Monitoring news media reports about religion in Russia
countries of CIS
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Religion News Current News Items
Jehovah's Witnesses threatened with wide-ranging
PREACHING WITH TOUCH OF EXTREMISM
Criminal case opened in Orenburg province against 3000-member society
of Jehovah's Witnesses, which has existed now for 18 years
by Vladimir Gordeev
Gazeta.ru, 5 May 2012
Authorities continue pressure on Jehovah's Witnesses. The Investigation
Administration of the Investigative Committee [SUSK] for Orenburg
province discovered extremism in the activity of the regional church of
Jehovah's Witnesses and opened a criminal case against the
organization, which had not provoked suspicions among law enforcement
officials in the course of 18 years.
On Saturday the Investigative Committee of Orenburg province reported
the opening of the criminal case against the Jehovah's Witnesses
religious organization. Adherents of the belief in the imminent end of
the world and the return of Christ are suspected of extremism. "A
criminal case has been opened regarding indicators of the crime
stipulated in part 1 article 282 of the Criminal Code of RF (inciting
enmity or strife along with demeaning human dignity)" a report of the
provincial SUSK says.
Orenburg investigators consider all the proclamation work of Jehovah's
Witnesses within the populace of the province to be extremist. The
criminal case was opened not regarding specific actions of individual
representatives of the society but "for the very activity" of the
entire religious organization that has existed in the province since
the beginning of the 1990s.
Witnesses have been active in the province since June 1994. In this
time representatives of the religious society have frequently conducted
mass events and preaching at which they expressed judgments "directed
at inciting enmity and strife along with demeaning of the dignity of
individuals and groups of persons on the basis of religious identity,"
the investigators note. The report does not say against representatives
of which religion they incited hatred. The provincial SUSK was also not
able to answer this question. "In order to clarify this it is necessary
to contact the investigator who is conducting the case, but he is not
here now. It is simply physically impossible to answer," the senior
assistant director of SUSK for Orenburg province, Anzhelika Linkova,
Operational support for the case of the Orenburg Jehovah's Witnesses
was conducted by personnel of the provincial administration of FSB and
MVD, specifically the Center for Combating Extremism (Center E) of
Orenburg province. Materials of the FSB directorate and the provincial
Center E served as the basis for opening the criminal case under
article 282. Agents and investigators had these materials after
conducting more than 15 searches in the religious society.
During the searches law enforcement agents seized "a substantial
quantity of objects having evidentiary value for the case," including
some literature. "But what kind of literature this is I cannot tell you
now," Linkova said. They also refused to talk about details of the case
at the provincial directorate of MVD. "The inspector for relations with
news media of the Investigative Committee has forbidden us to release
any information." She said that all details have been removed from
their website. "Everything comes only through them," Gazeta.ru was told
at the MVD directorate. For now investigators are only delineating the
range of suspects, Linkova says. "Investigative actions are under way."
Any representative of the provincial organization of Jehovah's
Witnesses who speaks at topical public events, or preaches, or
distributes literature could become a potential target of the criminal
case opened by the Orenburg SUSK. According to SUSK information,
there are on the order of 3,000 believers in the imminent end of the
world in the region. Actually we are talking about a total ban on the
activity of the Witnesses in a particular region. "This is a network
that operates throughout all of Russia. That needs to be understood,"
Experts consider the Orenburg case against Jehovah's Witnesses to be a
continuation of a nationwide campaign aimed at curtailing the society's
activity throughout the country. "This campaign began rather suddenly
in 2009 and has continued to the present," the director of the SOVA
Information and Analysis Center, Alexander Verkhovskii, told Gazeta.ru.
"They began pressure in all directions. At first large-scale
prosecutorial investigations were organized, and then fire departments
were engaged, and finally they began looking for extremism." The expert
does not see any special motives in the anti-Jehovist campaign; he says
"it is rather irrational." "It is understandable when pressure is
exerted on political organizations, but Jehovah's Witnesses are
completely harmless people and so I cannot understand the authorities'
actions," Verkhovskii says. He is amazed about the article under which
the criminal case in Orenburg province has been opened. The expert says
that usually a case against Jehovists is conducted under article 282.2
of the criminal code (continuation of activity of a prohibited
organization) on the basis of court decisions in other regions. "Maybe
there is some mistake, but in any case nothing will prevent a
reclassification of the case in the future," the expert notes.
Verkhovskii mentions that the criminal case itself gives practically
unlimited possibilities for investigators to pressure Jehovists. "They
can conduct searches and interrogations when and how they wish. But in
any case they have to find a suspect and take him to court. Another
scenario would be for the case to be closed by a decision from above,
but one should not count on this," the director of the SOVA center
Activity by Jehovists is officially banned in two regions in Russia. In
2004 a Moscow City Court banned the Moscow organizations of Witnesses,
which was one of the largest in Russia. This decision was challenged in
the European Court for Human Rights, which found that during the
judicial procedure the rights of members of the Moscow religious
society to judicial protection were violated. In 2009 the society was
banned in Rostov province.
Jehovah's Witnesses are an international religious organization with an
administrative center in New York. Until 1931 the organization was
called "Students of the Bible." According to the calculation of the
organization itself, Jehovists number 7,659,019 throughout the world.
There are 162,182 Jehovists in Russia, according to statistics from
2010. The teaching of Jehovists is based on their own interpretation of
the Bible. According to the official website of the organization,
adherents of the society call the only God Jehovah. Jehovists deny the
doctrine of the immortality of the soul and they believe in the
imminent end of the world. They think that the soul is the individual
himself, like any other living creature. Jehovists conduct active work
with the populace; they preach in public places, distribute literature,
and welcome all who wish to participate in their events. In the USA
Jehovah's Witnesses are officially registered as a religious and
Jehovah's Witnesses are one of the most persecuted by Russian
authorities religious organizations. Pressure is applied also at the
administrative level. For example, in October 2011 in Bashkiriia the
republican Ministry of Education sent to subordinate institutions and
schools a letter warning of the danger "of foreign religious
organizations of a destructive type." The letter, signed by the deputy
minister of education of Bashkiriia, Artur Surin, pointed out that the
number of such destructive organizations had reached almost 100. These
included Jehovah's Witnesses, Scientology, the church of Moon, Mormons,
Pentecostals, Adventists, and Baptists. In the bureaucrat's opinion,
representatives of these denominations display "criminal" methods of
work with the populace and therefore they should have access to
republican educational institutions only with a letter of
recommendation from the ministry. The directorate of MVD for Moscow
province has launched a special program for combating Jehovah's
Witnesses under the label "Apostates." In Cheliabinsk province local
authorities created a special commission consisting of representatives
of the local power structures and officials of the provincial
administration, which recommended that the authorities ban the activity
of Witnesses in the region. (tr. by PDS, posted 8 May 2012)
Russian original posted on Portal-credo.ru
site, 8 May 2012
Religion News Current News Items
On eve of inauguration Putin donates icon to church
PUTIN VISITS CHURCH WHERE HE IS PRAYED FOR "ROUND THE CLOCK"
Anchoresses sing uninterrupted psalter in this church and pray for
Grani, 6 May 2012
President-elect Vladimir Putin delivered to the Novodevichy monastery
the most ancient copy of the Iberian Mother of God icon, participated
in a procession of the cross, and visited the baptismal church of St.
Prince Vladimir, located in the basement of the Dormition church of the
cloister, RIA Novosti reports. Accompanied by Patriarch of Moscow and
all-Rus Kirill and the abbess of the convent, Hegumena Margarita, Putin
descended into this small church and set a candle before the icon of
The abbess told the premier that in recent years, in this church
anchoresses sing round the clock the uninterrupted psalter and pray for
his health. Putin also was invited to view an exhibit of ancient icons
from the church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, located in one of
the buildings of the convent. Hegumena Margarita described how several
of these icons have been awaiting restoration for decades, and the
patriarch called the premier's attention to a number of unique icons of
western icon painters that are substantially different from works of
Orthodox artists. . . . (tr. by PDS, posted 7 May 2012)
Russian original posted on Portal-credo.ru
site, 7 May 2012
PUTIN SETS CANDLE BEFORE ICON OF PRINCE VLADIMIR
7 May 2012
On the eve of his inauguration, after delivering a copy of the Iberian
icon of the Mother of God to the Novodevichy monastery, Russian
President Vladimir Putin visited the baptismal church of his heavenly
patron, Saint Prince Vladimir.
Accompanied by Patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus Kirill and the abbess of
the monastery, Hegumena Margarita, V. Putin descended into this small
church located in the basement of the Dormition church. He set a candle
before the icon of Prince Vladimir. . . .
V. Putin walked about the grounds of the monastery and conversed with
parishioners. (tr. by PDS, posted 7 May 2012)
IMPOSSIBLE TO IMAGINE RUSSIAN STATEHOOD OR CULTURE WITHOUT CHURCH—PUTIN
7 May 2012
Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin delivered on Sunday to the
Moscow Novodevichy monastery the most ancient copy of the Iberian icon
of the Mother of God in Rus. Along with Patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus
Kirill and Metropolitan of Krutitsy and Kolomna Yuvenaly, V. Putin
participated in a procession of the cross during which the icon was
carried by the clergy of the Moscow diocese from the cloister's gates
into the Smolensk cathedral, where a prayer service was conducted
Addressing the patriarch in the cathedral, the newly elected head of
state recalled that "this sacred object accompanied our ancestors over
the course of centuries, both in peaceful labors and on military
campaigns, including in the liberation of Smolensk from foreign
invaders in the middle of the 17th century." He urged remembering
that "without the Russian Orthodox Church it is impossible to imagine
either Russian statehood or our culture." "The Russian Orthodox Church,
like other traditional confessions, is the preserver of our moral
values," V. Putin said. He declared that he was delivering the icon to
the church with a feeling of happiness. "May it serve and aid people,"
V. Putin said.
In his turn, Patriarch Kirill called the delivery to the church of the
sacred item an historic event which "has great significance for the
life of our church, for the life of every believer, and the life of the
country." He emphasized that the icon has been donated with the full
consent of the museum community and with the support of the Ministry of
Culture "and all those people who know the spiritual and cultural value
of this image."
"We will pray before this miracle working icon. I would like to
announce that the first public prayer before this image and its first
veneration will be held on 24 May at one p.m. on St. Basil's Slope,
where we will open the Church-State Holiday of Slavic Literature and
Culture with a special public prayer service," the primate said.
He also congratulated V. Putin on his election to the post of
president. "I would like to congratulate you, Vladimir Vladimirovich,
on your election. May God grant that with the prayers of the church
before this miracle working image your activity in the office of
president will be conducted in peace and national prosperity,"
Patriarch Kirill said.
Then he served a prayer service before the image.
Many hundreds of believers had gathered in the church, including many
children. Some held printed representations of the Iberian icon of the
Mother of God in their hands.
On his part, Putin's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, told Interfax that
during the transfer of the icon "all necessary procedures were
conducted quite fast." He recalled that the initiator was V.Putin
himself. (tr. by PDS, posted 7 May 2012)
MOST ANCIENT COPY OF IBERIAN ICON OF THEOTOKOS IN RUS TO BE DELIVERED
TO NOVODEVICHY MONASTERY
4 May 2012
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on 6 May will deliver to the Novodevichy
monastery the most ancient copy of the Iberian icon of the Mother of
God in Rus. This was reported by Lenta.ru, citing the web site of the
Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (RPTsMP).
Patriarch Kirill and Metropolitan of Krutitsy and Kolomna Yuvenaly will
participate in the delivery of the icon. Hierarchs of RPTsMP will carry
the image from the gates of the cloister to the Smolensk cathedral.
There a prayer service will be performed before the icon.
Monastic priest Yamvlikh Romanov of Mt. Athos created the copy of the
Iberian icon in 1648 for Tsar Alexis Mikhailovich Romanov. In 1654 the
monarch took the icon on a victorious campaign against the Poles and
upon his return placed it in the Smolensk cathedral.
The image was kept in the Novodevichy monastery more than 300 years.
Only once, in 1913, was it removed from the cloister for a public
veneration on the occasion of the jubilee of the House of Romanov.
After the revolution, the monastery was closed and the icon was
transferred to the collection of the Historical Museum.
The 1648 copy is an exact reproduction of the Iberian icon that is kept
on Mt. Athos, whose painter, according to tradition, was St. Luke the
Evangelist. (tr. by PDS, posted 7 May 2012)
Religion News Current News Items
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