Natalia Ivanovna, a resident of Novosibirsk, was not able to delight in her children. She raised them alone. Then some young people who were full of love appeared and were ready to console her with words and to help with chores. Her son quickly found a bride. Grandchildren were born. Such happiness! "But after several years the son began avoiding me," Natalia Ivanovna says. "A nightmare began. Once I found my son and his wife naked in front of their children. They were teaching the kids sex. The wife had slept with new members of the sect, seducing the 'lost' sheep. The booklets of the sect advocated unrestrained sex and self-indulgence, and stated that adultery is no more. It was as if I were drinking poison. . . ." Soon the son moved to another city with a "priestess."
According to data of the Center for Religious Studies Research, around 800,000 Russians are members of totalitarian sects and cults, of which there are up to 100. People go out of their minds and shed blood. However sects do not squeeze only souls but also the pocketbooks of our fellow citizens, pumping enormous sums out of them. Leaders of sects are not doing a bad business. How do the sects get their money and what do they own? "AiF" made a special study of this.
"The Family" is one of the most odious sects. And it was this sect of which the children of Natalia Ivanovna whom we talked about above became victims. Its founder, the American David Berg, demanded that women entice men into bed and, by seduction convince them to join the sect. If they refuse then the teacher told them to get money. In USA members of this sect have been convicted in court of corruption of their own children. In Russia "The Family" has 2,000-3,000 followers.
The sect spread primarily in Siberia, to a large extent thanks to the American humanitarian program Project Aid Siberia (PAS). "Since 1992 tons of food and medicines worth more than one million dollars have come to Russia through PAS, some of which "The Family" distributed," says Alexander Novopashin, an expert on religious organizations and archpriest of the church of Alexander Nevsky in Novosibirsk.
"Jehovah's Witnesses" have almost 140,000 members. They develop their empire by distributing propagandistic magazines. Members of the sect buy editions at the church for 40 to 60 rubles an issue--this is their voluntary contribution for the common work--and they distribute them to people. Thanks to this Jehovah's Witnesses avoid taxes since contributions are not subject to tax.
"Larisa began attending 'Jehovah's Witnesses' and learned that soon the 'recompense for sins' (Judgment Day) would come and children will perish before the eyes of their parents," says Fedor Kondratiev, a professor of the Serbsky State Scientific Center of Social and Forensic Psychiatry. "Then she decided to hang herself and her son. The attempt did not succeed and the woman wound up in a psychiatric clinic. But in that place she continued to gather patients around herself and proclaim her teaching. After three years, during a visitation, she again attempted to strangle her son."
Yet another woman "Witness" was convicted of murdering her grandson, whom she thought had been "possessed by demons."
The Church of Scientology of Ron Hubbard (5,000-7,000 members) teaches people to control their consciousness, and thanks to this to achieve success in life. The basic approach to this is through so-called courses of personal growth. Classes of the first level cost 1,500 to 2,000 rubles, and then the price rises. There is not enough time in life to go through all the levels. But this is still not all. Even at the beginning stages of "growth" it is required to purchase an "audit," a kind of confession, for 40,000 rubles.
The smoothest fashion of Scientologists is to "teach" bureaucrats and businessmen administrative skills (the same stuff, but with elements of business theory). Its "benefits" are no laughing matter. In February the head of Skovorodinsk district in Amur province, Boris Shalimov, was arrested for embezzlement of budgetary funds. As "AiF" was told in the Amur provincial prosecutor's office, 646,000 rubles from the budget (salaries of teachers and physicians) were spent for Scientology courses; the case is under investigation. Scientology has penetrated even into state enterprises. "In the Urals Optical Mechanical factory a whole shop was turned over to it along with admittance (the factory produces navigational equipment for military airplanes, specifically the MIG-29)," says Alexander Dvorkin, president of the Center for Religious Studies Research. And the former director of the Moscow "Moven" ventilation factory, Alexander Mironov (an open scientologist) practically ruined the factory, spending around 800 million rubles for classes for employees.
The stronghold of Russian scientologists is located in Nizhny Novgorod, where they own the "Zemliane" holding company, which comprises half a dozen enterprises. In the opinion of experts, Hubbardists make about fifty million dollars a year in Russia.
The Church of the Mother of God of Sovereignty (3,000 members) has valuable property around Moscow. This church is best known for the way its adepts beg alms from passers-by dressed as Orthodox monks.
"In 2001 the Magnitogorsk Metallurgy Combine decided to provide charitable aid to the church and it shipped a train car with roofing iron for 'constructing the St. Alexis cloister.' The head of the cloister, Rostislav Kleimenov ("Father" Nikolai), sold the shipment on the black market and bought a foreign-made care for himself," says Oleg Bogomolkin, the former director of the judicial department of the sect. "A criminal case was initiated in the Dmitrovsk department of internal affairs." The cloister itself was built in the "Ostankino" state farm on the grounds of a pig farm and is allotted to people who turn over their apartments for the church's use. "For the right to live in a module of a remodelled pig farm my son and his pregnant wife and three children paid 5,000 dollars. This was money from the sale of their apartment in Belorussia," cries the mother Evgeniia Penkovskaia. "He is not registered. He will have no pension and his children have been left without education. The supervisors even forbid them to go to physicians." Penkovsky is not unique. Several other parishioners who sold their dwellings donated to the church 31,000 dollars. "And the leadership of the sect has built for itself mansions with this money," Bogomolkin continues. "The head, 'Father' Ioann, lives in an enormous three-story cottage of 750 square meters in the prestigious settlement of Veshki. A house there costs around one million dollars, and there are more than thirty servants in the house. Ioann rides in three vehicles, two Mercedes and a BMW. Other 'fathers' live more modestly: only two-stories in the houses and only one foreign car."
The sect of Moon has 3,000-5,000 members. This Korean sect is known in Russia under the name "Unification Church." Its slogan is "Peace in all the world."
The peak of the power of Moon in Russia came in the 1990s. "Their interests were promoted in the Ministry of Education by the deputy minister Asmolov, and in the Ministry of Internal Affairs by the head of the Chief Directorate for Punishment, Dolgikh," says the former vice-president of the council of "Unification Church" in Russia, Lev Semenov, who now is an Orthodox priest in Tver. "All of this permitted them to conduct active evangelism in schools, institutes, and children's penal colonies. The head of the church, Sun Myun Moon, was even awarded a half-hour conversation with President Gorbachev."
In the mid-90s Moonites planned to invest 500,000 dollars in business in Russia. They wanted to buy the "Russian Video" company and they conducted negotiations with V. Gusinsky to obtain media personnel, and intended to set up production of jewelry. However because of political difficulties such massive business in Russia did not come off. Although in USA the Moon sect owns a weapons factory that produces Thompson automatics and the Cahr Arms factory, which produces plastic pistols, an ideal weapon for terrorists; metal detectors do not respond to plastic. In Korea it owns the manufacturing giant "Tong Il." And everywhere the followers of Moon are working for a bowl of cabbage soup and a hunk of bread. And in Russia they go about begging, selling for enormous prices postcards and soccer shirts. Many members of the sect have abandoned their studies, work, and relatives.
According to data of Serbsky Professor Fedor Kondratiev, in Russia the sects have destroyed at least 250,000 families.
P.S. In collecting this material, "AiF" did not intend to offend believers. We simply tried to open people's eyes to what the leadership of sects have done. (tr. by PDS, posted 12 August 2004)
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The "Smolenskie gubernskie vedomosti" (No. 30, 27 July-2 August) published an article by V. Solodchuk "Baptists occupy Desnogorsk," which described the situation around the "Word of Christ" church of Evangelical Christians-Baptists, which has existed in Desnogorsk more than ten years. The church is engaged in charitable activity, providing help to the "Solnyshko" children's home and a hospital school, and arranging free lunches for the needy.
"Smolenskie gubernskie vedomosti" sees in this a reason for anxiety. First, while arranging lunches for children, the Baptists have not submitted "documents required for arranging children's feeding," while, as "one old Baptist woman said, it is possible to eat poisonous mushrooms." Second, Baptists often leave the children without supervision outside of the city and some time back a certain representative of the "Word of Christ" church left at his house three minors for a night without informing their parents.
In addition, according to information of the publication, Baptists conducted preaching and prayers in a general education school, forcing children to remove their baptismal crosses and forbidding them to cross themselves. The director of the school was not able to comment on the situation.
Representatives of the Russian Orthodox church sent letters in connection with the situation that has developed to Desnogorsk Mayor Mikhail Khobotov and the head of the Department for Science, Education, and Youth Policy of the province, Sergei Zakharenkov.
The position of the editors with regard to missionary activity in general should be noted. The newspaper acknowledges that foreign preachers have the right to carry on their activity in Russia and that this does not violate the federal law "On freedom of conscience and religious associations" and the provincial law "On missionary activity on the territory of Smolensk province." However, such activity in Russia, in the opinion of the publication, may be conducted only by "enticing" adherents of other confessions, that is, Orthodox believers, since these constitute around 85 percent in Russia. Thus this seems to the newspaper to be an abnormal situation, in which eight religious associations are preaching "a faith alternative to Orthodoxy" to 35,000 residents of Desnogorsk. (tr. by PDS, posted 11 August 2004)
ATTEMPTED ARSON OF BAPTIST HOUSE OF WORSHIP IN IZHEVSK
Sedmitsa.ru, 11 August 2004
A blaze that broke out at the beginning of August in the "Resurrection" house of worship of the church of Evangelical Christians-Baptists of Russia on Litvinov Street in Izhevsk was labeled arson. The "resurrection" church comprises around 100 parishioners.
Evidence confirms the theory of arson; a bottle with flammable liquid was found next to the building.
The fire damaged a window frame of the two-story wooden building. In sum, unknown persons tried to throw a bottle through a window into the premises, but the sash prevented this. Firefighting crews quickly extinguished the blaze, Blagovest-info reports, citing the press service of the Udmurt republic. (tr. by PDS, posted 11 August 2004)
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Pope of Rome John Paul II sent a special letter to young Catholics of Russia who gathered on 11 August in Irkutsk for a planning meeting for the 20th World Day of Catholic Youth, which will be celebrated in August 2005 in the German city of Koln, RIA Novosti reports.
"This meeting represents an important moment in the life of the church of the Russian federation, a church which knew so many tribulations in the past and often was persecuted and tormented all the way to bloodshed, but which remained faithful to Christ in the confession of the eternal truths of the faith. In this confession Catholic, Orthodox, and protestants stood together. Their testimony became a common heritage for all of us," the papal letter says, the text of which was made public on Wednesday by the Holy See.
The Roman pope stressed that the Roman Catholic church places great hopes on youth and expects from it enthusiasm and new energy for its mission and at the same time it listens to questions pertaining to the meaning of life that interest young people so much.
In this regard the pontiff quoted in his letter the words of Fedor Dostoevsky, who wrote to his brother Mikhail:: "Man is a mystery. A mystery that must be solved, and if you spend your whole life in the attempt to solve it, do not say that you wasted time. I study this mystery because I want to be a man."
John Paul II called young Catholics of Russia "to preserve and offer with courageous consistency the priceless treasure of Christian tradition that is enriched by the blood of martyrs."
"Dear young people! You must resist the temptation that is today so refined and deadly to leave God outside the bounds of your life or to reduce the faith to episodic and formal gestures. The church needs witnesses who are ready to follow Christ all the way to the cross," the papal letter says.
"It is such a radical faithfulness to the gospel that now more than ever your contemporaries expect, who often are drawn by the mirage of the easy and comfortable life, the temptations of drugs, and hedonism, who often are enslaved by violence, meaninglessness, and despair. Do not permit the freedom that was won in your dear motherland at the price of enormous sacrifices and sufferings to be lost by a departure toward false ideals," the pope stressed. (tr. by PDS, posted 11 August 2004)
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A press conference devoted to the conflict over the church of the Resurrection of Christ in Kadashi was held on 10 August by representatives of the parish of the church. Participants in the press conference included Mikhail Voronin, Vitaly Verenchuk, Vladimir Solomonov, Pavel Satleikin, and the director of the "Sozidanie" social and cultural fund for the protection of monuments and cultural objects, Liudmila Melikova, who is a parishioner of the church in Kadashi. At the press conference, in particular, was announced the opening of the Internet site of the church of the Resurrection of Christ in Kadashi, on which all materials connected with the situations concerning the parish, as well as a chronicle of events, will be published (www.kadashi.ru}.
The emcee of the press conference, a representative of the parish, Vasily Boiko, stated in his speech that for the Grabar All-Russian Artistic Scientific Restoration Center (VKhNRTs) the conflict is of a "purely commercial nature." He said that there is no doubt that "the basic flow of orders from the restorers was commercial and not governmental." Vasily Boiko said that believers, who worshipped in a reconstructed carriage house on the grounds of the church "saw a flood of private customers."
Parishioners have based their actions on the necessity of halting the destruction of a unique monument of architecture which, in their opinion, is occurring as the result of the activity of the restorers and also because "not a kopeck has been spent on repair of the building, beginning in 1964." Documents regarding the performance of repair work, which reporters mentioned at the press conference, are considered by believers to be obviously false.
According to the information of an attorney for the parish, Mikhail Voronin, at the present time more than 140 suits over the return of houses of worship to believers have been filed in Russia, not only from Orthodox parishes but also from Muslims and Buddhists. According to the Russian constitution, the 1997 law "On freedom of conscience and religious associations," and an order of the government of Moscow of 7 December 2000, property of religious societies that was nationalized in 1918 is supposed to be returned to believers. "Agencies of state authority must respond to the question that has been raised by events and fulfill the responsibilities they have assumed," the attorney declared.
He said that 20,000 parishes registered in the country had sent a petition to the government of the Russian federation on the subject of the return of basic houses of worship. "But they have met practically nothing other than cynicism. The actual period of review of such appeals has been five to ten years, while the government is required to respond to petitions from religious organizations within two months," M. Voronin said. The director of the "Soglasie" fund, Liudmila Melikova, noted that in Moscow alone thirty Orthodox parishes are in a similar situation.
"The right of ownership is a central human right; only animals cannot own property; consequently, the church has been lowered by the state to animal status, since even church benches belong to the state," Mikhail Voronin declared. The attorney is convinced that it is necessary to fight not for the "right of use," but for the "right of ownership of parishes." "Then we will be able to actively recruit investments for restoration," he thinks.
Pavel Satleikin called the news media not to "blow up an economic dispute to the level of a conflict between the church and society." Attorney Vladimir Solomov also spoke about the responsibility of reporters; in his opinion, statements of some of them, in particular, correspondents of "Echo of Moscow" radio, could become the basis for an assault by OMON and "possible bloodshed on the grounds of the church."
As regards specific suggestions for resolution of the controversial situation, parishioners expressed their readiness for "months-long gradual transfer of the treasures." To the question of where the things would be transferred to, a representative of the AREMZ-1 holding company, Anna Suchkova, responded that in the name of the leadership of the company she proposed that the restorers rent premises of 500 square meters in area on Volnaia Street, near the Semenovskaia subway station, about which the leadership of VKhNRTs has already been informed, but they still have not reacted, "Sedmitsa.ru" reports, citing RIA Novosti and "Blagovest-info." (tr. by PDS, posted 11 August 2004)
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Around 1,000 young people belonging to the Church of Christian Adventists of the Seventh-Day, came together in the village of Zaokskii, where the spiritual center of this religious society on the territory of the former USSR is located. Here, on the campus of the ecclesiastical academy, where pastors of the church are trained, a congress of Adventist youth from CIS countries opened today, organized by the Euro-Asian department of the church, ITAR-TASS reports.
The goal of the congress is to stimulate participation of young Adventists in missionary activity and the increase the effectiveness of their work. The congress will continue to the end of the week.
The Church of Christian Adventists of the Seventh-day (TsKhASD) in Russia is a part of the Euro-Asian department of the World Church of Adventists. The members of this division include also the Belorussian Association of Locan TsKhASD, the Moldavian Union of TsKsASD, the Southern Union (five Central Asian CIS countries) and the Transcaucasian Mission (countries of Transcaucasia). (tr. by PDS, posted 11 August 2004)
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