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Moscow nationalists oppose protestants


A demonstration against the construction of the Russian-American Christian Institute (RAKhI) was conducted on 23 June 2005 by the regional division of the "Rodina" party in Moscow and deputies of the "Rodina" fraction in the Moscow city duma. The demonstration was held on a vacant lot near the Yauza, whose address is Menzhinsky street, No. 38.

The organizers of the demonstration called the Russian-American Christian Institute "a sower of ideas that are alien to our state." The Muscovite "Rodinites" were most of all disturbed by the protestantism of a majority of teachers of RAKhI, as well as by the official goal of the institute: "to train Russian youth to be potential leaders of the new Russia." The proximity of the green zone to the Yauza river and the Raievsky cemetery was used to strengthen the argument.

In this context local residents were called to demonstrate on a wave of Orthodox patriotic and ecological feelings. A warning resounds in the "war leaflets" distributed that "this educational institution will become a center for the dissemination of Baptist views that are alien to Russia." They contain the following calls:

"We call you! Fellow citizens and patriots! Together let us stop the American intervention in our souls and let us not permit the heads of our children to be invaded by the American protestant heresy. Let us protect our children from the influence of the RAKhI-ites from across the ocean!"

"Together! Let us halt the construction and let us not allow the destruction of the last green zone in the district. Let us defend the favorite place of recreation for our residents, the bank of the Yauza!"

"Together! Let us not permit the construction of the institute next to the Orthodox cemetery on the bones of fallen soviet warriors!"

"We do not need leaders trained by American money!"

"If you do not want our district turned into a seat of foreign culture! If you do want our children to grow up as patriots of their own country and not as agents from across the ocean!"

"Everyone who is not indifferent to the future of our children, who honors the memory of our ancestor, who is concerned for the fate of the green zone!"

These slogans resounded from the lips of speakers and they were inscribed on the placards the organizers distributed to local residents who came to the demonstration.

The event turned out to be multifunctional. Those who were stirred up at the demonstration on the vacant lot could fill out a form under a nearby shrub and join the "Rodina" party. To be sure, there were few who wanted to. And local retirees confidentially told one another that this was the "Rodina" that Rogozin stole away from Glaziev and it is not the genuine thing.

A variety of "patriotic" publications were represented: the newspapers "Slovo Rodiny," "Zavtra," and "Kazachii vzgliad," and the parish newsletter of the church of John the Forerunner in Sokolniki.

Here people in vests on which was written "I am Russian! Glory to Russia!" distributed leaflets "God is not in strength but in truth! Live without fear of the Jews!"  And they incidentally suggested signing an appeal to Russian Prosecutor General V.V. Ustinov in connection with the increasing use against Russian patriots of article 282 of the Criminal Code of RF on "incitement of ethnic strife" with regard to Jews.

In all, the number of demonstrators, including "Rodinites," Orthodox priests, cossacks, members of the Union of Orthodox Citizens and other "radical patriots," was estimated by police at no greater than 150, whereas the applications had said 300.

Because of the protests of the "Orthodox public," the question of the construction had already been a topic of discussion at a Babushkinskoe municipal meeting on 17 May 2005, whose deputies voted in favor of RAKhI.  The decision to lease 0.32 hectares of land was issued by the prefecture of the North Eastern District in 2001. Construction of RAKhI was permitted in 2003 and planned for 2005-2006. (tr. by PDS, posted 24 June 2005)

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Italian model for teaching religion in schools

In connection with publication of Vatican's position on question of teaching religion in Russian schools

The Union of Orthodox Citizens notes with a feeling of profound satisfaction that Archbishop Antonio Mennini's position on the question of teaching "Foundations of Orthodox Culture" in Russian schools, stated by him in a response letter to Bishop of Egorievsk Mark, is a friendly step toward the Russian Orthodox church and creates additional preconditions for activating the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue.

In essence, the Catholic side disavowed the statement of Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, who mistakenly placed himself in solidarity with anti-Christian forces, by speaking out against "Foundations of Orthodox Culture." We also suggest that the points of the agreements between the Catholic church and Italian government (Agreement of 18 February 1984 and the Lateran Concordat of 11 February 1929) cited by Antonio Mennini relative to religious education in the schools should be used in the dialogue between the Russian Orthodox church and the Russian government, to wit:

"The Italian republic, acknowledging the value of religious culture and taking into account that the principles of Catholicism are a part of the historical heritage of the Italian people, will assure in the future, within the context of the purposes of the schools, the teaching of the Catholic religion in all public educational institutions below the university level. In the spirit of respect for the freedom of conscience and the responsibilities of parents, each person is guaranteed the right to chose or not to chose the above mentioned subject. School children and their parents exercise this right at the time of enrollment upon the request of the school administration, and their choice cannot evoke any forms of discrimination."

It is suggested that an agreement between the Russian Orthodox church and the Russian government on questions of cooperation in the sphere of education should be constructed on such principles.

The Union of Orthodox Citizens recalls that for many years now it has stood on the positions of the "Act of Social Partnership" signed between the Russian Orthodox church and the government, according to which the state entrusts the church with substantial authority in the business of education and social prevention in the world of youth and the church and state act as partners in the nonpolitical arena, defending the interests of Russia as the leader of eastern Christian civilization, especially taking account of the fact that the Moscow patriarchate is the only unified structure in post-soviet space.

If Russia is to become such a leader and be the center of attraction for peoples of the same faith, it must become a country with the model of church-state relations and consequently the question of the introduction of "Foundations of Orthodox Culture" into the federal curriculum most be resolved positively and as soon as possible.

24 June 2005

Posted on site, 24 June 2005

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Baku Jehovah's Witnesses congress raided


More than twenty police officers accompanied by a television crew from "Space TV" carried out a raid on 12 June of the premises in which a congress of the "Jehovah's Witnesses" church was being conducted in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, Felix Corley, a correspondent for the international rights advocacy agency "Forum 18," reports. Similar raids occurred previously in the course of meetings of Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh-Day Adventists in Gianj, the second largest city of the republic. Both representatives of the police and a representative of the prosecutor's office refused to explain to the "Forum 18" correspondent why a religious society that is registered in accordance with procedures established by law was the object of the raid.

A representative of the police stated:  "They were fined and then released. We will not give any other information over the phone."

Members of the "Jehovah's Witnesses" church said that "when the police arrived they began giving the television crew instructions regarding what they should shoot." Reporters tried to film interviews with members of the local "Jehovah's Witnesses" organization as well as with believers from Georgia and the Netherlands--in all cases against their wills. The "Space TV" television company declared that a criminal case has been opened with regard to a "nontraditional religion" as a result of the raid. At the same time "Space TV," in defiance of the facts, maintained that it presented in its materials the point of view of members of the "Jehovah's Witnesses" church. (tr. by PDS, posted 24 June 2005)

Forum 18 report: "Azerbaijan police with hostile TV cre raid meeting"

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Head of nationalist party assures Jewish leadership

Letter of Dmitry Rogozin, to head of the rabbinical court of CIS and chief rabbi of Moscow Pinkhas Goldshmidt

To President of Rabbinical Court of CIS
Chief Rabbi of Moscow
Mr. P. Goldshmidt

Copy: to leader of Department of Public Relations of KEROOR and MERO
Mr. V. Pliss

Esteemed Mr. Goldshmidt!

I thank you for your letter with commentary on provisions of the book "Kitzur Shulchan Aruch."

Your letter is the first answer by representatives of KEROOR on the essence of the questions arising for representatives of the public with regard to theses contained in the aforementioned religious text.

At the present time I am studying the materials you sent. I think that they help substantially to disperse the danger of anti-Jewish feelings arising in Russian society, and they will undoubtedly facilitate the development in Russia of mutual understanding in society on the basis of a dialogue and the strengthening of patience and cultural tolerance.

On my part I also note that the position of the "Rodina" political party and the fraction in the State Duma of the same name proposes that theological sources may not serve as a basis for judicial persecution of people, irrespective of their religious affiliation, including Judaism, which has been traditionally professed in Russia.

I would wish to express again my regret with respect to the appeal of a group of State Duma deputies from the "Rodina" parliamentary fraction to the prosecutor general's office by means of a letter which was evaluated as antisemitic.

I would like to stress that I personally, as a citizen and as chairman of a political party, condemn antisemitism and xenophobia in any of its manifestations.

I assure you that the establishment of interethnic harmony in the Russian federation is a priority question of the program of the "Rodina" political party.

Chairman D.O. Rogozin

Document made public by head of Department of Public Relations of KEROOR and MERO, Vladimir Pliss
(tr. by PDS, posted 24 June 2005)

Posted on site, 24 June 2005

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Russian Orthodox leaders move toward reunification


Four documents prepared jointly by RPTsMP and ROCOR(L) have been published on the official sites of these churches. The publication was confirmed by decisions of the Holy Synod of RPTsMP of 20 April 2005 and the bishops' council of ROCOR(L) of 23 May 2005.

The published documents were jointly prepared by the commission of RPTsMP on dialogue with ROCOR and the commission of ROCOR(L) for negotiations with RPTsMP, and approved by the hierarchies of RPTsMP and ROCOR(L). At the present time, the following documents have been published:

1.  Concerning the joint work of the commission of the Moscow patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia

2.  Concerning relations of the Orthodox church with other confessions and interconfessional organizations

3.  Concerning relations of the church and state

4.  Commentary on the joint document of the commissions of the Moscow patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, "Concerning relations of the church and state."
(tr. by PDS, posted 23 June 2005)

Translator's note:  "RPTsMP" is the Russian Orthodox church of the Moscow patriarchate; "ROCOR(L)" is the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia under the first hierarch Laurus. The links displayed within the text of the article are to English translations of the respective documents.

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Moscow prosecutor investigating Jewish leadership


The Moscow prosecutor's office decided to continue the investigation with respect to the Congress of Jewish Religious Organizations and Associations in Russia (KEROOR), which published the book, "Kitzur Shulchan Aruch" (a collection of Jewish religious regulations). We recall that back in January 2005, twenty-two State Duma deputies addressed the prosecutor general's office and, citing this book, suggested prohibiting all Jewish organizations existing in Russia. Soon after this President Putin participated in events devoted to the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and apologized for the antisemites. The deputies recanted their letter. However soon afterward the prosecutor general's office received a similar statement but not from the deputies; this statement at first had the signatures of 500 persons, and later there were 5,000.. In response to this, rights advocates addressed the prosecutor general's office with a demand to hold the authors of the statement criminally liable. The Basman prosecutor's office conducted an investigation of both declarations and refused to open a case for either one. However on Wednesday it became known that the Moscow city prosecutor's office did not agree with this. That office considered that the publishers of "Kitzur Shulchan Arucha" should be investigated again. This could lead to opening a criminal case against the leaders of the Jewish community.

The letter regarding the overruling of the order of the Basman prosecutor's office and the continuation of the investigation with respect to KEROOR was signed by the chief of the department of inspection for the procedural activity of organs of security of the Moscow prosecutor's office, E.P. Stepanov. Izvestia was informed of this by rights activist Evgeny Ikhlov. It was he who addressed the prosecutor general's office with the complaint against the authors of the "Letter of 5000" and received  the subsequent reply.

A representative of the Moscow prosecutor's office, Sergei Marchenko, told Izvestia that the decision to overrule was made "not because the order was illegal or without basis but because it is necessary to examine again the supplementary investigatory actions." However, just what these actions were he did not specify.

The reaction to the decision of the Moscow city prosecutor's office by leaders of the Jewish community turned out to be stormy. The president of the Council of Rabbis of Europe, Moscow Chief Rabbi Pinkhas Goldshmidt told Izvestia:  "This book has been published for centuries. Both in tsarist Russia, where it passed the censorship, and in Europe and USA. And nowhere has there been an attempt to take anyone to court for its distribution. Only in Hitler's Germany was 'Kitzur Shulchan Aruch' used for antisemitic propaganda. It is possible that some provisions of this book seem incorrect, but they were written in prechristian times, when Jews lived among pagans, and it was pagans who used 'crossed sticks' before Christians did. Jews have never considered Christian idolaters."

The president of the Russian Jewish Congress, Vladimir Slutsker spoke about this, evaluating the decision of the Moscow city prosecutor's office as disturbing:  "Now this book is simply a culturological valuable. I do not consider that the decision of the Moscow prosecutor's office reflects the position of the prosecutor general's office. I have met many times with Prosecutor General Ustinov and I assess his position positively. It consists of the necessity of creating a unified system of spiritual values. Of course, we try to prosecute antisemites in each specific case. But one must understand that you will not divert the wave of antisemitism this way."

Israeli diplomats are watching the situation around this case attentively. Israel's ambassador to Russia, Arkady Melman, told Izvestia:  "I have not yet seen the text by Prosecutor Stepanov. We have asked for an explanation from responsible offices, In addition I want to stress that the letter demanding the banning of the activity of Jewish organizations in Russia is genuine antisemitism. Antisemitic appeals to the prosecutor have been condemned by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the State Duma, and the Federal Assembly. President Putin also has often condemned manifestations of antisemitism in Russia. I assure you that we shall continue to combat any manifestations of antisemitism, which are phenomena that have no place in a normal society."

And here is what the author of the statement calling for banning Judaism and holding the publishers of "Kitzur Shulchan Aruch" criminally liable, Mikhail Nazarov, told Izvestia:  he agrees with the decision of the prosecutor's office and expects a great deal from it--"recognition that Judaism inspires in those Jews trained in this religion hatred for all other peoples." Mikhail Nazarov considers a legislative prohibition for Jews to participate in the governmental life of the country to be an ideal scenario. He insists that his philosophy is not directed against the Jewish people:  "Every Jew can become a member of society with full rights, if he converts to another faith." Mikhail Nazarov noted that the Cheremushkin prosecutor's office in Moscow began an investigation of his book, "Russia's Secret," for which he was forced to give testimony. "'Russia's Secret' cannot be antisemitic since it is sold in the patriarchal system," Mikhail Nazarov noted, and he added that he intends to file suit in court against those who call him "an ideologue of neonazism and antisemitism." "We are Orthodox people, and on the basis of Orthodox teaching we strive to defend Russia from destructive forces," he explained.

What Jews are accused of

Quotations from "Kitzur Shulchan Aruch" that upset the author of the statement to the prosecutor's office, Mikhail Nazarov, with comments by Rabbi Pinkhas Goldshmidt

1.  "The figure of two crossed sticks, which they venerate, is forbidden of us." In Nazarov's opinion, Christians are considered to be idolaters. According to Goldshmidt, in the "Orach Chaim" section of "Shulchan Aruch" it is said that "if a non-Jew believes in a single G-d and he also believers in other higher powers, we do not consider him as an idolater." Christians (akums) are not considered idolaters.

2.  "The prohibition to teach a trade to non-Jews"  Goldshmidt maintains that the phrase is distorted; it is prohibited to teach idolaters (cf. point 1). In addition, this prescription was included in the law as a warning for Jews against performing actions that, in the event of an unfortunate outcome, could lead to the accusation of ritual murder. The same consideration applies when it says "a Jewish woman should not help a non-Jewish woman in childbirth" if she is not a professional midwife.

3.  "It is forbidden to betray a Jew into the hands of a non-Jew, whether it is a matter of the Jew's life or his property; and it is irrelevant whether this is done by some kind of action or by words; and it is forbidden to inform on him or to reveal the places where his property is hidden." Nazarov notes that such conduct is prescribed for Jews in court and in an investigation. Goldshmidt points out that Jewish law prescribes the right not to testify against relatives. "Shulchan Aruch" also establishes a prohibition on informing: "When it is established that someone has betrayed a Jew or his money three times to an akum [non-Jew], then it is necessary to find the ways and means for removing him from the world."

4.  "It is a good thing to kill a Jewish freethinker, that is, someone who performs the worship of akums." According to Goldshmidt, this law pertains only to the time before the end of the period of the first temple, which was destroyed 2,500 years ago. (tr. by PDS, posted 23 June 2005)

Posted on site, 23 June 2005


The case concerning the publication and distribution in Moscow of the book "Kitzur Shulchan Aruch" was returned to the Basman prosecutor's office, which previously had refused to open a criminal case on this matter. According to a decision of the Moscow prosecutor's office, a supplementary investigation will be conducted.

The request to conduct an investigation of the legality of the distribution of the book that represents a collection of Jewish religious rules was contained in an appeal sent at the end of January to the prosecutor general's office of RF, which is known by the number of signatures as the "Letter of 5000."

The authors of the letter, including a number of State Duma deputies from the communist and "Rodina" fractions, demanded the prohibition in Russia of the activity of all "religious and ethnic Jewish associations as extremist," reports. (tr. by PDS, posted 24 June 2005)

Related items: "Dispute over antisemitic publications"

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