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Pentecostals win court case; continue protests
COURT FINDS ACTION BY CENTRAL DISTRICT PREFECTURE REGARDING "EMMANUEL"
Portal-credo.ru, 16 November 2005
Two suits by the Moscow central "Emmanuel" church of Christians of
Evangelical Faith (Pentecostals) against the prefecture of the Central
Administrative District (TsAO) were reviewed on 14 November in the
Tagan district court of Moscow, according the a report given by the
press secretary of the church, Yury Popov, the a "Portal-Credo.ru"
The occasion for the suit was the violation by officials of the TsAO
prefecture of the existing procedure for issuing documents relative to
the conduct of public events. Thus, because of the fault of prefecture
employees, on 30 May and 1, 2, and 3 June, permitted demonstrations
conducted by the church on Tver square across from Moscow city hall
were broken up by police officers. Many picketers, including ministers
of the church, were detained and subjected to administrative arrest
along with numerous fines. Many placards were confiscated and
destroyed. There was a deliberate attempt to sully the church's
reputation along with the ministers in the eyes of the public and to
exert physical, moral, and financial pressure.
The "Emmanuel" church and its parishioners demand of the government of
Moscow that it return the land seized from the church, which had been
designated for construction of a religious-cultural center on Vernadsky
blvd., and to draw up the documentation for reconstruction and repair
of a House of Culture building in Solntsevo that had been acquired by
"Emmanuel" church in order to turn it into a house of worship.
During the course of the hearing, Judge Vladimir Petrovich Proshchenko
found that actually employees of the prefecture had let the time expire
for making suggestions for switching the event to another location. And
the church was not informed about the intentions of the prefecture to
change the place for conducting the demonstration.
Thus, the legality of the actions of the Moscow central "Emmanuel"
church in conducting the demonstration on Tver square on 30 May and 1,
2, and 3 June was established by judicial action.
The reason for the second suit was an illegal letter by the TsAO
prefecture sent to "Emmanuel" church containing the requirement that
instead of a demonstration of 500 persons lasting three hours there by
a demonstration of 150 persons lasting one hour.
After investigating the circumstances, Judge Proshchenko also came to
the conclusion that the actions of the employees of the TsAO prefecture
On the basis of this judicial decision, all of the numerous arbitrary
changes in manner of the conduct of public events as well as their size
and duration that were done by the TsAO prefecture were illegal.
According to Popov, the leadership of "Emmanuel" church hopes that
these decisions of the Tagan court will put a stop to the illegal
actions of employees of the TsAO prefecture and of officers of the
Department of Internal Affairs of Tver district and that responsible
persons will conduct themselves in a way that comports with and
respects existing legislation.
On 15 November the same court reviewed an appeal by the acting
prosecutor of Tver district, V.B. Sergeev, against a judicial decision
recognizing the innocence of ministers of "Emmanuel" church, who were
arrested on Tver square on 4 October. We recall that five
ministers of the church were illegally arrested on 4 October by
officers of the Department of Internal Affairs of Tver district during
the conduct of prayers on Tver square. On 18 October Justice of the
Peace A.B. Kovalevskaia reviewed the circumstances of this case and
ruled that the ministers of the church were innocent. Acting Prosecutor
Sergeev, by a strange coincidence, took an "active" part in all of the
trials concerning "Emmanuel" church and appealed any of the court's
decisions that favored the arrested members of the church. This time he
tried in vain to rescind the court's decision. The decision for
acquittal was left unchanged. (tr. By PDS, posted 17 November 2005)
"EMMANUEL" CHURCH CONDUCTS REGULAR PROTEST DEMONSTRATION AGAINST
DISCRIMINATION BY CITY AUTHORITIES
Portal-Credo.ru, 15 November 2005
A protest demonstration "against discrimination against the rights of
protestant Christians" was conducted on 13 November in Novopushkin
square in Moscow by the "Emmanuel" church of Christians of Evangelical
Faith (Pentecostals). Around 100 persons participated in the action,
As the press secretary of "Emmanuel" church, Yury Popov, reported, the
basic problem that action participants are asked to be resolved is the
return of land allocated for construction of a religious-cultural
center on Vernadsky blvd. He said that in 1996 the government of Moscow
suggested that the Pentecostals build a religious-cultural center on
Vernadsky blvd and it set aside land for the construction. "They
proposed, and we agreed; we did all the work and cleared trash from the
site. A great deal of money was invested," Popov said, noting that
later the authorities offered an alternative building site. "We
consider that we have both the juridical and moral right to begin
construction on the site originally offered us," the press secretary
Believers held placards in their hands on which was written:
"Protestants against discrimination against believers’ rights," "Moscow
central Emmanuel church against religious persecution," "Protestants
for the equality of rights of all confessions." (tr. By PDS, posted 17
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Church reunification talks in Ukraine collapse
PATRIARCH FILARET: DISCORD IN UKRAINE IS DESIRABLE TO MOSCOW
Portal-Credo.ru, 18 November 2005
Patriarch of Kiev and all-Rus and Ukraine Filaret Denisenko has called
the clergy and laity of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox church
[UAPTs] to unite without the consent of the hierarchy of UAPTs.
According to the Religious Information Service of Ukraine, he stated
this at a press conference on 17 November.
"The episcopacy of the Kievan patriarchate appeals to the clergy and
laity of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox church to unite with the
Kievan patriarchate without its hierarchy. Our church is prepared to
accept both parishes and clergy into membership in the Kievan
patriarchate in order to create in Ukraine a united local Orthodox
church," the hierarch said.
He reported that because of the position of the UAPTs episcopacy, the
agreement regarding unification between the two churches reached in
September and October of this year had been broken .
The patriarch reported that the leaders of UAPTs advocated unification
in words, but in deeds they have done everything in order that it could
not be achieved. With this goal, after reaching agreement regarding the
conducting of a joint unification council [sobor] and the organization
of a joint precouncil commission, bishops of UAPTs began putting
forward demands that contradicted the letter and the spirit of
previously signed documents.
Patriarch Filaret noted that bishops of UAPTs had tried to place the
blame for disruption of the unification of the churches upon UPTs of
the Kiev patriarchate, but all these accusations are baseless.
"We compromised and agreed with many of the conditions, but they
(UAPTs) created such conditions so that there would be no unification,"
the patriarch said. He is convinced that if UAPTs wishes to unite,
there should be no kinds of conditions at all." The issue is not the
conditions, but the lack of desire by UAPTs to create a united local
Orthodox church," Filaret thinks.
He noted that the overwhelming majority of bishops of UAPTs had begun
putting forward demands whose essence was singular: the
precondition of unification must be the retirement of the primate of
the Kiev patriarchate, which coincides entirely with the position of
the Moscow patriarchate. "We could not accept such conditions,
since this would lead not to a strengthening of the Kiev patriarchate
but to its destruction. If the Kiev patriarchate accepted such
conditions, it would be destroying itself," the patriarch is convinced.
The primate noted that it was during the time of his rule that the Kiev
patriarchate had become twice as strong, from 1200 parishes in 1995 to
around 4,000 today.
Besides, he said, fulfillment of such demands would lead to destructive
consequences in the Kiev patriarchate, and a struggle for power would
begin. "They want to put our church on the path not of strengthening
the local Orthodox church, but of self-destruction, discord, and
enmity," he noted.
The primate of UPTsKP is persuaded that "external forces" are behind
these actions. "Our neighboring state and the Russian church do not
want Ukrainian Orthodoxy to be united and for a unified local church to
be created. For the Moscow patriarchate, it is more desirable that
there be discord in Ukraine not only in the political atmosphere but
also in the church field. These forces have done everything possible so
that there would not be unification," the patriarch said.
According to him, unification of the churches without the consent of
the UAPTs hierarchy would not lead to a contradiction. "I think that
our call cannot lead to tension, since this will be a voluntary
transfer of UAPTs parishes to the Kiev patriarchate," he said.
At the same time, the patriarch noted that sooner or later Ukrainian
Orthodoxy will be unified into one local church. To the question of
when this will happen, Patriarch Filaret said: "The Lord God knows
about that." (tr. By PDS, posted 19 November 2005)
REUNIFICATION TALKS BETWEEN TWO
UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCHES COLLAPSE, OFFICIAL SAY
by Mara D. Bellaby,
AP Worldstream,Kiev, Ukraine, Thu, Nov 17, 2005
Talks aimed at reuniting two breakaway Ukrainian Orthodox churches have
collapsed, church officials said Thursday, dealing a serious blow to
efforts to create a single independent Orthodox Christian church in
this ex-Soviet republic.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kiev Patriarchate and the much smaller
Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church began formal reunification
talks in May, in what was seen as a first step toward reuniting this
predominantly Orthodox nation under one church.
The move was also seen as an effort to lessen the dominating influence
of the Russian Orthodox Church. Representatives from both churches,
however, said the talks have collapsed and the blamed each other,
saying unacceptable demands led to the breakdown.
"It wasn't a unification, but annexation," said Deacon Taras Soluk, a
spokesman for the Autocephalous Church, based in the western city of
Lviv. "We support unification but in equal conditions for both of the
Patriarch Filaret, who heads the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kiev
Patriarchate, accused the leaders of the Autocephalous Church of
"inconsistent and non-constructive positions" but he said he believed
the two churches would eventually unite. Asked when, he answered: "Only
God knows this."
He said a key stumbling block was who would lead the united church. The
Autocephalous church had proposed that an entirely new leader be chosen
by casting lots, Filaret said - a demand he would never agree to. "This
wouldn't lead to the strengthening of the Kiev Patriarchate but its
destruction," he said.
He called on members of the Autocephalous Church to ignore their
leaders and move independently to join the Kiev Patriarchate.
And he warned also said that the failure of the churches to unite plays
into the hands of Moscow, which is eager not lose control over Kiev,
the historical birthplace of Russian Orthodoxy. The Autocephalous'
Soluk criticized calls for its church members to defect.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine's Orthodox community
split into three parts, largely due to disagreements over what kind of
relationship to maintain with the larger, Russian Orthodox Church - to
be an equal or a daughter to Moscow.
Ukraine's Moscow Patriarchate, which remains subservient to the Russian
Orthodox Church, is the largest church operating in Ukraine, with some
But the Kiev Patriarchate has more than tripled in size in the past 10
years to some 4,000 parishes and 41 dioceses. The Autocephalous Church
is much smaller with 5 dioceses and is located primarily in western
Ukraine. (posted 19 November 2005)
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Department of Justice contemplates
restrictions on religion
SPIRITUAL CENTRALISM; GOVERNMENT PREPARES RELIGIOUS REFORM
By Anastasiia Kornia, Nedezhda Ivanitskaia
Vedomosti, 14 November 2005
"Vedimosti" has obtained a report by the Ministry of Justice that
contains radical measures for intensifying control over religious
organizations. In particular, it is proposed to stiffen the procedures
for issuing entry visas for missionaries and to simplify the procedures
for liquidating religious centers.
The ministry's report was prepared for the October enlarged session of
the Security Council. The document's authors consider that Russia has
been subjected to "foreign religious expansion." In the past ten years
the number of religious movements in the country has grown from 20 to
69. To counter this expansion it is proposed to limit the flow into
Russia of foreign missionaries and to regulate the registration of
religious associations. The report is interesting in that it summarizes
a large part of the initiatives that the government is taking with
respect to religion. However, in the opinion of experts, by no means
can all of them be accomplished.
The best prospects are for suggestions "to limit and regulate issuance
of entry visas for foreign religious figures." The report's authors
acknowledge that the experience of the Maritime territory has been
positive, where over the past two years applications for visas for
missionaries have been reviewed by the local office of
"Rosregistratsiia." This has been done on the basis of a simple
agreement with the Department of Internal Affairs of the Maritime
territory, inasmuch as since 2003 the Ministry of Justice has been one
of the ministries that has the right of making decisions regarding the
undesirability of the presence of one or another foreigner on the
territory of the country. All it would take would be to expand the
Maritime experience to the whole of Russia.
Another suggestion of the Ministry of Justice could be enacted only
legislatively. It consists of simplifying the liquidation of a
religious organization. It suggests that the basis for liquidation
could be two verdicts of a court regarding "crimes of an extremist
nature," issued with regard to two of its members in the course of one
year. It is also proposed to establish administrative and criminal
liability for illegal missionary activity. However, according to the
director of the Department of Constitutional Legislation and Security
Legislation of the Ministry of Justice, Evgeny Sidorenko, these
initiatives have not yet been drawn up in the form of draft
legislation. Their fate, according to the bureaucrat, could be
determined in the course of work on a law for combating terrorism,
which has been going on in the State Duma since last year.
According to a source in the government, after simplifying liquidation,
the Ministry of Justice would want at the same time to make
registration of a religious organization more complicated. He said that
in the State Duma amendments to the law "On freedom of conscience"
already are being prepared which will specifically provide for
conducting a required expert analysis by religion specialists as part
of the registration of religious organizations. Vice-chairman of
the State Duma Committee on Affairs of Public Organizations, Alexander
Chuev, does not rule out the possibility that amendments could be
introduced into parliament by the end of the year.
Finally, the Ministry of Justice has radical suggestions, which, in
Chuev's opinion, could hardly count on the approval of the duma. The
report's authors note that a single confession often is represented by
an "inappropriate" number of religious centers: for example, there are
more than forty officially registered central ecclesiastical boards of
Muslims. This, the authors of the document maintain, "does not
facilitate the consolidation of the Russian Muslim community." As an
alternative, it is proposed to provide for "the existence of a single
central organization of one confessional identity on a given territory
in the capacity of legal entity."
This innovation has evoked the most complaints among representatives of
confessions. Muslims think that the problems have arisen primarily
among them. "In the first place this pertains to Islam," says the
chairman of the Islamic Committee, Geidar Djemal. "This is connected
with the campaign to discover the forces that are destabilizing the
regime." Similar concerns also are expressed by representatives of the
Jewish community. "In Judaism there are many diverse trends, and among
rabbis there is definite antagonism," Zinovy Kogan, chairman of the
Congress of Jewish Religious Communities and Organizations,
acknowledges. The president of the Institute of the Near East, Evgeny
Satanovsky, agrees that representatives of eastern religions will never
be able to unite: "As regards eastern confessions—Jews, Muslims—a
decentralized system is their common characteristic."
"It is hard to comment on suggestions that are not finalized," says the
vice-chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the
Moscow patriarchate, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin. "But so far as I
know, nobody is preparing any revolutions. We are talking about
improving the law within the framework of already existing concepts.
This will permit society, to a great extent, to control what happens
within the religious sphere." (tr. by PDS, posted 19 November 2005)
Posted on Religiia i
SMI site, 14 Jovember 2005
KREMLIN SEEKS TIGHTER CONTROLS OVER RELIGION
by Paul Goble
Eurasia, 15 November 2005
A report prepared by the Russian Federation's Justice Ministry
for the October meeting of that country's Security Council calls for a
series of measures that would allow Moscow to exercise far tighter
control over Russian religious life than at any time since the end of
the Soviet Union.
The report, as described in "Vedomosti" yesterday, urges restricting
the number of missionaries coming into the country, making it easier
for the authorities to shut down religious groups, and requiring that
all members of one religion be subordinate to a single center
Some of these measures can be introduced administratively, while others
would require legislative action. Consequently, they are not all likely
to be introduced at least anytime soon. But taken together, these
ideas suggest that senior officials in Moscow have little interest in
maintaining the freedom of religion mandated by the Russian
"Vedomosti," which did not say how it had obtained the document in
question, entitled its discussion of it "Spiritual Centralism."
According to the paper, the Justice Ministry officials behind this
report argue that Russia has been subject to "foreign religious
expansion" and must respond now in order to defend its spiritual space.
Over the last ten years alone, the report's authors say, the number of
religious movements in the Russian Federation has risen from 20 to 69,
something that they see as threatening the traditional religious fabric
of the country rather than reflecting Russia 's new-found commitment to
The report calls for "reducing and putting in order the handing ouf of
entry visas to foreign religious figures," something that officials in
the Russian Far East have already done as the report's authors note.
Because these steps could be taken administratively, the paper
suggested, they were the most likely.
The report also urges simplifying the procedures under which the
government could liquidate a religious community. It proposed that
officials be allowed to close any religious group if a court had twice
found it guilty in the course of the year of "crimines of an extremist
And the report suggests the introduction of administrative and criminal
responsibility for illegal religious activity. But both of these
measures would require new laws, and Yevgeniy Sidorenko, the director
of the Justice Ministry's constitutional law department, told
"Vedomosti" that no such legislation had even been drafted.
At the same time, another Russian government official told the paper
that the Justice Ministry would also like to make it more difficult for
religious organizations to gain the official registration they need to
rent or own land, open a bank account, and otherwise act as legal
Aleksandr Chuyev, who is the deputy chairman of the Duma's Committe on
Social Organizations, as quoted by "Vedomosti" as saying that such
legislation, in the form of amendments to the law on freedom of
conscience might be introduced and then approved before the end of this
But some of the Justice Ministry's most radical proposals are unlikely
to be submitted to or approved by the country's legislature anytime
soon. But because they provide an indication of the direction of
official thinking, they may ultimately prove to be the most important.
The report, to give but one example, suggests that there is something
wrong with a situation in which "members of one and the same religious
confession are frequently represented by an inadequate number of
religious centers: for example, there exist more than 40 officially
registered central spiritual administrations of Muslims."
Such an arrangement, the report continues, "does not promote the
consolidation of the Russian Muslim community." And the Justice
Ministry proposes considering "the creation of one central organization
[for Muslims, Jews and others with multiple centers] on a given
territory as a legal person."
Geidar Dzhemal', the chairman of the Islamic Community of Russia,
told the paper that this proposal, which has been made by various
Kremlin officials in recent months, is part of a more general "campaign
searching for forces which [supposedly] are destabilizing the regime."
And Zinoviy Kogan, the chairman of the Congress of Jewish
Religious Communities and Organizations in the Russian Federation,
pointed out that "in Judaism there are many different trends,"
something that would make the creation of a single administrative
structure problematic at best.
Meanwhile, Father Vsevolod Chaplin, the deputy head of the Moscow
Patriarchate's External Affairs Committee, told "Vedomosti" that he and
his church were not unduly concerned by the Justice Ministry's report.
He said he was unaware that the government had taken any new decisions
in this area.
Instead, this senior Orthodox churchman concluded, all that the report
really pointed to is the fact that the Russian government now
recognizes how important it is to improve existing legislation in order
to "permit society to exercise a greater degree to control over what is
going on in the religious sphere." (posted 19 November 2005)
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