Religion News Current News Items
protest Ministry of Justice council
APPEAL OF PASTORS' COUNCIL OF FELLOWSHIP OF EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN
CHURCHES OF CITY OF TOGLIATTI
26 May 2009
To director of Institute of Religion and Law,
Esteemed Roman Nikoklaevich
The pastors' council of the Fellowship of Evangelical Christian
Churches of the city of Togliatti, Samara province, expresses its
support for the Russia-wide "No to Inquisitors" action.
We live in a law-based, democratic state. And every citizen of our
country is guaranteed by the constitution of the Russian federation
rights and freedoms. The activity of religious organizations is
regulated by the legislation of our country and particularly by the
federal law of 26 September 1997 "On freedom of conscience and
Today it is obvious to everybody that the expert council that was
created within the Ministry of Justice of RF, which is represented by
thoroughly incompetent specialists, and the expansion of the authority
of this council is a violation of the constitution of RF, the federal
law of 26 September 1997 "On freedom of conscience and religious
associations," and of a number of international agreements of RF, and
it infringes the rights of citizens in the sphere of freedom of
conscience and religious confession.
In addition, it is completely absurd that the person elected the head
of the expert council is the repulsive A. Dvorkin, whose boisterous
activity is clearly intended to incite religious strife, which violates
the constitution of RF, article 29, and consequently represents a
threat to the national security of RF.
We are law-abiding citizens of RF. We care about the fate of our
country and our people. In addition, we are concerned for our families
and the families of the people who constitute our churches.
We also cannot ignore historical experience which shows that "violation
of human rights and basic freedoms, especially the rights to freedom of
thought, conscience, religion or convictions of any kind, are the
direct or indirect cause of wars and terrible suffering of humanity,
especially when they serve as the means of foreign interference in the
internal affairs of other states and lead to incitement of hatred
between nations and states" ("Declaration on the liquidation of all
forms of intolerance and discrimination on the basis of religion or
The system of agencies of governmental authority of RF has been built
on the foundation of the principle of the separation of powers,
established by article 10 of the constitution of RF. The Ministry of
Justice, representing the executive branch, by order of the Ministry of
Justice of RF No. 53 of 18 February 2009 exceeded its authority,
usurping the functions of the legislative branch.
In addition, federal law No. 79 of 27 July 2004 "On state civil service
of RF" establishes:
a. the obligation for all state civil servants; to wit, overseeing and
guaranteeing the implementation of the constitution of RF, federal
constitutional laws, federal laws, and other regulatory legal acts of
component elements of RF. . . .
b. prohibitions connected with civil service.
13. Prohibition of the use of official authority in the interests
of political parties, other public associations, religious associations
or other organizations, as well as the public expression of attitudes
toward said associations and organizations in the capacity of a civil
servant, connected with the depoliticizing of civil service.
The constitution of RF, recognizing the ideological and political
diversity and multiparty system in the Russian federation, stipulates
that in the Russian federation no kind of ideology can be established
in the capacity of a state and obligatory ideology and public
associations are equal before the law (article 13).
Consequently, participation in the capacity of a civil servant in
activity of political parties and public associations, if this affects
their governmental activity, is incompatible with the duties of civil
service. Tasks conducted by civil servants require from them the
appearance of neutrality, competence, and impartiality. Government
servants are required to be guided in their activity exclusively by the
legislation and should not be connected with the decisions of parties,
political movements, and other public associations.
The civil servant is forbidden to use his office in the interests of
religious associations or to express publicly his attitude toward them.
This means that the civil servant does not have the right to engage in
propaganda with regard to one or another religion.
The constitution of RF established that the Russian federation is a
secular state. No religion may be set up in the capacity of a state or
obligatory religion and religious associations are separated from the
state and equal before the law (article 14), and thus civil servants do
not have the right to interfere in their activity or create privileges
for any one of them.
14. In their turn, religious associations may not be a
substantial official part of state agencies or take official part in
their activity. Civil servants have the right to participate
voluntarily in religious ceremonies as citizens of the Russian
federation, but not as representatives of the government or state
agencies. (Commentary on the federal law "On state civil service
of RF" of 27 July 2004)
The actions of Minister of Justice Alexander Konovalov clearly
demonstrate evident preference for the Russian Orthodox church, which
is impermissible for a person in the state civil service of RF.
On the basis of what is said above we request that you include our
signatures and signatures of members of our congregations in support of
the "No to inquisitors" action.
Appendix: forms with the signatures of members of congregations
in support of the action, 25 pages, 547 believers.
The Pastors' Council of the Fellowship of Evangelical Christian
Churches of the city of Togliatti:
President, V.N. Zozulia, pastor of "Christian" Togliatti Pentecostal
V.V. Paklin, pastor of "Christian Mission of Mercy" church;
A.S. Anisimov, pastor of "Togliatti Christian Center";
S.N. Sukhov, pastor of "Tabernacle of Faith";
I.V. Semenets, pastor of "Sacrifice of Faith" church;
V.A. Nikonov, pastor of "New Life" church;
A.A. Tovmasian, pastor of Armenian "Ark of God" church;
V.V. Kazakov, pastor of "Flame of God" church
(tr. by PDS, posted 26 May 2009)
Russian original posted on site of Slavic Legal
Center, 26 May 2009
Religion News Current News Items
Antisectarian conference in St. Petersburg
SECT-WARRIOR ALEXANDER DVORKIN BECOMES "FECRIS" VP.
nationalnykh novostei, 20 May 2009
The leading Russian sect scholar, professor, director of "Center of
Religious Studies Research" and "Russian Association of Centers for the
Study of Religions and Sects," and chairman of the Council for
Conducting State Religious Studies Expert Analyses of the Ministry of
Justice of RF, Alexander Dvorkin, was elected vice president of the
"European Federation of Research Centers for Information about Sects"
This was the result of the annual conference of the organization which
was held 15-17 May in St. Petersburg. FECRIS itself was organized
fifteen years ago and is the official consultant of the Council of
Europe on matters of totalitarian sects. Members of the organization
have gathered annually for their conferences. Previous ones have been
held, for example, in Vienna, Barcelona, Brussels, and Hamburg. Now the
honor of conducting FECRIS conferences has been handed for the first
time to Russia. It is symbolic that the place for the forum was the Law
Faculty of St. Petersburg State University, where Prime Minister
Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev studied.
Sectarians and their supporters tried by all means possible to prevent
the holding of the event, especially after they learned that Russian
minister of Justice Alexander Konovalov would attend. Thus the "Slavic
Legal Center," which already is well known for its activity in defense
of nontraditional cults, and the tiny "Institute of Religion and Law,"
which occupies the center's premises and was just registered in March
as a "private scientific research institution," began whipping up
hysteria, declaring that the conference signifies an attack on
"believers' rights" and the minister's presence there is virtually a
crime against the constitutional structure.
Nevertheless, St. Petersburg authorities did not permit sectarians and
their supporters to conduct a protest demonstration at the entrance to
the university. Thus the event's participants were met by only one
picketer (according to reports not fully sane) running occasionally
past the entrance, hastily distributing leaflets, at times representing
the Falun Gong totalitarian cult and at others Scientology.
The international academic conference titled "Totalitarian Sects and
the Human Right to Secure Existence" had twenty lecturers and about 100
participants. The countries that had citizens attending the event
included Russia, Belorussia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Ukraine, Serbia,
Croatia, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Greece, Cyprus, Austria, Germany,
Switzerland, Italy, Great Britain, France, Belgium, Sweden, and USA.
Its importance was signaled by the fact that the presidium of the
conference included the honorary president of the Association of
Nongovernmental Organizations of the Council of Europe, Anneliza
Oshger, and all attendees were greeted by the rector of the St.
Petersburg State University, Nikolai Kropachev. A heavy working
schedule prevented Minister of Justice Alexander Konovalov from
attending the opening of the conference and greetings in his name were
delivered by the head of the Department for Affairs of Noncommercial
Organizations of the Ministry of Justice of RF, Sergei Milushkin. There
also was a report from Deputy Minister of Justice Alexei Velichko
titled "Possibilities for coordination of European and Russian
experience in resisting totalitarian sects." Alexander Konovalov
himself arrived on the second day of the even and held an hour-long
meeting with the FECRIS leadership. Besides Alexander Dvorkin and
prominent bureaucrats, our country was represented at the conference by
members of the Council for Conducting State Religious Expert Analysis
of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation Alexander Kusmin,
who delivered a report titled "The threat to Russian state security on
the part of neo-Pentecostal totalitarian sects," and Evgeny Mukhtarov,
who delivered a report titled "How totalitarian sects exploit
nongovernmental organizations and public events for advertisement and
persuasion." Simultaneous translations of the reports were made into
four languages and illustrative materials were displaying on two
All of the speakers were united on the main point: governments of
various countries must devote great attention not only to the struggle
against totalitarian sects but also to preventive measures against
their development. For now France is leading on this matter, where a
law on sects has been adopted, whose implementation is overseen by a
special inter-ministerial commission. In addition, in Belgium
totalitarian cults regularly receive "slaps on the wrists;" this was
described by a representative of the country's Ministry of Justice,
Christof Kaliman. However, even in Slovakia things are pretty good; a
bureau for monitoring activity of sects operates immediately under the
government of this country. Conference attendees viewed the film "The
mission of Scientology," prepared by the "Mattias" company and also an
impressive video showing what happens at meetings of the
neo-Pentecostals of the Riga totalitarian sect "New Generation," whose
leader, Alexei Lediaev, was denied entrance onto Russian territory.
On 17 May the General Assembly of FECRIS was held. Its participants
noted that the organization has developed steadily under the leadership
of Friedrich Griss of Austria. But it is becoming more difficult for
the 77-year-old to bear the burden of day-to-day work. Thus the
election of a new FECRIS president was conducted. He is Sir Thomas
Geoffrey Sackville, a graduate of Oxford University and former first
deputy minister of internal affairs of Great Britain; and Alexander
Dvorkin assumed the post of vice-president of the organization.
"I consider this as great confidence shown not only toward me but also
toward my Russian colleagues," Alexander Dvorkin told the Agency of
National News on Wednesday. "Participation of a representative of
Russia in the leadership of the organization, which is an official
consultant of the Council of Europe, raises the status of our country
and clearly demonstrates its intention to combat generally the
violations of human rights in criminal communities, including their
manifestations in the form of totalitarian sects." (tr. by PDS, posted
22 May 2009)
RUSSIAN MINISTER OF JUSTICE CONDUCTS CLOSED MEETING WITH REDICAL SECT
22 May 2009
Russian Minister of Justice Alexander Konovalov held a closed meeting
in Petersburg with radical "sect scholars" and the leadership of the
"European Federation of Research Centers for Information about Sects"
(FECRIS). The meeting was held at the time of an "antisectarian"
conference titled "Totalitarian sects and the human right to secure
existence," which was held in St. Petersburg 15-16 May, the Slavic
Legal Center reports, citing ANN.
As the "Agency of National News" (ANN) notes, a heavy work schedule
prevented Minister of Justice Alexander Konovalov from arriving for the
opening of the conference and greetings to the participants in his name
were read by the head of the Department for Affairs on Noncommercial
Orgnizations of the Ministry of Justice of RF, Sergei Milushkin. There
also was heard a report by Deputy Minister of Justice Alexei Velichko,
"Possibilities for coordination of European and Russian experience in
combating totalitarian sects." Alexander Konovalov himself arrived for
the second day of the event and held an hour-long meeting with the
leadership of FECRIS. . . .
It had previously been reported that during the conference, which was
picketed by advocates for the preservation of the secular state in
Russia, radical Orthodox "sect scholars" and members of the council of
the Ministry of Justice of RF stated that the Ministry of Justice will
not permit the registration of religious organizations that have not
collected adequate information about themselves with the aid of the
council that comprises fighters against "sects," the Council for
Conducting State Religious Expert Analysis of the Ministry of Justice
of RF, headed by "sect scholar" Alexander Dvorkin.
Dvorkin, the primary organizer of the antisectarian conference
"Totalitarian sects and the human right to secure existence," called
for the development of a "precise legislative mechanism" for the
struggle against "sects." (tr. by PDS, posted 22 May 2009)
AUDIENCE CONCERNED FOR HEALTH OF SPEAKERS.
Impressions of an eye-witness attending "antisectarian" conference in
By Mikhail Bogdanov
Baznica.info, 20 May 2009
According to the announcement, the conference in St. Petersburg was
supposed to be a a model of respect for individual civil rights, but in
fact it turned out to be closed; not everyone who wished, and not even
representatives of news media, were able to gain access inside.
In effect, the conference was conducted in the closed manner of
sectarianism. All around the building of the Law Faculty of St.
Petersburg State University were stationed agents of GIBDD, MVD, and
FSB. It was impossible for an ordinary person to reach the building, to
say nothing of attending the conference itself. Entry was permitted in
strict accordance with a specific list and if a person who wished to
attend the conference was not found on the list, he simply was shown
the exit. They did not even permit entry to several TV stations.
All of our attempts to gain accreditation from TBN television for the
antisectarian conference also were not crowned with success. One might
conclude that such extraordinary measures of precaution were evoked by
some unprecedented action of totalitarian sects in Petersburg and by
fear that the angry sectarians would break into the hall with machine
guns. This was a complete delusion. No such activity was observed in or
near the northern capital. Everything was calm. And manifestations of
violence have been connected in the past with phenomena of the neo-Nazi
attitudes of a certain portion of the youth. And they were not dealing
The first part of the conference was devoted to Scientology and
In the second part of the conference they tried to equate the
evangelical churches with Scientology and Jehovah's Witnesses.
It was stressed that, and I quote: "neo-Pentecostal sects
threaten the health of the nation and the security of Russia." It was
frequently stated that in Russia the so-called "neo-Pentecostal sects"
at any moment might make a revolution or overthrow the government. They
cited as an example the activity of "neo-Pentecostals" of the Volga
region, where, as speaker Alexander Kuzmin, the director of the Saratov
division of the Center of Religious Studies Research, said active work
with youth is being conducted. Young people are attracted to various
programs and activities. And the youth sympathize completely with them.
There also were brought up the examples of the "orange revolution" in
Ukraine in which the church of Sunday Adeladzha took an active part,
and the mayor of Kiev does not conceal his adherence to the
"neo-Pentecostals," and supposedly what happened in Ukraine could be
repeated in Russia also.
In his speech Kuzmin maintained that "neo-Pentecostal sects" have good
relations with the government and news media and they conduct active
social, charitable activity and have their own means of mass
communication. Statements by several speakers "slung mud" on such
organizations as the United Nations, Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe, the Helsinki Commission, well known rights
defense organizations, and the governments of a number of countries.
According to eye witnesses, the external appearance of a number of
speakers evoked serious questions about their sanity and, possibly,
whether they have some kind of psychiatric disorders.
One also got the impression that the Russian "sect scholars"—from the
St. Irenaeus of Lyons Center and RATsIRS—are being sponsored from
abroad, directly by this nefarious FECRIS.
In addition, the personalities speaking at the conference looked like
people who would not be able to succeed in any other sphere of
activity. (tr. by PDS, posted 22 May 2009)
Russian original posted on Portal-credo.ru
site, 22 May 2009
Religion News Current News Items
MEMBER OF COUNCIL IN RUSSIAN MINISTRY OF JUSTICE ACCUSES EVANGELICAL
CHURCHES OF "BEATINGS AND MURDERS OF CHILDREN"
Center, 12 May 2009
Alexander Kuzmin, the head of the Saratov division of Dvorkin's
antisectarian center and a member of the Council for Conducting State
Religious Expert Analysis within the Ministry of Justice of RF, has
accused the "Word of Life" evangelical churches of "beatings and
murders of children under the pretext of exorcising Satan," the press
service of the Slavic Legal Center reports.
The accusation of the "sect scholars" against protestant churches
cannot only not be confirmed by facts but they are clear fabrications,
and the dissemination of such accusations, much more by members of the
council in the Ministry of Justice, is the incitement of
inter-religious strife and debases the honor and dignity both of
individual believers and of religious associations.
On 11 May Kuzmin distributed a document bearing the title "Sectarian
invasion of Saratov: the 'Experience the power of change' action.
Appeal to the residents of Saratov and Saratov province." The author of
this appeal warns: "Beware, the 'Experience the power of change'
is being conducted with the participation of dangerous sects notorious
for their crimes against the individual, family, and our state!"
Alexander Kuzmin accuses both the particular protestant church and all
the evangelical churches of the "Word of Life" movement in Russia. "One
of the participants of the 'Experience the power of change' action is
an organization with the quite harmonious sounding name 'the Word of
Life church of Christians of Evangelical Faith of the city of Saratov.'
Sometimes this organization calls itself the 'Diocese of churches of
Christians of Evangelical Faith of Saratov province.' It would
seem as if everything is quite Christian, everything is fine, and there
are no suspicions. However in reality 'Word of Life' is a terribly
destructive sect. One quarter of the followers of this organization in
Switzerland tried to end their lives by suicide. In Russia there have
been in this sect incidents of beating and murder of children under the
pretext of exorcism of Satan. Throughout the vast expanse of the former
USSR this sect has distinguished itself by its financial machinations
and scandals. . . ."
For some reason, Alexander Lediaev, pastor of the "New Generation"
church in Riga, who has nothing to do with the "Word of Life" church,
was named as one of the leaders of the movement. The Saratov "Word of
Life" church arose in 1993 and now comprises about 1000 parishioners.
On 5 May there also was circulated a statement of the Saratov division
of the Center of Religious Studies Research regarding the "Experience
the power of change" actions to representatives of the state, news
media, advertising agencies, and commercial and public structures. We
recall that other members of the Expert Council in the Ministry of
Justice of RF, who back the Yaroslavl Antisectarian Center, have spoken
out against the "Experience the power of change" social action of
Christian protestant churches of Yaroslavl. The creators and activists
of the Yaroslavl Antisectarian Center include members of the Council
for Conduct of State Religious Expert Analysis of the Ministry of
Justice, Evgeny Mukhtarov (its director) and Andrei Vasilchenko.
(tr. by PDS, posted 13 May 2009)
SARATOV DIVISION OF DVORKIN'S ANTISECTARIAN CENTER COMES OUT AGAINST
SOCIAL ACTION OF PROTESTANT CHURCHES
Center, 12 May 2009
The Saratov division of Dvorkin's antisectarian center issued a
statement against the "Experience the power of change" social action of
protestant churches of Saratov province. On 5 May the statement of the
Saratov division of the Center for Religious Studies Research regarding
the "Experience the power of change" actions was distributed to
representatives of government, news media, advertising agencies, and
commercial and public structures, the press service of the Slavic Legal
The Saratov center is a subdivision of Dvorkin's antisectarian center
which is headed by Alexander Kuzmin, who along with Dvorkin is a member
of the Council for Conduct of State Religious Expert Analysis of the
Ministry of Justice of RF.
The statement noted that "this 'media-project' is being conducted by
the 'Power of change' center for social aid with the support of the
'community of 15 Christian churches of the city of Saratov and Saratov
province.' In reality the autonomous noncommercial organization 'Power
of change Center of Social Aid' is only a façade for conducting
religious agitation activity."
In Kuzmin's opinion, "the organizers present this project as supposedly
'Christian' and 'social,' while actually in all regions of our country
this action has become notorious for its methods of action.
Confessional anonymity concealing the true evangelistic essence of this
action in advertisements, signs, and brochures are more the rule than
the rare exception for the organizers of this project. . . . In
addition the 'Experience the power of change' action often evokes
social tension. In Ufa, Petrozavodsk, Novosibirsk, Arkhangelsk, and
Riazan the population of these cities have responded extremely
negatively to this action and there have been instances of deliberate
destruction of the 'Power of change' signs, journalists have refused to
publish its materials, and residents conducted demonstrations and
pickets against the sectarians." At the same time Kuzmin does not
mention that it has been the antisectarian statements like the one from
his center that have served as propaganda of hatred and hostility with
regard to evangelical churches, the organizers of these social actions.
. . .
A statement of the Yaroslavl antisectarian center against the
"Experience the power of change" social action appeared on 27 April on
the official site of the antisectarian para-Orthodox organization
Russian Association of Centers for Study of Religions and Sects, whose
president is "professor" and chairman of the Expert Council of the
Ministry of Justice Alexander Dvorkin. The statement of the Yaroslavl
antisectarian center notes: "The action itself usually lasts
exactly a month and may be accompanied, alongside the distribution of
books, by religious 'festival' and 'concerts,' free showing of
'religious' films with subsequent sermons, press conferences, and round
tables of a propagandistic character for representatives of the news
media. At the same time practically everywhere there have been
violations of the requirement of the federal law 'On freedom of
conscience and religious association,' which forbids religious
organizations from conducting their activity without announcing the
denomination and confessional affiliation. But this is what they are
doing, hiding behind the screen of the supposedly 'secular'
organization of 'the Power of change.'"
Despite the fact that the "Experience the power of change" action
presents itself not as a secular but as a joint Christian action
uniting evangelical protestant churches, the authors of the statement
accuse the organizers of violation of law and subject them to insults.
The statement stresses that the action is conducted "by members of
sects who are especially trained in persuasion activity;" "we see the
well known sectarian approach when under the pretense of participating
in a secular holiday there will be organized some kind of grand and
vociferous religious propaganda show."
The authors of the statement appeal to the news media and
representatives of the government for them to counteract the activity
of the Christian churches whom members of the council in the Ministry
of Justice accuse of the most diverse crimes, setting the public
against officially registered communities. Thus, at the end the appeal
notes: "One wishes very much to hope for understanding on the
part of workers of news media and advertising agencies as well as state
and municipal officials. Remember that your cooperation with the
organizers of these events will result in an expansion of the sphere of
influence of religious sects, and that means broken destinies,
dissolved families, and apartments 'dedicated to God.'"
The statement maintains that organizers of "Experience the power of
change" have deceived the leadership of the Voronezh diocese of RPTsMP,
which supported the action. Words of support of the action on the part
of Metropolitan of Voronezh and Borisoglebsk Sergius and information
concerning it may be found on the official web site of "Experience the
power of change," http://www.silaperemen.ru/. (tr. by PDS, posted
13 May 2009)
Religion News Current News Items
Pope and patriarch could meet in Belarus
LUKASHENKO DENIES POLITICAL SUBTEXT IN INITIATIVE TO ORGANIZE MEETING
OF HEADS OF ORTHODOX AND CATHOLIC CHURCHES IN BELORUSSIA
8 May 2009
Belorussian President Alexander Lukashenko has denied a political
subtext in his initiative to organize a meeting in the future between
the primates of the Orthodox and Catholic churches.
"What kind of politics are here? Somebody in Russia has an itch, as
Chernomyrdin (Viktor Chernomyrdin, ex-premier, now Russian ambassador
in Kiev—"IF") said. So scratch some other place," Lukashenko declared
to journalists on Friday during a working trip in Minsk province.
As regards his initiative to organize a meeting in Belorussia of Roman
Pope Benedikt and Patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus Kirill, Lukashenko
said: "Somebody has to be blind not to see the realities. And the
realities are such that Belorussia occupies second place after
Lithuania in the post-soviet space in the number of resident Catholics.
Catholics are our people, and I have done everything that I promised
them," Lukashenko noted. "They consider me their president."
"As regards Orthodox, I constantly and systematically meet with the
Synod and the patriarch," the president added.
"The time will come when they will meet. But today there are problems
that the Orthodox and Catholics know about. If they (heads of the
churches—"IF") will be ready to meet, then Belorussia offers its
services, because here there is a convergence of cultures and
religions," Lukashenko noted.
He also does not see anything bad in the fact that the Catholic church
has facilitated normalization of relations of Belorussia with the
West. "I am thankful that the pope and Cardinal Bertone (Tarcisio
Bertone, State Secretary of the Vatican—"IF") have helped to fix
relations between Belorussia and the West. What's wrong with that?" the
head of the Belorussian state said.
Lukashenko called "baseless" claims in a number of news media that
Belorussia is normalizing relations with the West to the detriment of
cooperation with Russia. "Charges that we are drifting toward the West
do not correspond with reality," the president of Belorussia declared.
"We simply want to have normal partnership relations with the West. I
am sure that we will normalize these relations despite those who do not
want it." (tr. by PDS, posted 9 May 2009)
Religion News Current News Items
Ukrainian-Russian war of Moscow patriarchate
On the eve of Patriarch Kirill's visit to Ukraine, a media war has
broken out between ideologues of the Moscow patriarchate in Moscow and
Kiev. Mazepa, concerning whose anathema the head of OVTsSUPTsMP and a
member of the theological commission of RPTsMP are disputing, is only
an excuse. (Portal-credo.ru
DISCUSSION ABOUT LIFTING ANATHEMA FROM MAZEPA RESULT OF POLITICAL
PRESSURE ON CLERGY
8 May 2009
Metropolitan of Odessa and Ismailsk Agafangel, a permanent member of
the Holy Synod of UPTsMP, thinks that conversations about the
possibility of lifting the anathema from Hetman Ivan Mazepa are the
result of political pressure on the Ukrainian Orthodox church of the
Moscow patriarchate [UPTsMP]. This is how he commented recently
on the words of the head of OVTsSUPTsMP Arkhimandrite Kirill, who
stated that rescinding the decision for Mazepa's excommunication is
theoretically possible, since it had a crudely political rationale and
had no basis from an ecclesiastical point of view.
"Several representatives of our church, under pressure from political
forces, are fulfilling not their own but somebody else's will. However
the essential part of the episcopate and healthy forces in Ukraine
express opposition to removing the anathema from Mazepa since it is
impossible to justify a lie and call it truth," Metropolitan Agafangel
told an Interfax-religiia correspondent on 8 May.
In his opinion, attempts of politicians to rehabilitate Mazepa come
"from a series of anti-Russian provocations which have been created in
Ukraine with the consent and participation of the president
himself." "Both the opening of the Museum of the Occupation and
ballyhooing of the Golodomor [Ukrainian famine holocaust] and of
Mazepa—all of these are links in a single chain, the attempts by people
who want to exterminate Russian culture. Russian traditions, and the
Russian language in Ukraine," the UPTsMP bishop is sure.
Metropolitan Agafangel thinks that "nationalistic politicians who are
trying by all means to force the 'Mazepa' question, including use of
pressure on the canonical Orthodox church, have recently removed
memorials to the soldiers of the Great Patriotic was in western regions
of Ukraine, with the silent consent of Viktor Yushchenko."
"This is an outrage against those who laid down their lives for our
nation," the metropolitan emphasized.
In conclusion, he declared that "it is impossible to construct peace
with the rehabilitation of such a person as Mazepa; on the contrary, we
will get only a further destabilization of Ukrainian society." (tr. by
PDS, posted 8 May 2009)
ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR OF LIFTING ANATHEMA FROM MAZEPA DO NOT WITHSTAND
5 May 2009
The synodal theological commission of the Moscow patriarchate
categorically discounted the words of a prominent representative of the
Ukrainian Orthodox church who allowed the possibility of removing the
anathema from Hetman Ivan Mazepa.
Yesterday in an interview with an Interfax-religiia correspondent the
head of the Department for External Church Relations of UPTs,
Arkhimandrite Kirill, said that rescinding the decision to
excommunicate Mazepa from the church is theoretically possible since it
had a crudely political basis. According to Fr Kirill there have
previously been cases where anathemas have been rescinded, in
particular in the case of Old Believers.
"One must consider that the majority of Fr Kirill's arguments do not
withstand criticism," Archpriest Andrei Novikov, a priest of the Odessa
diocese of UPTs and member of the theological commission, told the
agency on Tuesday.
Thus, appeal to the removal of "anathemas against Old Believers" as an
example of the possibility of lifting the anathema from Mazepa "is
insubstantial for the simple reason that anathemas imposed personally
on leaders of the Old Believer schism were not rescinded, but what was
removed were the curses on the rituals themselves and those who
supported them." Personal anathemas can be removed only in the case of
the repentance of those anathematized, and there was no repentance on
Mazepa's part, the priest recalled.
He said that lifting the anathema from Mazepa would become
"automatically an admission of the possibility in principle of the
fallibility of the church and of the insubstantiality of others of its
anathemas, specifically the anathema of the false patriarch of Kiev
The agency's interlocutor also expressed disagreement with the idea
that the oaths that Mazepa gave to Peter I should be assessed by
politicians and historians and not by the church. "The violation of an
oath is punished by the canons of the holy church and thus is a
canonical crime, just like the violation of his oath by the former
Metropolitan of Kiev Filaret Denisenko. Many local churches have
imposed anathemas in the most diverse of historical periods of various
persons for violation of oaths," Fr Andrei emphasized.
He was amazed that the head of a prominent synodal department of UPTs
should defend Mazepa, suggesting that he had not formed an alliance
"The anathema of Mazepa was actually imposed for his alliance with a
Lutheran, which is a well known fact, and I do not understand how one
can deny it, as well as for turning over churches to Lutherans and for
the fact that King Charles "desecrated and demolished holy places"
surrendered by Mazepa—this also is a proven historical fact. In
addition, the anathema on Mazepa was established by the liturgical
tradition of the church which cannot be found fallible and subject to
review," the representative of the theological commission reminded his
In conclusion he stated that if there has been a mythologizing of the
Mazepa question, it is not on the part of the Russian Orthodox church
but on the part of "several political circles of Ukraine that are
blinded by nationalistic hatred for Russia." (tr. by PDS, posted 8 May
HEAD OF THEOLOGICAL CANONICAL COMMISSION OF UPTsMP THINKS WORDS OF HEAD
OF OVTsSUPTsMP ABOUT MAZEPA WILL DIVIDE SOCIETY
7 May 2009
The chairman of the Theological Canonical Commission of the Ukrainian
Orthodox church of the Moscow patriarchate (UPTsMP), Bishop of Sukhumi
and Akhtyr Evlogy thinks that lifting the anathema from Mazepa cannot
by considered. "An anathema can be lifted if one hundred percent proof
is given that the person repented of his evil before his death. But in
the case of Mazepa nobody has yet produced such proof; it simply does
not exist. Therefore one cannot speak of lifting the anathema," Evlogy
declared to the Interfax-religiia site.
On 1 May the head of the Department for External Church Relations
[OVTsS] of the UPTsMP, Arkhimandrite Kirill, declared to the same site
that rescinding the decision for the excommunication of Hetman Mazepa
is theoretically possible, since it had a crudely political rationale
and had no basis from an ecclesiastical point of view. This statement
began a whole informational campaign conducted by Interfax against
"Many say, 'Mazepa built churches.' Well so did Hitler on the territory
of the 'Third Reich'; he restored all the churches and built a new,
splendid Resurrection cathedral in Berlin. And we know what Hitler did
afterward. Erection of churches cannot be a justification for Hitler's
subsequent actions just as there cannot be a justification for Mazepa
in his violation of the oath that he gave before the cross and gospel
and in his destruction of Orthodox shrines and desecration of Orthodox
churches on the part of Lutherans," Bishop Evlogy emphasized.
In his opinion, those who want to lift the anathema from Mazepa, "in
essence are raising anew a troublesome topic that will split society."
"Surely now is not the time when one needs to talk about these
questions in general. We do not need to deal with it. This divides and
splits the nation," the bishop of UPTsMP stated. (tr. by PDS,
posted 8 May 2009)
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