COURT CONFIRMS BAN ON ENTRY INTO RUSSIA OF AMERICAN CLERGYMAN FROM ST. PETERSBURG, WHOM NEWS MEDIA ACCUSED OF ESPIONAGE
Rosblat, 21 October 2016
The Russian Supreme Court ruled the actions of the FSB directorate for St. Petersburg and Leningrad province, which prevented entry into Russia of an American citizen, the pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of St. Petersburg, Shay Billy Fountain, to be legal, materials from the Supreme Court show.
"The decision/determination of the court is left without change," the file of the case says.
Fountain was earlier denied entry in the Russian federation on the basis of article 27 of the federal law "On procedure of exit and entry of the Russian federation." Fountain had left for Finland for the Christmas holidays, but he was not able to return. As was reported, the FSB connected this decision with the necessity "of ensuring the defense capability or security of the state, or public order, or protection of the health of the population."
The pastor appealed the FSB's refusal of entry onto the territory of the RF in the St. Petersburg city court; the appellate court left the decision in force.
Following the reports about the denial to Fountain of entry into Russia, one of the federal television channels broadcast a program, whose authors accused the pastor of spying.
In its turn, the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists considered this material as "inciting inter-religious strife, discrediting a famous Russian evangelical confession, and sowing distrust and suspicion in society." (tr. by PDS, posted 21 October 2016)
AMERICAN PASTOR SUES FEDERAL SECURITY SERVICE
RBK, 7 June 2016
The pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of St. Petersburg, Shay Billy Fountain, appealed in city court the FSB's denial of his entry onto Russian territory. Fontanka reports that this case will be considered today, 7 June.
Fountain had previously been denied entry into the country on the basis of article 27 of the federal law "On procedure of exit and entry of RF," while his visa was not cancelled. Before this, he had been allowed to leave Russia for Finland without trouble for the Christmas holidays, but he was not allowed to return, without explanation of the reasons.
Fountain filed suit in the St. Petersburg city court, requesting the removal of the restriction on entry which, according to the papers provided to him, was valid until August 2020. The defendants in the file of the case are identified as the Border Service of St. Petersburg and Leningrad Province and the regional directorate of the FSB.
It is known that the American has ministered in St. Petersburg since the 2000s in the Cornerstone church.
Fontanka recalls that in April 2002 the border service denied entry into Russia of the rector of Catholic churches in Vladimir and Ivanovo, Stefano Caprio. At that time he was let out to Italy but could not return. The Russian authorities appealed to the same federal law "On procedure of exit and entry of the RF" and did not explain the reason. Caprio's exile was widely publicized. In 2013 the priest appeared once again in Vladimir.
After Shay Billy Fountain was denied entry into the RF, a story was broadcast on the federal Channel 5 in which the suggestion was made that the clergyman was a spy. The news media account provoked a protest by Russian protestants. On 7 February 2016 the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists [EKhB] issued an official statement in connection with the broadcast of the story. The authors of the statement considered it "inciting inter-religious strife, discrediting of a famous Russian evangelical confession, and sowing distrust and suspicion in society." Representatives of the EKhB union noted that if the activity of the presbyter was "connected with criminal aims and intended to damage the national interests of our country, then logically he should be charged and expelled from the country," although the authorities did not do this.
The refusal of an entry visa to a clergyman who had worked for 15 years in Russia and the television reporting, in the opinion of the authors of the statement, "discredits the church of Evangelical Christians-Baptists in the eyes of the public, representing it as some American sect, which foreign spies exploit for their own activity in our country."
Struggle with "sects"
The senior academic fellow of the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Roman Lunkin, in a conversation with the SOVA Center for News and Analysis, suggested that the pastor had become the victim of another "antisectarian" wave in Russia (along with the pastor of the New Generation Church of Stavropol, Dmitry Savin, against whom a criminal case had been opened on the allegation that the ministers of his church used some kind of psychological practices).
"All actions with respect to non-Orthodox churches can now be viewed as the preparation for new hearings in the State Duma with regard to the adoption of a law combating 'sects' and introducing the concept of 'sect' into legislation. I hope that the plans of some deputies of the State Duma and the Moscow city duma regarding the struggle with 'sects' remains at the level of noisy statements. If amendments to the law 'On extremism' or the law 'On freedom of conscience' are adopted, then the situation will get out of control. What had been 'recreation' for prosecutor's offices will become religious policy," the article quotes him. (tr. by PDS, posted 21 October 2016)
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