Thus the regional employees of the department of cults will avoid subordination to local administrations. This is the main thing and further detailing of the situation of the department on cults should pose no problems.

The structuring of church-state relations has come to a head. (tr. by PDS, posted 17 November 2000)

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