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STEPASHIN DISSIPATES CONSEQUENCES OF MAKHACHKALA EVENTS
Muslim clergy and Nadir Khachilaev assure him of their loyalty
by German Aleksandrov
Nezavisimaia gazeta, 2 June 1998
Friday evening in Moscow there was a meeting of the minister of internal affairs of Russia, Sergei Stepashin, with Muslim clergy. Nadir Khachilaev also was supposed to participate in it. As is known, Khachilaev took an active part in the events of 21 May in the capital of Dagestan, Makhachkala, particularly the seizure of the building of the Government House of the republic.
However, despite promises to the leader of the Union of Muslims of Russia guaranteeing his safety and providing a plane for the flight, he did not arrive that day in the capital. Khachilaev showed up in the capital city only on Sunday.
Earlier through intermediaries Sergei Stepashin had appealed for advice to the representatives of Muslims. Last Friday he decided to meet with them personally. As noted in an interview with NG reporter, advisor of the Fund for the Development of the Tatar Religious Heritage "Khilial" Yuru Ivanov, who participated in the meeting, "muftis and imams can consult with the minister on any questions associated with the existence of Muslims in Russia in an educated and professional manner from the point of view of contemporary Islam."
The basic topics which were scheduled for discussion at this meeting were the latest disorders in the Northern Caucasus and measures which should be taken so that they not be repeated. Sergei Stepashin at the meeting with representatives of the Muslim clergy did not conceal his disappointment and dismay at the absence of Nadir Khachilaev. The actions of Khachilaev he explained as showing he probably had nothing to say. True, the minister did not rule out the possibility that technical difficulties prevented the leader of the Union of Muslims from reaching Moscow. In the lobbies of the meeting is was vigorously asserted that the deputy simply was afraid to fly to the capital, recalling the incident of the arrest of the minister of internal affairs if Ingushetia, Daud Korigov. In Khachilaev's absence Friday's consultation in MVD had a formal character.
Nadir Khachilaev flew to Moscow only on Sunday. That day he met with Sergei Stepashin. At the meeting he declared that he was ready at the very least to support the existing government of Dagestan. Commenting on his position, Khachilaev told reporters that "for the sake of peace in the prepublic I am ready to do anything." The leader of the Union of Muslims of Russia thinks that "the forces of reaction are still strong," but as a deputy, responsible for the comfort of his constituents, he "is ready to do everything so that what happened will not be repeated."
Khachilaev noted that if people who seized the Government House in Makhachkala on 21 May had not left it by evening, "Dagestan would have flared up like a torch." Khachilaev associated the bloodless resolution of the incident in Dagestan on 21 May with the actions of the head of the State Council of the republic, Magomedala Magomedov.
On the whole Khachilaev considers the incident a provocation. He called federal law enforcement agencies to investigate "who gave the order to open fire in the morning of 21 May around his house," with which, in his opinion, the events of that day began. In his turn Sergei Stepashin noted that DAgestan already had been given special funds from the federal government's budget for supporting the economy of the republic. (tr. by PDS)
SECURITY OF CIS THREATENED BY RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM
Segodnia, 5 June 1998
The power ministers of CIS took note of the growing threat to the security of the countries of the Commonwealth from religious extremism, including the most extreme of its manifestations, Wahhabism. "Wahhabism for Russia is no longer a matter of speculation; we need to deal with the arrival of money and weapons and the organization of military training camps," declared Minister of Internal Affairs Sergei Stapashin at the concluding press conference of the session of the council of ministers of internal affairs in Tashkent. In his words, it is necessary to create in the Bureau for Coordination of the Struggle with Organized Crime a special section for struggle with the manifestation of religious extremism. The chairman of the council of ministers of internal affairs, the head of MVD in Uzbekistan, Zakirzhon Almatov, stated that the supraregional bureau of Interpol of CIS will act within the boundaries of the Bureau for Coordination of the Struggle with Organized Crime of the countries of the Commonwealth. At the session the decision was made not to create a new structure as had been suggested by the European headquarters of Interpol. (tr. by PDS)
Russian text: Stepashin
(posted 8 June 1998)
THEY REMEMBER CONSCIENCE WHEN IT COMES TO MONEY
by Denis Babichenko
Segodnia, 3 June 1998
"Diplomacy" of the department of internal politics of the administration of the president did not succeed
The law "On freedom of conscience and religious associations" which has been in effect since last fall has found cautious respect in America. USA President Bill Clinton sent to Congress a written declaration that "in Russia laws that have a discriminatory character with respect to religious minorities are not being enforced," and the law "On freedom of conscience and religious associations" does not contradict Russia's international obligations in the area of religious freedom. Despite the concrete conclusions, individual representatives of the US adminsitration continue to speak negatively of the law. With whom, incidentally, several officials in Moscow also agree in part, but they prefer not to make any changes in the law or, at worst, to write an appeal in Yeltsin's name to the Constitutional Court and to convince the Americans that in time everything will settle down.
After Clinton's report there seemed to be a chance in Russia for lifting the moratorium on receiving financial aid of 135 million dollars. The chance, however, is not great. Because American legislators view the law skeptically. They have their own disturber of the peace, Republican Senator Gordon Smith, who completely blasts the law and intends not only to halt the distribution of humanitarian aid but to introduce broad economic sanctions against Russia. Congress on his initiative already has voted for the corresponding bill, which has been sent on to the Senate
Such a turnabout could hardly have been foreseen by the administration of internal politics (UVP) of the administration of the Russian president, whose leadership arranged the visit to Russia last year of members of the international public committee which is concerned for the problem of the rights of believers. In April Russia was visited by another delegation of state deputies to deal with the same subject, also at the expense of Russian taxpayers. According to the responsible official of UVP, Andrei Protopopov, the Americans "studied the situation comprehensively" and found only insignificant, episodic cases of violations of believers' rights. After this visit Clinton's "acceptable" conclusion was drawn up. Then at the expense of the American treasury the delegation from UVP visited USA. According to the conclusions of the trip it was ascertained that "Americans have a stable level of confidence." The reaction of the UVP to the criticism of the law in US Congress could not be explained to the Segodnia reporter. According to his secretary, director of UVP Andrei Loginov over the course of two weeks was either "busy now" or "in conference." Protopopov acknowledged that for him "it is hard to speak about this subject, but in MID they have their hand on the pulse." It turns out that they travel a lot and check the mood. Let others feel the pulse. (tr. by PDS)
Russian text: Vspomnili o sovesti
(posted 8 June 1998)
Anti-Semitism Tests Russia's Jews
by Judith Ingram
(c)The Associated Press
7 June 1998
MOSCOW (AP) - The cluster of young men loitering across the street from a Moscow synagogue looked like any other bunch of teen-agers with a spring evening stretching before them and nothing much to do.
But the 10 soon found their entertainment, chanting: ``Beat it to Israel, Jews! Heil Hitler!''
There was a time when Borukh Gorin might have brushed it off as a rebellious teen-age outburst, not worth reporting to police. But that same day, arsonists attempted to set fire to his synagogue, and a Jewish cemetery in Siberia was desecrated. A few days earlier, a bomb damaged another Moscow synagogue.
``These displays are all tests of how we'll react, how the authorities will respond,'' said Gorin, editor of the Jewish monthly Lechayim (To Life). ``If the reaction isn't strong enough, they'll do it again.''
The recent physical and psychological attacks have frightened Jews, who had just begun to feel comfortable with their identity after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union ended state-sponsored anti-Semitism.
For the first time in decades, being Jewish wasn't something to hide in Russia. Jews no longer faced the officially propagated image of Israel as a terrorist state or newspaper caricatures of the Jew as a humiliated weakling or a conniving thief.
But anti-Semitism didn't melt away with the Soviet state. New voices have risen, from rabidly anti-Semitic newspapers sold across the country to Jew- baiting orators at rallies marking every national holiday.
``In other countries, ultranationalists have to try to prove they're not Nazis. Society reacts to them just as it would if they appeared naked in public,'' said Alexander Osovtsov, executive vice president of the Russian Jewish Congress. ``This sense of what can and cannot be expressed doesn't yet exist in Russia.''
Some politicians are increasingly speaking against a reputed Jewish influence, citing Jews like powerful financier Boris Berezovsky. And more extremists are entering politics, such as the ultranationalist Russian National Unity paramilitary organization that plans to run in next year's parliamentary elections.
Lev Gudkov, a sociologist who has been surveying anti-Semitic attitudes in Russia since 1990, said the outspokenness was the newest wrinkle in a country that has long had ingrained anti-Semitic attitudes among broad swaths of the population.
``Up to 1993, anti-Semitic and xenophobic goals weren't part and parcel of the main parties' rhetoric. There was a sharp divide between the main parties and the extremists,'' Gudkov said. ``That divide is weakening.''
According to Gudkov's surveys, 6 percent to 10 percent of Russians harbor aggressive hatred toward Jews, while up to 15 percent more are passively anti- Semitic and 30 percent are selectively so - for example, enjoying work with Jewish colleagues but fretting over the perceived increase of Jews' influence in government and culture.
Still, Gudkov said anti-Semitism is gradually diminishing among Russians - while other forms of xenophobia, including hatred of Chechens, Azerbaijanis and other people from the Caucasus Mountains region, is in full bloom.
The only demographic segment that has demonstrated growth in anti-Semitic feelings is the Soviet-era elite, he said. Their chagrin over losing authority has been amplified by feelings of national humiliation from Russia losing its superpower status.
Those people are among the supporters of such mainstream politicians as Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, whose appeals to voters' patriotism have been sprinkled with anti-Semitic comments.
Another is Nikolai Kondratenko, the Communist governor of the agriculturally rich Kuban region in the south. He has blamed the country's economic downturn and moral confusion on the new prominence of Jews.
``Today, we are warning this dirty cosmopolitan fraternity: Your place is in Israel and in America,'' he said in a speech to veterans a year ago quoted by Diagnoz, a magazine founded by the Russian Jewish Congress.
Kondratenko has broadened his base by drafting youth to promote his anti- Semitic and xenophobic program and using young toughs in black uniforms to patrol Kuban's streets and keep a check on unwanted foreigners.
The implicit backing of such politicians seems to have emboldened the most aggressive anti-Semites to move from words to violence.
Jewish leaders say authorities are ignoring the legal tools available to fight anti-Semitism - the constitutional ban on ethnic and religious incitement, the Criminal Code article punishing terrorism, the Moscow city ordinance prohibiting the display of Nazi symbols.
Officials are reluctant to confront virulent anti-Semitic groups because ``they need their votes,'' said Berel Lazar, an Italian-born Lubavitcher rabbi who presides over the association of rabbis of the former Soviet Union.
``Their attitude is, `Let them live, as long as they don't go too far.''
(posted 8 June 1998)
CHAOS OR START OF ISLAMIC REVOLUTION?
Lessons of the "Dagestan Uprising" of 21 May
Metaphrasis, 25-31 May 1998
Nadir Khachilaev: We do not need power
After the supporters of the leader of the Union of Muslims of Russia (CMR), Nadir Khachilaev, seized the Government House of Dagestan on 21 May and raised the Islamic flag over it, the situation in the republic has remained tense. Commenting on the events of that tragic Thursday, the leader of SMR accused the government of Dagestan of organized provocation and demanded that the republic be led by a "popularly elected leader." "We do not need power; we have shown our independence and care for that power which is completely corrupt."
After the massive demonstrations organized by Magomed and Nadir Khachilaev in the district of the village of Karamakhi there was a gun battle between police and local residents "known to be adherents of the radical Islamic movement Wahhabism (although the people of Karamakhi do not consider themselves Wahhabis)," as a result of which one policeman died. (Nezavisimaia gazeta, 26 May)
Ramazan Abdulatipov behind Nadir Khachilaev?
At the center of the story about the attempted "governmental takeover" is the president of the Union of Muslims of Russia and State Duma deputy Nadir Khachilaev. According to one version, police of Makhachkalin tried to stop a passing vehicle from which shooting erupted, as a result of which two police were killed. The vehicle entered the yard of the house of Khachilaev, after which the house was surrounded by OMON soldiers who began firing upon it. According to another version, the vehicle of the bodyguard of Nadir Khachilaev was fired upon on Titov Street by unknown persons who were dressed in police uniforms and the guard opened fire from the vehicle. The conflict expanded steadily.
Khachilaev brought people out of his house and they proceeded to the central square of the city, and a crowd gathered in front of the Government Building, which took over the institution without resistance. Several hours after conversations with the leader of the republic, people left the building and dispersed.
The story of the rise in the Moscow political arena of the young representative of the well-known Dagestan family is curious. Five years ago the exotic figure of Khachilaev in the tall Caucasian fur hat began appearing more frequently in the meetings of UMR, which had been led not so much by people from the Caucasus as by Tatar Muslims. Gradually the reins of leadership were transferred into Khachilaev's hands; he became in practice the financial supporter of the organization which badly needed financial infusions.
Observers connect the state of affairs with the elections which are supposed to be held in Dagestan on 26 June. The Union of Muslims headed by Khachilaev has openly supported a change in the electoral system existing in Dagestan, which he calls undemocratic. Khachilaev himself for now represents no threat to the present head of the State Council. For many reasons, including purely national ones, Khachilaev has little chance of winning the post of administrator of the republic in the elections. He is dangerous for a different reason: behind Khachilaev the head of the State Council detects the strong figure of a Dagestani with general Russian significance, Ramazan Abdulatipov. (Moskovskie novosti, 24-31 May)
Export of Wahhabism from Arabia destabilizing world politics
The young Caucasians from Chechnia, Dagestan, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria who are being trained in the diversion and scouting schools of Chechnia are united by their adherence to Wahhabism, a religious movement founded in the eighteenth century by Muhammed Ban Abdel Wahhab. Wahhab provided the religious and ideological basis for the jihad (holy war) which was conducted by Muhammed Ben Saud with the goal of creating a single kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Today Saudi Arabia is engaged in the export of Wahhabism to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Algeria, and many other countries, including some on the territory of FSU. In Algeria Wahhabis created the "Islamic Salvation Front" and just since 1991 the victims of religious fanatacism has exceeded 100,000 persons. According to information from the former vice premier R. Abdulatipov, " in Dagestan there are more than 2,000 Wahhabis who are united in controlled and well armed militia groups." The center of Wahhabism in Dagestan is considered to be the city Kizil-Yurt, and in Chechnia Wahhabis live in the Vedeno district where the detachments of field commander Khattab are located. (Pravda, 28 May)
Village of Karamakhi: Wahhabis and Tarikatists
The Islamic revolution is maturing now in the south of Russia. Its main driving force is the Wahhabis. Several years ago no one in Dagestan even knew this word. The den of Russian Wahhabism is the mountain village of Karamakhi, the most prosperous village of the region. In almost every one of the yards around the two-story homes are "KamAZ" vehicles. So Wahhabis also are called "kamazists." These heavy-duty trucks have long been the sign of prosperity. They take the potatoes grown in the village into Chechnia and bring tangerines from Azerbaijan. It is remarkable that the Wahhabis own more "KamAZ" than do Tarikatists (adherents of traditional Islam), which indicates the better material success of the former.
The watershed between Wahhabis and Tarikatists follows the external forms: Tarikatists do not wear beards and their wives and daughters do not hide under veils (yashmaks). Wahhabis behave distinctively, but insofar as practically all residents of the village are connected by family ties, the lines of opposition run through families. In Karamakhi brothers, fathers, and sons of the same bloodline have become enemies. From time to time fights break out in the village. One of the latest happened on 2 February. It is said that some Wahhabi was speaking contemptuously about Tarikatists, a fist fight erupted, which practically turned into an armed confontation. Wahhabis took refuge in a mosque with their families, and only the arrival of police forces in Karamakhi prevented fratricidal bloodshed.
Wahhabis welcome the spread of their ideology among non-Muslims. In Karamakhi there are three Russian Wahhabis, Ibragim (nee Nikolai from Yaroslavl), his namesake, and Isa (nee Igor) from Rostov. "It's useless to speak bad of Wahhabis," Ibragim saidl; "they are the only true Muslims. Just think about the faith."
Wahhabis are not liked in Dagestan. Upon their appearance this multinational region was transformed into an arena of intrareligious conflict. "In no case is it permitted to restrict people on the basis of religious affiliation; this is forbidden by the constitution and the law on freedom of conscience," said the secretary of the Security Council of Dagestan, Magomed Tolboev. "Many people have joined their ranks sincerely. But we are fighting against religious extremism, if it is directed to the overthrow of the constitutional order." In the decrees of the Security Council of Dagestan there are documents about the transfer to local Wahhabis of enormous sums of money from foreign Islamic centers, in the main from Saudi Arabia. People talk in public about this plainly: "Like prostitutes they sell their faith for dollars."
Wahhabism was brought to Dagestan five years ago by a young Arab named Abdul Rakhim. Staying in village after village, he began to spread Wahhabism which was a new form of Islam for Dagestanis. The seed of religious propaganda fell on fertile soil; soone there were many adherents of this movement. Abdul Rakhim settled in Karamakhi and by the time he was deported from Degestan many men in this village had grown their beards and women put on the veil. Abdul Rakhim left disciples behind in Dagestan. The most open of these are Aiub, an Astrakhanian, and Bagavutddin, from Kizil-Yurt. These leaders are calling for the separation of Dagestan from Russia and the establishing of a fundamentalist Islamic state on its territory.
Dagestani Wahhabis are closely linked with Chechnia. The most obvious evidence of this is the participation of local Wahhabis in the attack on the military unit in Buinaksk which was organized by a detachment of the Jordanian Khattab which is entrenched in Chechnia. Incidentally, Khattab himself married a woman from Karamakhi.
"Will Dagestan become a 'second Chechnia?"" I asked the secretary of the Security Council Magomed Tolboev. "Quite possibly," he admitted. A diversionary war is already going on; explosions occur and hostages are being taken. Wahhabism is not sprouting up in Dagestan by chance, although here even in the time of Shamil the women did not wear veils. The social disorder is one of its main causes. Unemployment, especially among the youth, is much higher in Dagestan than Russia. But money flows. My new acquaintance, the Wahhabi Magomed, both grew a beard and has not worked for two years, but the money is flowing. In Dagestan one hears such things as the West is trying to use "petrodollars" from Saudi Arabia with the help of Wahhabis to turn the south of Russia into small Muslim states so that it will be easier to gain control of the rich petroleum reserves of the region. Islamic fundamentalism in Russia has become a reality and it is threatening us with serious harm. (Tribuna, 27 May) (tr. by PDS)
Russian text at Metaphrasis
(posted 8 June 1998)
RUSSIANS AGAINST CHURCH INTERFERENCE
Fom-Info, 28 May 1998
Respondents were given several questions about their attitude toward the public participation of individual representatives of the church in political life and toward the interference of the church in state affairs. Most often Russians felt negatively about each. Thus 56% of those questioned do not approve when church leaders call voters to vote or, alternatively, not to vote for certain candidates in elections (20% approve); 44% do not approve ministers of the church running for office and engaging in politics (33% approve); 41% do not approve ministers of the church publicly expressing their opinion about the actions of various politicians (approve 32%). About half of those questioned (47%) consider that the church should not exert influence on mass media (38% hold to the opposite opinion). Although more than half of respondents (58%) call themselves believers (including 51% Orthodox), a majority of those questioned (58%) nevertheless oppose the introduction of religious education into the general education schools (28% support). The survey was conducted on 16 May 1998 among 1500 respondents in both cities and villages of Russia. (tr. by PDS)
Russian text at Obshchestvennoe mnenie
(posted 8 June 1998)
CALVARY FELLOWSHIP PROSPERS
by Liliia Solomonova, Radiotserkov
MOSCOW, 5 June. On 28 May the "Calvary Fellowship" Association of Christians of Evangelical Faith was registered by the Ministry of Justice of Russia within the framework of the Russian Associated Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith (Sergei Riakhovsky, president). This was reported by the president of Calvary Fellowship in Russia, Natalia Shchedrivaia, in an interview with a Radiotserkov reporter.
Calvary began its work in Russia in 1990, when the first Bible School in the former USSR was opened in Elgava, Latvia. In 1993 the center of this organization was moved to Moscow. With the passage of the new law on freedom of conscience, the threat of closure hung over the association and therefore the leadership of Calvary decided to join the Pentecostal union of Christians of Evangelical Faith, which was registered on 30 March 1998, in order to receive legal recognition from the state.
The Calvary Fellowship association has opened 238 churches on the territory of the FSU since 1990 and today it comprises not only churches in the cities of Russia and several countries of CIS and the Baltics but also the ministry "King's Hunters" for children, the international marriage ministry "Married for Life," and several other ministries.
From 21 July to 20 August the Calvary Fellowship will condut a "tent ministry" in Minsk. As the president of Calvary in Russia, Natalia Shchedrivaia, told a Radiotserkov reporter, this will be the first of such ministries on the territory of the countries of FSU. After Minsk the tent ministry will be handed on to Russia. "We want to resurrect the tent meetings which in the 1950s were rather widespread in Ukraine. For this we already have acquired a tent that accommodates 4,000 seats in which the meetings will be conducted in Minsk," said Natalia Shchedrivaia. Speakers for these meetings will include Kevin and Leslie MacNolte, regional directors of Calvary International of Eurasia, Natalia Shchedrivaia, and other ministers of this organization. (tr. by PDS)
Russian text at Radiotserkov
(posted 7 June 1998)
ARCHPRIEST IOANN KORMIANSKY CANONIZED
Belorusskaia delovaia gazeta
MINSK. 4 June. The Russian Orthodox church recently canonized Fr Ioann Kormiansky as a locally venerated saint. And 31 May became a day of special celebration for Orthodox; representatives of the clergy and thousands of Belarussian, Russian, and Ukrainian believers flocked to the church of the Protection located in the village of Korm in Dobrushky district in order to attend the glorification of the relics of St. Ioann Kormiansky.
The special importance of the event was underscored by the participation in the ceremonies of Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Slutsk, the patriarchal exarch for Belarus, who celebrated the liturgy.
The history of the discovery of the relics is as follows. In September 1991 Fr Stefan, the rector of the Holy Protection church, decided to begin the restoration of the Saint Nicholas church, that has existed until 1956 in the neighboring village of Orogoden. The local atheists had left only the foundation of the church and the churchyard had been turned into a soccer field. The excavation equipment that had been brought to the site had hardly begun its work when its wheel broke through the soil. The frightened workman discovered two graves: from 1917 and the end of the 1930s. But what was really amazing was that in one of the graves only dust was discovered while in the other there were relics, unaffected by decay or time. Then someone recalled that the rector Archpriest Ioann Kormiansky had been buried at the church and that twenty years later one of his four sons, who also was a priest, was "laid" next to him. In August 1997 the Belarussian exarch made a decision about displaying the relics of Archpriest Ioann for believers and he sent documents for his canonization to the synod of the Russian Orthodox church.
Rather a lot is known about Saint Ioann Kormiansky. He led the parish of St. Nicholas church in the 1870s. After the birth of the seventh child in his family, Fr Ioann received from the elders of the caves monastery in Kiev permission to undertake a monastic form of life and for practicing exorcism. The word of Fr Ioann had a special force and he performed innumerable healings and thus people began to reach out to him from all parts of the Russian empire. Fr Ioann died at age 78. The first book about him and his miracles was specially issued in advance of the canonization. (tr. by PDS)
Russian text at Pravoslavie v Rossii
(posted 6 June 1998)
"NO SALVATION OUTSIDE CHURCH"
by Valeriia Sycheva
Segodnia, 3 June 1998
Metropolitan Kirill considers that the church is free to invest in any programs based on the understanding of the financial wisdom and ethical propriety of such investments.
The discussion connected with the role of the church in contemporary life has not quieted down in Russian society. The mass media discuss the problem of church property and church economic activity. The government asks the opinion of church leaders about what is fitting to do with the royal remains. Parishioners are interested in why the divine liturgy is not translated into contemporary Russian. . . We put several of the most typical questions to the representative of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow patriarchate, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad.
--Has the church managed to achieve much by way of economic independence?
--I won't risk evaluating the economic situation in all 124 dioceses of the Russian Orthodox church. However in many of them an effective economic structure has developed which permits not only surviving in the present difficult time but also accumulating the means needed by the church for social service among those who need its charity and participation. In the first place it is possible to speak of book publishing, monastic activity in agriculture and food production, as well as manufacturing, especially of icons, candles, and liturgical objects. It seems that all of this cannot produce those fabulous incomes about which publications of a certain type so love to calculate.
--It has been claimed, for example, that the church owns a pretty good
portfolio of stocks in petroleum enterprises. . .
--No, it does not. However, being an economic actor with equality of rights, the church is free to invest in any programs based on the understanding of the financial wisdom and ethical propriety of such investments. Secular practice is like that. You greatly overestimate our modest role as a participant in the financial and economic process. The campaign to discredit the church in the person of its higher authorities which is being conducted by certain--fortunately extremely few--publications is primarily of political and ideological motivation. It procedes from those forces for whom the very existence of Russian Orthodoxy is somehow very dangerous. Behind these publications stand financial structures whose identity we do not know but which obviously are powerful. For example, in contrast to one of our most unreconcilable opponents, the newspaper Rus Pravoslavnaia, we are not able to afford publications which can be distributed without cost around the dioceses, monasteries, and church schools of Russia.
--Your attitude toward the new law on freedom of conscience?
--The law does not contain any articles prohibiting the profession of any religious cult. It does not contain any privileges for any specific confessions. In contrast to what is being claimed in the press, Catholicism, Lutheranism, Old Belief, and other confessions which have traditionally existed in Russia will be enjoying the very same rights that the Russian Orthodox church does. In the preamble of the law its special role is recognized, but this doesn't provide any kind of privileges. Newly emerging religious groups may receive the status of religious association and the rights of legal entity after a fifteen-year period of activity in Russia. The effect of this article is felt primarily by the religious confessions that are exotic for us. In this way Russia is protecting itself from the spread of pseudoreligious, totalitarian sects and its citizens from gas attacks in the subway and from human sacrifices. The process of separating the "sheep from the goats" among the new religious arrivals will not be the work of the Russian Orthodox church but state structures. The danger of the spread of totalitarian sects, incidentally, is well understood among our neighbors in the common European home: Denmark, Spain, Greece, and others, where the laws provide either governing status or preeminent rights for the traditional confessions. In the new Russian law the concept of a state religion is totally absent.
--One of the most painful problems of Russian Orthodoxy is the translation
of the divine liturgy into contemporary language.
--The church must preserve the faith which Christ delivered to the apostles; it must be understood by all people. Preservation of the faith presupposes the development of cultural forms of its transmission to the people. But any changes in the liturgical culture must be made cautiously and in the spirit of fraternal love and conciliarity.
--Is it possible to consider oneself an Orthodox Christian and not attend
--In former times Orthodox figured this way: "The one for whom the church is not mother does not have God for father." Such people deprive themselves of the blessing of the pastors of the church, established by the Savior, and the majority of the church sacraments are not available to them. In the end they are beyond the action of God's grace. It turns out that from the point of view of the Orthodox Christian, there is no salvation outside the church. But what is the eternal fate of those who do not belong to the Orthodox church, only the Lord knows for sure. (tr. by PDS)
Russian text: Vne tserkvi spaseniia net
(posted 6 June 1998)
CHRISTIAN PENETRATION OF TRADITIONALLY NONCHRISTIAN ETHNIC GROUP
by Oleg Khomushku, Radiotserkov
KYZYL, TUVA REPUBLIC, 4 June. Twenty-six religious associations are registered at the present time in Tuva. Of these, 14 are Buddhist, 2 shamanistic, and there is a Russian Orthodox church, an Old Believer society, and eight protestant congregations. The most influential in terms of its spread amongst the Tuvinian population appears to be the Tuva church of Christians of Evangelical Faith "Sun-Bok-Ym," which was founded in May 1995, and the religious society "Shynche oruk" (The Way to Truth). In these churches practically all the members are Tuvinians [an ethnic group of Mongol-related people whose language belongs to the Old Uigur group of Turkic languages--tr. note]. The "Christian" missionary society seems to be rather widespread, which is affiliated with the Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith. In the districts of Tuva there is a whole network of daughter associations of this denomination. A majority of members of the congregation are Tuvinian and more than half of them are youth. The traditional religions of the territory of Tuva are shamanism, Buddhism, and Orthodoxy. However, at the present time it is possible to speak of the growth of the influence of protestant associations in this republic. (tr. by PDS)
Russian text at Radiotserkov
(posted 5 June 1998)
ORTHODOX BOOK BURNING
by Andrei Zolotov Jr., staff writer
The Moscow Times, 3 June 1998
Russian Orthodox Church officials in the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg are locked in a drastic conflict with the 20th century. In a style befitting the Middle Ages, Bishop Nikon of Yekaterinburg last month ordered "heretical" books confiscated from students in an ecclesiastical school and publicly burned, a group of Orthodox intellectuals say. On the same day, a reformist priest, who refused to renounce the "dangerous and heretical delusions," was defrocked for life. What has further outraged critics is that the so-called heretical writings were works of leading 20th century Orthodox priests and theologians respected by Orthodox believers and Christian scholars worldwide: Alexander Schmemann, John Meyendorff and Alexander Men.
The events in Yekaterinburg exemplify a growing nationalist and obscurantist movement within the Russian Orthodox Church. It exerts considerable pressure on the hierarchy and is reflected in debates about relations with other Christian churches and the burial of the royal family's remains.
Although Men's theology has always been considered controversial, Schmemann and Meyendorff, who served as consecutive deans of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in New York, are recognized as luminaries of contemporary Orthodox theology. They sought Orthodox Christian responses to the challenges of the modern pluralistic society, and their books, smuggled into Russia, led many Russian intellectuals to the church. In the 1970s and early 1980s, Schmemann also preached regularly on Radio Liberty, and his recorded sermons are often referred to today.
On many occasions, Patriarch Alexy II has expressed his admiration for Schmemann and Meyendorff, whose books are studied in many seminaries and religious schools across Russia. But a modernist movement within the Russian Orthodox Church, led by now suspended Moscow priest Georgi Kochetkov, often refers to Schmemann, Meyendorff and Men as their leading lights, thus compromising them in the eyes of arch-conservatives.
Bishop Nikon denied the book burning. Witnesses have been unwilling to speak to the press, and liberal church members from Yekaterinburg have refused to speak on record. But some church officials in the city effectively confirmed the allegations, which are widely rumored in church circles both in Yekaterinburg and in Moscow. And one church member, Innokenti Grigoryev, sent a complaint to the Moscow Patriarchate, outlining the details.
The story was reported by a private television station in Yekaterinburg, Channel 10, and Moscow's Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper. The outrage came first from an informal group of Yekaterinburg's Christian intellectuals, called Vstrecha Enlightenment Center. They say a diocese council May 5 ordered priest not to recommend certain Christian literature to their parishioners. Later that day, a search was done in the dormitory of the school, and books by Schmemann, Meyendorff and Men were confiscated from future priests. Several volumes were burned in an iron box in the school's courtyard in front of students, said Andrei Sannikov, a Vstrecha member and journalist with Channel 10.
A dissident priest, Oleg Vokhmyanin, was also defrocked May 5. According to a copy of Bishop Nikon's decree, obtained by The Moscow Times, Vokhmyanin was punished for "commitment to latter-day teachings that reject the tradition of the holy fathers and do not have the approval of the plentitude of the Orthodox Church." He also was accused of "persistent refusal to help dethrone dangerous and heretical delusions."
Bishop Nikon refused to comment on the burning of the books. His spokesman, Boris Kosinsky, first said that he knew nothing about it, but went on to say that "it is the bishop's will and I cannot comment on it," thus effectively confirming that the order came from Nikon. Archpriest Nikolai Ladyuk, who Vstrecha says was present during the book burning, denied Tuesday that he was there and said books were not burned. But he confirmed that they were confiscated from students.
"Maybe, that's the way it should be done," Ladyuk said in a telephone interview. "Students are students. If they read bad books, nobody knows what will come out of it." He went on to complain about "various kinds of filth brought from the West."
It is unclear whether the Moscow Patriarchate will look into the events in Yekaterinburg. Archbishop Sergy, who is responsible for the Patriarchate's relations with its dioceses, said that he spoke to Bishop Nikon, who had told him that no burning took place.
"It is fantasy," Archbishop Sergy said. "I cannot imagine that such a savagery could take place."
Bishop Nikon, 38, whose lay name is Oleg Mironov, finished Moscow Theological Seminary by correspondence and has not yet completed his correspondence course at the Moscow Theological Academy. He is a follower of Metropolitan Mefody of Voronezh, who is known in church circles for his wealth, conservatism, tough administration and past connections to the KGB. Sannikov, the journalist and Vstrecha member, said Nikon is "very aggressive" in promoting his arch-conservative agenda in Yekaterinburg. Reports of the book burning generated a strong reaction from the Schmemann family.
The late theologian's son, Pulitzer Prize winning U.S. journalist Serge Schmemann, who spent many years in Russia as a New York Times correspondent, said in a telephone interview from Jerusalem that his father's work "inspired and encouraged" many believers in Soviet-era Russia, including Patriarch Alexy II, who often spoke of Father Schmemann as 'my great teacher.'" "Now to hear that a bishop of the church, now living in freedom, is capable of an act so repugnant and godless fills me with dismay and anger," Schmemann said.
Alexander Schmemann's widow, Juliana Schmemann, sent a letter to the Russian patriarch from her home in a New York suburb asking him to clarify the situation. "I am sure that most of the faithful in the Russian Orthodox Church, those who read his books and know his teachings, will be deeply troubled and shocked by the brutal burning of his books. But I firmly believe that sooner or later truth and fairness will prevail," she said in an interview.
from METAPHRASIS Religious News Service
AP story based on this story: Inquisitor priest
ENI story by same writer: "Intellectuals claim 'book-burning' dishonoured Russia's leading theologians"
(posted 5 June 1998)
BAPTISTS MADE VIRTUAL CRIMINALS
by Pavel Peichev, Radiotserkov
TASHKENT, 3 June. In May 1998 a new law regulating the activity of religious organizations entered into effect here. The draft of the law was not published and it was adopted with virtually no discussion. The administration of Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov tried to justify the harsh provisions of the law by the necessity for struggling against Islamic fundamentalism. However all the negative consequences occurring are more perceptible for evangelical churches.
The new law essentially restricts the sphere of the activity of churches. The most serious matter is the prohibition on citizens' changing their religious confession. This point of the law virtually makes it impossible for Christians of evangelical belief to conduct evangelism. The Bible Society of Uzbekistan officially was warned about the prohibition on importing Christian literature in Uzbek into the country.
The law does not contain a definition of missionary activity. Nevertheless punishment for carrying it out is provided. According to the new law churches and mosques are permitted only to conduct religious rituals. The new law does not even contain a stipulation that one of the goals of a religious organization is the spread of religion.
For registration, a religious organization must have no fewer than 100 signatures of its members. This point makes it impossible for a majority of churches outside of the boundaries of the capital of the republic to exist legally. The law provides for a sentence of deprivation of liberty for up to three years for participation in the activity of an unregistered religious association.
After the law came into effect inspections in all churches began. Special pressure was felt by churches and societies of evangelical Christians that include in their membership Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Tajiks, and Karakalpaks. It earlier had been reported that in the republic's prison colony of special regime, no. 25, a prayer house of Evanglical Christians was closed.
On 28-29 May a session of the Central Asian Unin of Evangelical Christians-Baptists was held. The union sent to Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov a statement in which it noted with regret that according to the new law Evangelical Christians-Baptists have virtually been transformed from law-abiding citizens to criminals. (tr. by PDS)
Russian text at Radiotserkov
English translation of law
(posted 4 June 1998)
Keston News Service: "Uzbek law on religions renders unregistered religious activity illegal"
ORTHODOX PRIEST BEATEN IN UKRAINE
Ukrainian Orthodox Church
KIEV, 4 June. The rector of the parish of the Ukrainian Orthodox church of the village of Grigorovko, Obukhhov district of Kiev region, Fr Alexander Vorona, was beaten near the village soviet by schismatic filaretites. The priest's cassock was ripped and his cross was torn off because he was trying to agree with representatives of the local government about the procedure for the return of the church that had earlier been taken from its rightful owners, UPTs believers, by schismatics. The decision regarding the transfer of the church was made in the spring of this year by an appeals court of the city of Kiev. The transfer of the church was supposed to take place on 9 June of this year. Fr Alexander Vorona submitted a statement about the beating to the agencies of internal affairs of Obukhov district. Judging from the schismatics' conduct, they are not about to return the church. (tr. by PDS)
Russian text at Ukrainian Orthodox Church
(posted 4 June 1998)
PEACE CONFERENCE NOT PEACEFUL
Ukrainian Orthodox Church
KIEV, 25 May. On the initiative of the state organization committee for preparation and celebration of the bimillennium of the birth of Christ in the year 2000 in Ukraine, the State Committee of Ukraine on Religious Affairs, the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, and the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine an All-Ukrainian Christian forum under the slogan "The harvest of justice is sown by deeds of peace" was held in the Great Conference Hall of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine on 20-21 May 1998. Ukrainian vice premier V.A. Smoly presided at the forum. Participants in the work of the forum included delegations consisted of fifteen persons each from the Ukrainian Orthodox church, the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox church, the Ukrainian Orthodox church--Kievan patriarchate, Roman Catholic church, the All-Ukrainian Union of Associated Evangelical Christians-Baptists, the All-Ukrainian Union of Churches of Christians of Evangelical Faith--Pentecostals, the Ukrainian United Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, the Transcarpathian Reformed church, the German Evangelical-Lutheran church, and the Armenian Apostolic church. The delegation of the Ukrainian Orthodox church was headed by the administrator of affairs of UPTs, Archbishop Ionafan of Sumi and Akhtyrka. The delegations included Bishop Sofrony of Cherkass and Kanev, Bishop Avgustin of Lviv and Drogobych, Bishop Gury of Zhitomir and Novograd-Volyn, Archpriest Nikolai Zabuga, rector of Kiev Ecclesiastical Academy and Seminary, and priests and laity of UPTs.
In the opinion of the organizers of the forum, the plenary session was to begin with joint prayer of all participants. However the delegatin of UPTs offically refused to take part in the "ecumenical" prayer along with schismatics and those who beleive differently. And when, despite the Orthodox protest, the head of the Kievan patriarchate (which is not recognized by anyone in the Orthodox world), the anathematized former monk Filaret Denisenko struck up the "Our Father," the head of the UPTs delegation, Archbishop Ionafan, left the presidium.
Upon completion of the work of the forum there was not attempt at joint prayer. Considering that at the recent pan-Orthodox conference at Thessaloniki on the question of the need for Orthodox churches to participate in the work of the World Council of Churches representatives of the local churches were unanimous in saying that delegations with the right of observers should be sent to the upcoming session of WCC but they should not participate in joint prayers, one can suggest that in the near future the question of the usefulness of participation by UPTs not only in the work of such forums but also in the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations should be raised. (tr. by PDS)
Russian text at Ukrainian Orthodox Church
(posted 4 June 1998)
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