RUSSIA RELIGION NEWS

STETSON UNIVERSITY

Monitoring news media reports about religion in Russia and other countries of CIS 
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Russia Religion News Current News Items

Arrest of Ukrainian pastor denied

PASTOR ADELAJA ADVISES EVERYBODY TO RELAX; NOBODY WILL ARREST HIM
RISU, 6 June 2011

Yesterday in the "Embassy of God" a wedding was celebrated and Pastor Sunday Adelaja conducted the ceremony, who, according to news media reports, was arrested by the security service the other day, but later this incident was denied. We recall, the pastor is associated with the "King's Capital" case and is free on his own recognizance.

The wedding ceremony was held in an enormous tent of Izhevskaia Street, where the "Embassy" conducts worship services. The groom and bride, dressed in traditional wedding garments, at the first mounted the stage, danced, and began describing the history of their love. "I chose him because God is in his eyes!" declared the bride, Masha Simonenko, who became acquainted with her future husband on social networks thanks to their common interests—attending the "Embassy."

Then, accompanied by an ovation, Adelaja himself came out to them, dressed in a snow white suit. He began reading from a paper questions for the young people, pronounced them husband and wife, and immediately began talking about himself. "I was at home when I heard about it!" he said, referring to his "arrest." "Even all together they are too small to arrest me. Until I finish what I started, I will not die and they will not arrest me. So you all relax," the pastor assured everybody. Then the celebration along with a banquet continued on a steamship, whose rental costs on the order of 5,000 hryvnias per hour. This was reported by UNIAN. (tr. by PDS, posted 6 June 2011).

Related article:  "Ukrainian evangelical minister accused of fraud ", June 2, 2011

Russia Religion News Current News Items

God to remain in Russian anthem

IDEA TO REMOVE "GOD" FROM RUSSIAN ANTHEM SUPPORTED BY ONLY TWO DEPUTIES
Portal.credo.ru, 6 June 2011

On 3 June the State Duma of the Russian federation declined on first reading a constitutional draft law of a deputy from the KPRF fraction, Boris Kashin, for excising from the text of the hymn of Russia the word "God" as inconsistent with a secular state, RIA Novosti reports.

The author of the draft law proposed changing the text of the state hymn of the Russian federation, replacing the words "native land preserved by God" in the twelfth line with the words "native land preserved by us." In his opinion, the text of the anthem should be consistent with the provisions of the basic law of the country and facilitate the consolidation of society on the basis of ideas and principles understood and accepted by the citizens. According to the constitution, the Russian federation is a secular state.

"No religion can be established in the capacity of a state or obligatory religion," an explanatory note to the draft law states. Kashin noted that he was talking not about "infringing (the rights of) anyone," but about "recognition of the rights of others."

In the process of the discussion a number of deputies from various fractions expressed opposition to adoption of such a draft law. Inter alia, even communists themselves did not support their colleague.

"If one takes faith out of the people's soul, then we will reach a point of no return. Deputies do not exist in order to drive a stake in society. It is necessary to consolidate the Russian people," said a deputy from the KPRF fraction, Sergei Sobko, noting that by Russian he understands both Bashkirs and Tatars and all representatives of the multinational Russian people. He said that the fraction opposes this draft law.

In his turn the head of the State Duma Committee on Affairs of Public Associations and Religious Organization, Sergei Popov, from "United Russia," reported that on dollars, in particular, is the phrase "In God we trust."

The responsible Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Structure, in its official conclusion, recommended to the chamber to decline the draft law in connection with the fact that according to Russian legislation "introducing changes in the text of the state hymn of the Russian federation is permitted only in the event of adoption of a new edition of the work."

The head of the committee, Vladimir Pligin, noted that God is something more than a religious symbol, but it is a worldview question, and at some moment in life, in his opinion, any person, even a nonbeliever, may refer to it. "When you wind up on the border of life and death, it is not known what a person will call to mind at that moment," Pligin said.

A deputy from the LDPR fraction, Valerii Seleznev, agreed with this opinion and noted that earlier he was not distinguished by his religiosity, but literally one month ago life circumstances brought him to God. "We should not revise the meaning and change the words of the anthem. It seems to me that this is a populist draft law," he said.

A deputy from the "Fair Russia" fraction, Vera Lekareva, reported that her fraction does not support this draft law, "whose essence is an unpardonable intrusion into the poet's text."

In all, two deputies out of 450 voted for Kashin's draft law. Opposed were 281 deputies. (tr. by PDS, posted 6 June 2011)

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Believers fined and penalized for resisting sign of Antichrist

GROUP OF RESIDENTS OF TULA PROVINCE GO TO COURT REFUSING PASSPORTS WITH "SATANIC SYMBOLISM"
Interfax-Religiia, 1 June 2011

Three residents of Kimovsk region of Tula province have filed suit in city court against UFMS [Office of Federal Migration Service] over the requirement of obtaining a passport with "satanic symbolism."

A review of the law suit is scheduled for 16 June, the press secretary of the provincial administration of the judicial department, Olga Diachuk, told Interfax. The plaintiffs have refused to exchange their soviet passport for a Russian passport for religious reasons. They claim that the design of the Russian passport includes the symbol "666," which is blasphemous for believers.

"A person is assigned an identification number, and that means that a number substitutes for a name, which leads to the reduction of a person to an object. A believing person cannot consent to renouncing one's name, since for a Christian the act of baptism has paramount importance," the plaintiffs declared.

By a decision of UFMS, the violators were brought to administrative accountability and fined 1,500 rubles each. Since they disagreed with the decision of the migration service, they filed suit in court.

This is not the first such instance in Kimovsk region. In 2010 Kimovsk resident Anna Durdinets also refused to exchange her soviet passport for a Russian because the latter supposedly contained a diabolical symbol. As a result, the woman does not receive a pension, which is viewed as a violation of her constitutional rights and she has demanded of UFMS compensation for damages. A court reviewed the complaint and rejected the claims for restitution of the violated right and compensation. (tr. by PDS, posted 3 June 2011)

Portal.credo.ru, 3 June 2011

It was planned that the 1974 form of soviet passports would be completely replaced with new Russian passports no later than 2008. However some residents of the country have not consented to accept the documents for religious reasons. Meanwhile, official representatives of RPTsMP do not see the number "666" in the Russian passport. (tr. by PDS, posted 3 June 2011)

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Patriarch's power grows with creation of new dioceses

SYNOD REDIVIDES RUSSIA
Five new dioceses formed within RPTs structure
by Pavel Korobov
Kommersant, 1 June 2011

Yesterday in St. Petersburg a regular session of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church (RPTs) was held under the chairmanship of Patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus Kirill. The supreme organ of church administration engaged in reshaping the territorial structure of the church, as a result of which five new dioceses have appeared on the administrative map of RPTs.

After the personnel reshuffling in the top levels of church administration that occurred in 2009, the patriarch decided to deal with the transformation of the canonical territory. The repatterning of the territorial administrative structure of RPTs began back at the previous session of the synod in March 2011, when the decision was made to create several new dioceses in the northern Caucasus. At the time the synod resolved to form the Piatigorsk and Cherkess diocese, including within it parishes of the Mineralnye Vody, Predgornyi, and Kirov regions of Stavropol territory, as well as the Kabardino-Balkariia and Karachaevo-Cherkesia republics. At the same the Vladikavkaz and Makhachkalinsk diocese was created that included parishes of North Ossetia, Dagestan, Ingushetia, and Chechnya. Before that the Caucasus region was tended by the Stavropol and Vladikavkaz diocese, along with the Baku and Prikaspiisk diocese.

"We must review a whole series of important questions affecting the life of RPTs and the reorganization of several dioceses," Patriarch Kirill said, beginning the synod's session. "We need to think of what steps must be taken in order that the church life in a whole series of regions will be more intense and responsive to the instructions of the Bishops' Council."

Today in the Russian Orthodox Church there are 164 dioceses, 217 ruling and assistant bishops, 30,675 parishes, 29,324 priests, and 3,850 deacons. There are 805 monasteries, including 398 for men and 407 for women.

As a result, yesterday several more dioceses of RPTs were subject to reorganization. The synod resolved to form within the Estonian Orthodox Church a diocese of Narva, within the administrative boundaries of the city of Narva along with several adjacent districts. Bishop of Narva and Prichudia Lazar was named to rule the new diocese, which is the second within the Estonian Orthodox Church. Before yesterday, this territory had been ruled by Metropolitan of Tallin and all-Estonia Kornilii.

In addition, the diocese of Mordovia and Saransk was divided. On the territory of Mordovia there will appear two new church territorial units, the dioceses of Krasnoslobodsk and Ardatov. The Tobolsk-Tiumen diocese also was reorganized. The synod resolved to remove from the diocese the territories of the Khanty-Mansiisk and Yamalo-Nenets autonomous districts. Thus two new dioceses were formed: that of Khanty-Mansiisk and Surgut and also of Salekhard and Novo-Urengoisk.

The Krasnoyarsk and Eniseisk diocese also was restructured. The synod decided to remove Eniseisk from it. Bishop of Anadyrsk and Chukotka Nikodim was appointed to lead the new Eniseisk and Norilsk diocese. In connection with the creation of the new diocese, the ruling bishop in Krasnoyarsk will have the new title of Krasnoyarsk and Achinsk.

"In Greece, there is a bishop in every city, but we have maintained the structure from soviet times when one city in a diocese is located 1,000 kilometers from another, and the parishioners do not know who their ruling bishop is," the director of the press service of the patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus, Vladimir Vigilianskii, explained for Kommersant the point of the transformation. "Decrease in the size of dioceses will improve their manageability."

"The formation of new dioceses is a reform of church administration, which should strengthen the authority in the provinces," the director of the Institute of Religion and Law, Roman Lunkin, is convinced. "In a large diocese, parishes often live by themselves, because the ruling bishop cannot physically look after all of them. Undoubtedly, the formation of the new dioceses will improve the administration of the church, while it also will strengthen the personal authority of the patriarch; after all, the new bishops are people beholden to him."  (tr. by PDS, posted 2 June 2010)

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Ukrainian evangelical minister accused of fraud

SUNDAY ADELAJA ARRESTED BY SPECIAL FORCES NEAR TRADE CENTER IN KIEV
RISU, 2 June 2011

Today in a flash two brigades of special forces of the Ukrainian Security Service arrested the pastor of the "Embassy of God" religious society, Sunday Adelaja. This report was shared by witnesses of the incident with a correspondent of the Ekspressinform Information Agency. Adelaja and two of his recently employed bodyguards were getting out of a vehicle. Neither the guards nor Sunday Adelaja himself put up any resistance.

Adelaja's arrest occurred near the South Bridge in the parking lot of the Materik Trade Center. It is significant and curious that the jeep from which Sunday was exiting at the time of the arrest was also confiscated and, it turned out, was registered to the pastor himself. Earlier Adelaja reported that the jeep as well as all of his means of transportation were the property of the church. "After all, the church cannot permit its pastors to live from hand to mouth and seem like beggars. To be a pastor is work and it takes a lot of strength and energy," Ekspressinform quoted Sunday Adelaja as saying.

As the agency noted, Pastor Sunday Adelaja, according to preliminary estimates, managed to amass illegally property worth 169 million hryvnias along with 33 million hryvnias in cash.

As noted earlier, the case of Adelaja began back in 2008. He remains free on his own recognizance. Investigative agencies opened a criminal case against the pastor of "The Embassy of God," Sunday Adelaja, and got from him a pledge not to leave the city in connection with the investigation of the "King's Capital" company for fraud.

It also was earlier reported that Pastor Sunday faces up to 12 years imprisonment with confiscation of property. Later the deputy minister of internal affairs, Vasilii Farinnik, declared that Sunday Adelaja had not given the investigation a reason to arrest him. He also noted that the investigation of the "King's Capital" company case was completed, and S. Adelaja and six others, who were criminally liable, were acquainted with the materials of the case.

Responding to a question whether S. Adelaja will be arrested soon, V. Farinnik said:  "The case is already completed, and the preventive measure can be changed in the event that he violates the process but it will be drawn out."

RISU continues to follow information concerning the arrest of Sunday Adelaja. (tr. by PDS, posted 2 June 2011)

Related article:     "Associates of Kiev evangelical pastor indicted ", August 12, 2010

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Disputes over who may be church members

BETWEEN HAMMER AND ANVIL
by Inna Zagrebina, President of Board of Directors of Guild of Experts on Religion and Law
SOVA Information and Analysis Center, 1 June 2011

Recently in several regions of Russia, agencies of justice have begun demanding of leaders of religious organizations the introduction of anticonstitutional changes into their charters, indicating that only residents of the city or settlement in which a religious organization being examined is located may be members of the religious organization. Thus, for example, the Chief Administration of the Ministry of Justice for Moscow province conducted a scheduled document verification of the local religious organization of Evangelical Christians-Baptists in the city of Mytishchi. On the basis of the results of the verification a warning was issued in which it was indicated that the point of the church's charter stating that residents of Mytishchi and neighboring regions could be members contradicts points 1 and 3 of article 8 of the federal law of 26 September 1997, "On freedom of conscience and religious associations" (subsequently "federal law 125"), since members of a church are required to reside continuously and on legal bases in the same locality or in the same urban or rural settlement, in this case specifically the city of Mytishchi. The warning was appealed, but on 17 March 2011 a judge of the Mytishchi city court of Moscow province, M.Yu. Chernushevich, issued a decision denying the appeal in its entirety. That decision has been appealed.

Meanwhile, in accordance with article 28 of the Russian constitution, everyone is guaranteed freedom of conscience and religious confession, including the right to profess individually or jointly with all persons any religion or to profess none, to choose, possess, and disseminate freely religious and other convictions, and to act in accordance with them. This norm is repeated in point 1 of article 3 of federal law 125, with the addition that foreign citizens and persons without citizenship, who are legally on the territory of the Russian federation, enjoy the right to freedom of conscience and freedom of religious confession on a par with citizens of the Russian federation.

In accordance with article 27 of the Russian constitution, everyone who is legally on the territory of the Russian federation has the right to move and to choose freely the place of visitation and residence.

According to article 6 of federal law 125, in the Russian federation a religious association is recognized to be a voluntary association of citizens of the Russian federation and other persons continuously and on a legal basis residing on the territory of the Russian federation. In accordance with point 3, article 2, nothing in the legislation on freedom of conscience or freedom of religious confession should be interpreted in a sense that diminishes or infringes the human and civil rights to freedom of conscience and freedom of religious confession guaranteed by the Russian constitution or deriving from the international agreements of the Russian federation.

In addition, point 2 of article 3 of this law contains the explicit statement that the human and civil right to freedom of conscience and freedom of religious confession may be restricted by federal law only to the degree that is necessary to protect the bases of the constitutional order, morality, health, and human rights and legal interests of citizens, or guaranteeing the defense of the country and security of the state.

In other words, immigrants and people without continuous registration, including foreigners, may be members of a religious organization on the very same basis as locals who have continuous registration.

The preceding analysis of legislation demonstrates the illegality and invalidity of the requirements of the regulating agency. The prosecutor's office of the city of Surgut came to a similar conclusion. This prosecutor's office conducted a verification of the correspondence with existing legislation of the charters of religious organizations, active on the territory of the city. During the verification it was established that the charters of a number of religious organization did not comport with the legislation of RF. In particular, several charters contained points stating that only citizens who had reached the age of 18 and who resided continuously in the same locality or in the same urban or rural settlement could be members of the religious organization.

Such wording in the charter would be appropriate if we were talking about the charter members of the religious organization, with respect to whom federal law 125 established the requirement regarding the residence of citizens who have decided to found a religious organization in the same locality and who have reached the age of 18. However, citizens of the Russian federation and other persons who reside continuously and on legal bases on the territory of the Russian federation may be participants (members) of religious organizations, as shown above, without any restrictions.

As a result, the agencies of the prosecutor's office came to the defense of the rights and freedoms of citizens. The prosecutor's office issued to the leaders of the religious organizations protests stating that restrictions of the rights of citizens, who are on the territory of the Russian federation legally, to freedom of religious confession on the basis of age or place of residence are illegal. In connection with this the prosecutor's office issued a demand that the charters be brought into compliance with the requirements of the federal law "On freedom of conscience and religious associations." As a result, the leaders of the religious organizations fell in between the hammer and the anvil.

It seems that in the existing situation, acts of prosecutorial regulation should be issued not only to religious organizations that are in violation of the law, but also to the agencies of justice that are insisting on the specific wording in the charters.  (tr. by PDS, posted 1 June 2011)

Russia Religion News Current News Items
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