RUSSIA RELIGION NEWS

Monitoring news media reports about religion in Russia and other countries of former USSR
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Adventist leader visits Russia

"WE SHARE CHRISTIAN VALUES"
by Pavel Korobov
Kommersant-Daily, 31 October 2002

The president of the General Conference of the church of Seventh-Day Adventists, Jan Paulsen, arrived in Russia from the USA for a working visit. During his trip he met with KD reporter Pavel Korobov.

--What is the purpose of your visit?

--First, as leader of the World Adventist church, I want to take the pulse of Adventists in Russia and become acquainted with those problems and opportunities that exist here. Second, there will be a conference with elected leaders of the local church at which I want to hear what their plans are and what opportunities and problems exist.

--Besides meetings within the church do you plan to have conversations with representatives of the Russian government?

--I would very much like to talk with the president, but I understand well that in such a time as now he is extremely busy. But I intend to meet with the deputy chief of staff of the presidential administration, Mr. Abramov. My meetings with representatives of the government will be courtesy visits. I simply want to express my gratitude to those who administer this country. I also will use this time to become acquainted with the chairman of the duma Committee on Affairs of Public Associations and Religious Organizations, Mr. Zorkaltsev, in order to sense and learn how Russian society is living.

--How do you assess the affairs of your church in Russia?

--I first visited Russia twenty years ago. In the interval there have been great changes. These changes also affected the church. I can note that in the past 10-12 years the church has acquired strong leadership in the person of Russian ministers. I am very happy that we have been given the possibility of establishing in Russia our own theological seminary. You know that prior to that time the training of our ministers was conducted abnormally, that is, underground and unprofessionally. I also wish to note that the Adventist church strives to make its own positive contribution to the development of the society in which it finds itself. Our church does not try to become some kind of isolated society. In my opinion, the church must not be a closed society that thinks only about itself. It is extremely important that the church be sensitive to what is happening in society and to provide on its part effective help.

--Has the number of congregations of the Adventist church in Russia increased?

--I know that the number of believers in Russia is growing. When I came here twenty years ago, there were around 30,000 believers in the whole of USSR. Today we can say that we are approaching 200,000. And if we add to this the children also, then this figure doubles.

--Why, in your view, do Russian people who have Orthodox roots convert to a protestant faith?

--I would not begin to touch that question. I think that everyone who declares himself to be a believer and follower of Jesus Christ should share Christian values, and we have always done this. We talk about and share our understanding of the Bible and biblical truths. And if an Orthodox person who hears this wants to become a part of the protestant church, the Adventist church, then let him become a part. But this does not at all meant that these people were bad Orthodox believers previously. This simply means that they have found those values in a protestant congregation. (tr. by PDS, posted 1 November 2002)

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Nearly ten percent of youth conscientious objectors

DRAFT. FEAR OF HARASSMENT
by Maria Kulagina
Moskovskaia pravda, 31 October 2002

On the first of October the fall draft of youth between 18 and 27 years of age in the armed forces began. Every year the authorities take new, supplementary measures in order to fill the quota for the conscription of youth, but the number of men entering service to the motherland has not increased. MP reporters decided to investigate why young people do not want to serve. A survey was conducted on 26 October from noon to two o'clock in the afternoon at the exit of the "Sokol" metro station.

Fifty persons of draft age who have not yet served were questioned. Everyone mentioned the harassment (dedovshchina), the complex situation in the Caucasus, and the bad living conditions. Only three men answered that they would go into the army despite everything. Besides the above mentioned reasons, other basic ones mentioned were fear "of coming back physically and psychologically unhealthy," (27 persons); "there is no prestige" (16), and "I have religious convictions" (4).

Of the fifty youths questioned, forty would agree to serve in the ranks of the soldiers if they knew where they would serve and had a guarantee that they would not be harassed. We asked the military commandant S. Sobolev to describe how the fall draft in the region was going, but neither he nor his assistant, S. Deimeka, who told us to call Major Mikhail Voltavinov, provided necessary information. (tr. by PDS, posted 31 October 2002)

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Hospitalized patriarch stable

PATRIARCH RECOVERING
May be released from hospital in ten days
by Pavel Korobov
Kommersant-Daily, 31 October 2002

Yesterday the condition of Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and all-Rus, who is in the Central Clinical Hospital (TsKB) with a diagnosis of "hypertension," improved. Earlier this week His Holiness suffered a hypertension crisis with "elements of disruption of blood flow to the brain."

The primate of the Russian Orthodox church entered the TsKB on Tuesday. He was transferred there from Astrakhan where he felt ill (KD has written about this). As reported to a KD correspondent by the vice chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow patriarchate, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the state of the patriarch's health is satisfactory. He now is undergoing medical observation and procedures. According to Fr Vsevolod, the condition of the head of the Russian Orthodox church permits him to talk with people around him and to perform morning and evening prayers. This was indirectly confirmed by the head physician of TsKB, Alexander Nikolaev, who, to be sure, refused comment, telling the KD reporter only that "nothing horrible has happened to the patriarch's health."

KD has learned that the patriarch was placed in a government suite of the seventh ward of the Kremlin hospital, where he usually receives treatment. The patriarch's suite consists of several rooms, a dining room, bedroom, security room, bath, and toilet. The only person who would give news media details yesterday about the condition of the patriarch's health was the general director of the Medical Center of the chief of staff of the Russian president, Sergei Mironov. He said that positive signs have been noted in the condition of the health of the head of the Russian Orthodox church. According to Sergei Mironov, "the patriarch's blood pressure is within the normal range for his age." He also reported that in the course of the pastoral visit to Astrakhan, Alexis II "suffered a hypertension crisis with elements of disruption of blood flow to the brain." At the present time, according to the chief Kremlin physician, "the condition of the cardio-vascular system is stable and the patient is undergoing planned therapy and he is permitted to have short visits with relatives and friends." "After the completion of the treatment and appropriate tests, in approximately ten to twelve days, the patriarch will be able to be released," Academician Mironov said. (tr. by PDS, posted 31 October 2002)

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New Orthodox church buildings in Siberia

LARGEST CATHEDRAL APPEARS BEYOND URALS
by Yury Chuvashev
Nezavisimaia gazeta, 28 October 2002

On the eve of the Orthodox feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God the opening and consecration of the church of the Holy Elevation of the Cross, the most spacious church not only in the Krasnoyarsk-Yenisei diocese but in all of the Russian territory east of the Urals, was held in Lesosibirsk. The seventy-meter-tall church made of red brick sparkles with the gold of thirteen cupolas that are visible in the distance from the Yenisei. Construction took seven years and today it is the largest Orthodox church to be built in many years in the Asiatic portion of the country.

Techniques of brick construction that were applied by medieval Russian masters were revived and used for the process of construction. As to its external appearance and distinctives of construction, the church of the Holy Elevation of the Cross is similar to St. Basil's cathedral in Moscow, the Krasnoyarsk architect Alexander Bannikov explained. On the day of the church's consecration, which was performed by Archbishop Antony of Krasnoyarsk and Yenisei, a procession of the cross and a divine liturgy were held, before a crowd of people that was unprecedentedly large for the city. (tr. by PDS, posted 28 October 2002)

CATHEDRAL'S SECOND LIFE
by Liudmila Abramova
Priamurskie vedomosti, 22-29 October 2002

On 19 October 2002 a second life began officially for the cathedral of the Dormition of the Mother of God, which was restored to the very same spot on Cathedral Square where it once was built and then, during the dawn of the soviet regime, was destroyed. The people of Khabarovsk received their gift on the eve of the sixty-fourth anniversary of the territory.

Early Saturday morning the church was filled with residents and guests of the territorial center. They came here for the ceremony of consecration. Among those present were many children. The children were serious and concentrated in an adult manner. They had candles in their hands. I listen to a quiet conversation between two women:  "I just dropped in at the cathedral on the way to work; I heard the choir singing. It doesn't matter that I am late; I will explain everything and they will understand."  And this is quite understandable. Just like it is understandable now that Cathedral Square is right next to the Komsomol Square, where stands a monument to those who struggled for that power in the Far East which decided to destroy the cathedral of the Dormition of the Mother of God. All of this is "lines of our history," heroic and tragic.

How many of the spiritual and truly Russian values have been returned to us in the past decade of last century! They were returned not without the help and persistence and determination of those who have never forgotten the majestic cathedrals, small churches and tiny chapels that were barbarously destroyed, though for centuries they had been the spiritual support for the Russian people and the source of their strength and steadfastness "from Moscow to the farthest reaches." This also is our history.

It is no accident therefore that the ceremony of consecration of the cathedral of the Dormition of the Mother of God was conducted by Metropolitan Sergius of Solnechnogorsk, the chancellor of the Moscow patriarchate. Metropolitan Sergius has already started the procession of the cross around the church accompanied by the church choir.

Father Oleg was appointed rector of the cathedral. The liturgy was attended by Khabarovsk Territory Governor Viktor Ishaev. (tr. by PDS, posted 28 October 2002)

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Muslim leader condemns hostage taking

IN DEFIANCE OF THE LAWS OF ISLAM
St. Petersburg Vedomosti, 25 October 2002

The chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia, Mufti Sheikh Ravil Gainutdin, appealed through the ITAR-TASS news agency to the terrorists demanding that they immediately lay down their weapons, release the hostages, and surrender to authorities. He called for reason on that part of those who seized the hostages in the building of the Palace of Culture in Moscow. "No ends justify terrorism. What these people have done does not comport with any laws of Islam nor with laws of the state," the mufti stressed. (tr. by PDS, posted 25 October 2002)

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It is not necessary to credit this Web page. If material is transmitted electronically, please include reference to the URL, http://www.stetson.edu/~psteeves/relnews/.