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Russia Religion News Current News Items

American government criticizes Ukrainian practices

RISU, 15 September 2011

A special account within the framework of the American Department of State's project on international religious freedom notes that positive trends are evident in Ukraine but there are several problems. Thus the account posted on the official Web site of the state department, citing the Ukrainian Association of Religious Freedom, says that the tangible commitment of President Viktor Yanukovich to one "religious group" has promoted a worsening of relations among various confessions.

In addition, investigators published evidence of cooperation of local soviets with one religious group at the expense of others. For example, the account says that representatives of the Kiev patriarchate complain that UPTsMP has pressured authorities of Kiev to prohibit UPTsKP from conducting funeral services in cemeteries.

Problems with discrimination against several religious groups have appeared also in refusals to register them in various regions of Ukraine, the report also says.

Thus experts cite the example where representatives of the Muslim community of Ukraine have had problems with registering new cells in Crimea, and representatives of Greek Catholics state that Kievan authorities do not want to grant them land for constructing churches, while UPTsMP has the same problem in the Lvov and Ivano-Frankovsk provinces.

The account says that Crimean Tatars also point to discrimination, on the part mainly of bureaucrats who are ethnic Russians, in blocking employment in local administrations. In addition, specialists add, Russian groups preach hostility to Tatars among other residents of Crimea.  (tr. by PDS, posted 16 September 2011)

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Evangelical pastor on trial in Kiev

by Andrei Tkach, 13 September 2011

Sunday Adelaja considers himself absolutely innocent. The pastor of the Embassy of God church who is charged with participation in the King's Capital financial fraud described in an exclusive interview with how he intends to show his innocence, why he considers himself a dissident in Ukraine, and how his trial which has begun will end. Question:  On 13 September the first court session was held and, as previously, do you consider yourself innocent of the King's Capital financial fraud which has hundreds of victims?

S.A.--Absolutely innocent. And I will continue to think so. A trial is the opportunity for a person to prove his innocence, and I have come to the court proudly, to defend my innocence!

--How do you intend to do this, since the investigation has collected sufficient materials to show your guilt?

--Let them show it. Let them produce just one document that demonstrates that I am guilty of something.

--Why do you refuse to acquaint yourself with the materials of the case?

--Because everything in it is far-fetched; they want to pin this case on me. They are dragging me by the ear. But here there will be justice in any case, even if earthly jurisprudence does not prove it, there still is God's trial. Even if the truth is killed a thousand times, it will nevertheless rise again.

--Why have you asked for the materials to be translated into the Yoruba language? You understand Russian well.

--My attorney requested that.  It wasn't I. I understand the languages.

--How do you assess your prospects in this trial? Aren't you afraid of jail?

--I want to say that this is not a trial of Sunday Adelaja. It is a trial of Ukrainian justice. It is an examination of Ukrainian justice.

--That is, do you consider yourself a dissident in Ukraine? That you are being persecuted for your religious views and not for criminal activity?

--Without a doubt.

--Do you really want to abandon your church or your flock?

--I do not know; you should ask those who started this whole thing. It has already been proven that they intend to judge me without proof of my guilt; they are prosecuting me without guilt.

--In that case, how do you feel about two bails?

--The whole thing is that I am not a man of the flesh.  I am a man of the spirit. One must be a free spirit. They can confine my flesh, but not my spirit.

--And you do not mind the seizure of your property that they may confiscate—house, vehicles, money?

--Indeed I have already told you—I am a man of the spirit and I do not live by means of these material things. And it is impossible to touch the spirit.

--Still how do you explain that in a video in the investigation you summon parishioners to put their money in the fraudulent King's Capital structure?

--If you are a journalist and you are not lazy, you can go on line yourself and view these tapes. I did not say such a thing there.

--Excuse me, I viewed these tapes and you say there straight out that one should invest in King's Capital.

--That shows that you did not watch carefully. It is obvious there that I am saying that one should not strive for high percentages and if some want to invest money they should protect themselves. One shouldn't invest without having understood. I did not call people to invest; I warned that people should be cautious.

--Well again I want to clarify: you did not call people to invest in the King's Capital and Club of 1,000 Millionaires structures?

--Of course I didn't. And thousands of people know that.

--Then who do you think was involved in the organization of the King's Capital fraud that robbed hundreds of people?

--Safonov and Bandurchenko [King's Capital managers who are being tried along with Sunday Adelaja—ed.]; they do not deny that they created it. They are right here. Ask them everything. They know.

--How do you think this trial will end?

--If Ukrainian justice is sufficiently mature and independent, they should acquit me. I have waited three years for this moment! I have even gone to court because this is my shining hour. If Ukrainian justice goes along with the conspirators and proves what doesn't exist in reality, it still will be my shining hour. Because it will be a trial, as I already said, of Ukrainian justice. Because the whole world will see this. What doesn't exist in reality cannot be proven.

--Do you intend to leave Ukraine?

--Until I prove my innocence I will not flee or leave for anywhere. It is a matter of honor. And I specifically will stay here and prove that in this country there still are those who live by the truth.

* * *
We recall that Sunday Sunkanma Adelaja is charged with creating the King's Capital criminal organization, which under the cover of the Embassy of God church has defrauded huge sums from parishioners. Now MVD investigators have managed to prove only a small portion of the losses, on the order of 80 million hryvnias. There are 618 victims in the case.

The criminal case against Adelaja was sent to the court at the end of July. On 13 September the first judicial session of the Sunday Adelaja case was held in the Dneprovsk district court of Kiev, but in the end it was decided to postpone the hearing since Adelaja, according to attorney Andrei Fedur, supposedly does not completely understand the indictment in the Ukrainian language. Thus the trial will resume on 27 September with the accused being provided interpreters.

It was reported earlier that Fedur requested the translation of 200 volumes of the criminal case from Ukrainian into Yoruba, since Adelaja does not understand Ukrainian well. (tr. by PDS, posted 16 September 2011)

RISU, 14 September 2011

The prosecutor general has confirmed the indictment and sent it to the Kiev Appeals Court for determining the jurisdiction of the criminal case against officials of the King's Capital financial group, Religiia v Ukraine reports, citing Segodnia.

Supporters of the pastor of the Embassy of God church, Sunday Adelaja, are planning to hold a demonstration outside the Dneprovsk court where the criminal case of the King's Capital company is being reviewed against the Embassy of God pastor, Sunday Adelaja, and another five officials of the church.

"It is especially unfortunate that the trial was scheduled for the cursed date of 13 September. But even that will not make us retreat. The Lord will not let the pastor be shamed. We will all be at the court to pray for him," said parishioner Natalia.

According to the results of the investigation, it has been established that in the course of 2006-2008 officials of King's Capital by fraudulent means in the form of high-yielding investments took possession of especially enormous amounts of citizens' wealth.

The defendants are accused of committing crimes provided for by part 1 of article 255 of the Criminal Code (creation of, leadership of and participation in criminal organization), part 4 of article 190 (fraud), and parts 2 and 3 of article 358 (forgery and use of documents known to be forged ).

There are 6l8 persons determined to be victims in this affair, who suffered material loss of a total of more than 52 million hryvnias.

In October 2010 the Ministry of Internal Affairs completed the investigation of the criminal case of the machinations of King's Capital.

In this case six persons were held criminally liable, among whom were officials of the King's Capital enterprise and Adelaja, who were accused of acquiring citizens' financial resources by fraudulent means. (tr. by PDS, posted 16 September 2011)

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Witnesses for defense in Jehovah's Witness trial


Six witnesses summoned by the defense were heard in judicial session on 13 September in Gornyi Altai city court in the case of the director of the local Jehovah's Witnesses religious organization, Alexander Kalistratov, the press service of the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia reports.

Mikhail Odintsov, the head of the Department for Defense of Freedom of Conscience of the apparatus of the Plenipotentiary for Human Rights in the Russian federation, actively participated in the trial, speaking as a private individual in Kalistratov's defense.

The first witness, who does not share the faith of his wife who is a Jehovah's Witness from back in soviet times, noted that he never has seen Jehovah's Witnesses participating in any kind of political actions,  disturbances or disorders. He characterized Kalistratov as a decent, industrious, and honest man. To the lawyers' question why, in his opinion, Kalistratov was in the defendant's dock, the man being examined answered this was a matter of persecution of dissidents which has endured from soviet times. He emphasized that in developed democratic countries, such as the states of the European Union and USA, Jehovah's Witnesses are not persecuted and their literature, which has been published for more than 100 years, is not banned. In response to this, Prosecutor Bulat Yaimov cited as a "positive example" that Jehovah's Witnesses are banned in China.

As a witness for the defense, kandidat of jurisprudence Anton Omelchenko, representing by proxy the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (Pennsylvania, USA, and New York, USA) and the publisher "Watchtower Bible and Tract Society" in Germany, which publishes and provides religious literature for Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, was examined. Omelchenko declared that Jehovah's Witnesses' literature is freely distributed in democratic countries of the world in more than 540 languages.

Analyzing the text of the indictment and expert analysis, witness Omelchenko stated that several quotations from publications listed in the indictment actually are absent from the publications. The author of the indictment indicated that several Jehovah's Witnesses' publications may hurt the feelings of Catholics. However, in countries where a majority of citizens profess Catholicism, these publications are freely distributed.

The court was read a quotation from the book "Government and Religion at the end of War" (M., 2005), where it is described how Hitler and the fascist regime treated Jehovah's Witnesses, who were banned by illegal methods and were systematically destroyed. Also read were quotations from the Nuremberg Trials which recalled the persecution of a group of Bible Students (as Jehovah's Witnesses were called in Germany) because they were peace-loving and pacifist.

Another witness stated that Jehovah's Witnesses' publications helped him be delivered from drugs and become a full-fledged member of society, and he is extremely amazed that for these very publications that helped him renounce a fatal dependency Kalistratov is now being held criminally liable. (tr. by PDS, posted 15 September 2011)

Russia Religion News Current News Items
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