Antievangelism law goes to court


One step from surveillance to informing

by Nina Zagrebina

Advokatskii Kabinet, 7 August 2016


Not ten days had passed from the moment of the adoption of the notorious "Yarovaya" draft law when its fruits did not restrain themselves to wait long. Poisonous fast-ripening apples matured.


Having seen a lot in my law practice, I am used to not being particularly surprised. But this story still shattered my famous lawyer's calm. And the times of dekulakization, marked by spying on neighbors and informing and extremely unpleasant consequences, are already long gone. And the "feat" of Pavlik Morozov, the soviet school kid who, out of idealistic motives, informed the authorities on his father, would seem to have remained far in the past.


Indeed it is evident that genetic memory applies, spitting out remnants of the past.


And so, on 23 July 2016, at 1:00 p.m., a young, temporarily unemployed lawyer, Rashid Zitliauzhev, a resident of the city of Cherkessk, was strolling about his home town and caught sight of two young fellows of Slavic appearance conversing with one of the passersby on religious topics. Being extremely interested in what was happening, he started to observe them. Then, apparently recalling the acts of detective heroes from numerous serials, he decided to apply to the case his own skills and technical abilities and he began secretly photographing on his telephone the peacefully conversing citizens who suspected nothing. But what is a "detective" without a personal association with a "gang"! Some time later Rashid became bolder and he approached them himself and joined the conversation. The conversation turned out to be interesting and lively and soon all participants parted from one another warmly, like old, good friends. After saying goodbye to his new friends, our "detective" left with a book of religious contents they had given to him. And in the evening he began studying religious doctrines.


On 27 July 2016, the MVD for the Karachay-Cherkess republic received a report about violation of the law. In it Mr. Zitliauzhev, with whom we are already acquainted, using the skills he received during study at law school, described for personnel of the law enforcement agencies how he: "learned from the Internet that distribution of religious literature may be done only is specially designated areas" and he asked that the unidentified person be brought to administrative accountability, inspiring the agents from the Center for Combating Extremism for the Karachay-Cherkess republic to apply the new provisions of the law.


To the report were attached photographs of the "perpetrator," secretly made by our spy on the site.


After that everything was like with Marshak: "Firefighters search, police search, they seek photographs in our capital, they search for a long time, but they cannot find the fellow for some twenty years. . . ."


To be sure it is necessary to give their due to police personnel who quickly found him in the capital of the Karachay-Cherkess republic.


On 28 July 2016, the twenty-five-year-old "perpetrator," Vadim Sibirev, was "caught." Despite the fact that the young man rather skillfully insisted on his constitutional rights and reported that he was not a representative of any religious association and he was not recruiting anybody anywhere, the agencies were adamant. As a result they turned out to be the first who applied article 5.26 of the Code on Administrative Violations of Law of the RF against a citizen who was exercising his constitutional right to freedom of religious confession.


The case was turned over to the court. The first court session was scheduled for 2 August 2016, but the believer turned out to be so versed in legal questions that he insisted on his right to have a defense attorney, as a result of which the case was postponed to 4 August.


On 4 August, our colleague, the famous attorney and rights advocate Mikhail Frolov, arrived in Cherkessk. During the judicial proceedings a petition was made to summon the author of the indictment to the court. The city is small, everything is nearby and everyone known everyone, and therefore the witness (an officer, major, of the Center for Combating Extremism for Karachay-Cherkess republic) was in the court within an hour.


To the question by the defense attorney: "Which rule of the law forbids citizens to distribute religious literature?" the major cited point 2 of article 24.1 of the federal law "On freedom of conscience and religious organizations." At the same time he pointed out that "missionary activity may be conducted unhindered only in places designated in point 2 of article 24.1 (referring to worship buildings and adjoining territory, rented buildings and land, places of pilgrimage, and cemeteries and crematoria), while in the rest, including public places, it cannot be conducted, since the law does not provide for this." The famous legal doctrine: "What is not prohibited is permitted" turns out to be "outside the law."


Meanwhile, the judge, having heard both sides, did not want to be hasty in issuing a decision and postponed the trial to 8 August. Which gives hope for the restoration of the constitutional right to freedom of religious confession that was violated.


However, even with a positive outcome of this case, the first fruits of the notorious innovations have made an impression, and there remain serious concerns about subsequent practice in the implementation of the "anti-missionary" amendments. Given the low threshold of legal and religious studies literacy on the part of police personnel in the regions, it is possible to expect some rather curious cases. However believers themselves are now not permitted the luxury of remaining in legal ignorance and it is certainly necessary to raise the level of legal literacy, including having elementary skills of legal defense. As they say, you have only yourself to blame. (tr. by PDS, posted 11 August 2016)



SOVA Center for News and Information, 11 August 2016


In Karachay-Cherkessia an administrative case was opened against a Krishnaite [i.e., follower of the Society of Krishna Consciousness—tr.] who distributed religious literature to passersby on the street.


On 27 July 2016 a resident of Cherkessk, Rashid Zitliauzhev, sent to the republican internal affairs ministry a request to hold administratively accountable a Krishnaite who was talking about his faith and giving out religious literature to two passersby with whom the declarer became acquainted several days earlier.


A case was opened against 25-year-old Vadim Sibirev on the basis of article 5.26 of the Code of Administrative Violations of Law of the RF (violation of the legislation on freedom of conscience, freedom of religious confession and religious associations). Despite the fact that the believer is not a representative of any religious association and was not trying to involve other persons in such an association, the representative of the Center for Combating Extremism, citing point 2 of article 24.1 of the law "On freedom of conscience and religious associations," maintained that missionary activity is permitted only in houses of worship and territory adjacent to them, in buildings and lands rented by religious associations, in places of pilgrimage, and in cemeteries and crematoria, and conduct of such activity is not provided for in other places.


Consideration of the case began in court on 4 August.


We recall, amendments limiting missionary activity were signed by the president in July 2016 as part of the package of bills by Yarovaya and Ozerov, and they evoked protests by religious organizations, lawyers, and rights advocates. (tr. by PDS, posted 11 August 2016)

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Editorial disclaimer: RRN does not intend to certify the accuracy of information presented in articles. RRN simply intends to certify the accuracy of the English translation of the contents of the articles as they appeared in news media of countries of the former USSR.

If material is quoted, please give credit to the publication from which it came. It is not necessary to credit this Web page. If material is transmitted electronically, please include reference to the URL,