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Russia Religion News Current News Items

Muslim activist charged


A search was conducted on 27 March in the apartment of the president of the Islamic Committee of Russia, Geidar Dzhemal. As the TV channel "Dozhd" broadcast, Dzhemal was charged under article 282 of the Criminal Code, "Inciting hatred or enmity with debasing of the dignity of a person or group of persons on basis of sex, race, nationality, language, ancestry, religious affiliation, or membership in some social group."

According to information of the television station, the search was conducted by five agents of FSB. Dzhemal at first refused to open the door demanding the journalist Maksim Shevchenko be present during the search as a witness. After his arrival, the search continued.

As Dzhemal himself said on air on "Echo of Moscow," the search was connected with some publications on his website, ""

Not long before the search, the "Neva-24" website published an interview with Dzhemal in which he said that a new revolution awaits Russia in the near future. "The only way in which Russia can be saved is to start with a clear sheet," he thinks.

In the second half of the day it became known that a search was conducted in another of Geidar Dzhemal's apartments that he had received as an inheritance from his mother. (tr. by PDS, posted 28 March 2012)

Statement of Islamic Civic Charter in support of Geidar Dzhemal

The Islamic Civic Charter issues a decisive protest against repressive actions by Russian authorities with respect to the famous public figure Geidar Dzhemal, who is known for his defense of the rights and interests of Russian Muslims.

Geidar Dzhemal isknown to wide circles of the Russian and world public as a prominent Moscow intellectual and political philosopher. His main efforts have long been primarily in the theoretical and intellectual sphere and therefore by definition he cannot be considered a threat to the lives and security of citizens of Russia and the interests of its society.

In this regard, the opening of a criminal case against him on article 282 of the Criminal Code seems doubly obnoxious and may be viewed only as pressure by the authorities on a member of the Russian opposition movement in a series of other cases begun against representatives of other ideological camps of the Russian opposition.

The Islamic Civic Charter demands that the persecution of Geidar Dzhemal cease, just as that of other representatives of the Russian public who are being subjected to repression on suspicion of violating article 282. (tr. by PDS, posted 28 March 2012)

Russian original posted on site, 27 March 2012

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Evangelical preacher on trial in Kiev

RISU, 23 March 2012

As the newspaper "Segodnia" reports, the attorney for the victims of the "King's Capital" financial pyramid, Ivan Bodnaruk, intends to petition for separate reviews of the suicides of investors and for a judge's decision.

"This is an article 120: inducement of suicide. During the debate I will ask the judge, citing the testimony of relatives and witnesses, to render a separate decision on bringing Sunday and other defendants to justice," Bodnaruk said. The article provides for up to five years in prison. "If we prove that this is inducement of suicide, they will be given the maximum term, some for 12 years including Sunday and others for 15 years," Bodnaruk says.

He says that desperate investors have laid hands on themselves. "Vladimir V. hanged himself. He and his wife invested 16 thousand dollars in 'King's Capital.' His wife says that what killed him was that Sunday, who her husband thought was a holy man, could scam his own people in this way," the attorney says. In addition he said that earlier a parishioner from Kiev took pills for the same reason, another died from a stroke when he learned about the collapse of the pyramid, and a woman from Kiev province came personally to Adelaja and asked for a return of money, but he refused her, after which she hanged herself.

There was also another similar incident. Sunday himself, as is known, does not acknowledge his guilt and he thinks that the collapse of "King's Capital" and the whole creation of the pyramid has nothing to do with him. He says that he did not encourage anybody to invest and that what his parishioners do with their free time is not his business. Yesterday he was supposed to describe all of this in a regular court session where it was planned to question him, but more civil suits appeared from victims outside the country and therefore it had to be postponed. "Only 10% of all victims of the fraud have sued. Many do not believe that the money can be returned, some think Sunday innocent, and still others attend his church. Half of the suits have already been read. The defendants could be questioned, particularly Sunday, but some of the victims are outside Ukraine and they want to be present. Of 40 of my clients, the minimum for moral damages is 300 thousand hryvnia. Material damages are from $1,000 to $100,000," Bodnaruk says.

According to attorney Andrei Fedur, Adelaja will be questioned only a year from now, since the case is being dragged out. The trial itself may be dragged out another 2 or 3 years. "Look, the prosecutor has been reading charges from last May to March. That's almost a year. Although it could have been done in two weeks," Fedur says.  (tr. by PDS, posted 27 March 2012)

Related articles: 

"Ukrainian evangelical minister accused of fraud"   June 2, 2011

"Evangelical pastor on trial in Kiev "   September 13, 2011

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Patriarch condemns protest in church

Interfax-Religiia, 26 March 2012

Patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus Kirill sharply condemned the action of the "Pussy Riot" group in the church of Christ the Savior.

"We have no future if we begin mocking the great sacred things and if this mockery falls on somebody's soul as a kind of heroism, as a certain expression of political protest, as an appropriate action, or as a harmless joke," the patriarch said on Saturday after the liturgy in the Moscow church of the Deposition of the Robe.

The primate acknowledged that his heart was torn because among the people who are justifying this blasphemy and minimizing it "there are those who call themselves Orthodox."

Patriarch Kirill thinks that what happened is the machinations of the devil. "Today we all are observing the Great Fast. The devil is mocking all of us by imposing so many sorrows in these days when we are supposed to distance ourselves from the worries of this world, immerse ourselves in prayer, discipline ourselves by fasting, and repent for our own sins," he said.

At the same time, the patriarch suggested that this trial may have been sent to believing people during Lent "so that we realize our responsibility for our land, for Sacred Rus, and for the Orthodox faith."  "This sense of responsibility is expressed by an Orthodox person, first, in fervent prayer to God. These people do not believe the power of prayer. They believe the power of propaganda, the power of lies and slanders, the power of the Internet, the power of the news media, and the power of money and weapons. We believe the power of prayer," the patriarch emphasized.

He called the whole church "to earnest and fervent prayer for our country, for our faith, and for our nation so that the Lord will forgive us our sins and grant again his mercy upon us . . . so that going through these trials and temptations we will come out of them cleansed, strengthened, and able to build up our future in accordance with God's law and human conscience." (tr. by PDS, posted 27 March 2012)

Interfax-Religiia, 26 March 2012

Members of the feminist punk group "Pussy Riot" declared that their outrageous action in the church of Christ the Savior was intended to be a defense of sacred things.

"Fervent and sincere prayer cannot be mockery and blasphemy, whatever form it takes, and thus it is impossible to say the we desecrated sacred things or that we mocked sacred things," says a letter from the group to Patriarch Kirill, the text of which was posted on Monday in the "Pussy Riot" blog. The letter is prefaced with a quotation from the gospel: "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven."

In this way the members of the musical collective responded to the prelate's sermon delivered on Saturday which declared that "We have no future if we begin mocking the great sacred things and if this mockery falls on somebody's soul as a kind of heroism, as a certain expression of political protest, as an appropriate action, or as a harmless joke."

The patriarch noted that the participants and the organizers of the action "believe the power of propaganda, the power of lies and slander, the power of the Internet, the power of news media, and the power of money and weapons," while Orthodox people believe the power of prayer.

Meanwhile the members of "Pussy Riot" stated that the patriarch was mentioned in their "punk prayer" in the church because he had permitted the church "to become an instrument of dirty election campaign intrigues."

"You are totally wrong in claiming in your sermon that we do not believe the power of prayer because if we did not believe the power of prayer and speech we would not have been praying in the church so earnestly and fervently, anticipating the harsh persecution that could fall on us and our loved ones from the weight of the repressive apparatus of earthly authority," the letter says.

"Despite what you tried to convince the flock of during your sermon, we believe only in the power of prayer, only in the power of art, only in the power of speech, and only in the power of love for our friends and neighbors, because there is nothing more for us to believe and we have nothing more than our prayers and songs," the group stated.

It does not believe that it is possible to remain a Christian "and demand imprisonment and savage punishment for those whose prayer sounds differently and ascends in a uncanonical site." "We admire the humanity and tolerance of Jesus, his ability to save and exalt a person, and all of us must strive for this ideal, regardless of our faith. . . . We will tell the world another 13 thousand times that our prayer cannot be 'mockery of great sacred things,' because we also prayed to the Mother of God for protection of the sacred things of our land," the document says. . . .  (tr. by PDS, posted 27 March 2012)

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Punk protest commotion continues

Interfax-Religiia, 22 March 2012

The State Duma of RF did not support the suggestion of a group of deputies from the "United Russia" faction to request from law enforcement agencies information about measures taken to hold criminally liable the organizers of the "Pussy Riot" punk group action.

On Wednesday, United Russia deputies proposed that the Duma Committee on Security be instructed to send an inquiry to the Investigative Committee and the Prosecutor General regarding what measures that have taken "for identifying and holding criminally liable the entire circle of persons who participated in planning and producing the blasphemous action in the church of Christ the Savior."

As noted in the draft of the protocol assignment, thus far there has been no identification of persons "who were the real organizers of this action as well as the workers who photographed it and helped carry the equipment and conducted an interview with the participants in the action, and then in every possible way spread information aimed at discrediting the Russian Orthodox Church."

In the opinion of the authors of the document, there is sufficient information in news media and the Internet "giving evidence of the commission of a crime specified in article 282 of the Criminal Code of RF, consisting of the incitement of religious enmity and strife."

During review of the question about this protocol assignment, the vice-chairman of the State Duma Committee on Security, Ernest Valeev, noted that the committee recommends rejecting the document. Having emphasized that the committee shares the indignation over the crime, E. Valeev explained that it is not possible to perform the assignment since this violates the law on the status of deputies that forbids them to intervene in the activity of investigation agencies, investigators, and judges. (tr. by PDS, posted 22 March 2012)

Interfax-Religiia, 22 March 2012

Representatives of traditional religions of Russia called the action of members of the punk group "Pussy Riot" in the church of Christ the Savior blasphemy.

"What happened in the chief Orthodox church of the country, when a group of women in masks and provocative clothing began dancing on the platform, shouting words that are blasphemous and insulting to Christians has profoundly disturbed believers of all our religious communities," the statement of the council adopted at its session on Thursday in the Moscow Choral Synagogue says. Participants in the meeting emphasized that the action of these people is "not just hooliganism; their goal is to incite hatred within society on religious grounds." "We call the perpetrators of this atrocity to come to their senses and make public apologies. We are sure that the act of these people has touched the majority of the citizens of our country, regardless of their convictions," the document says.

Having recalled that the cathedral church was built in the 19th century and restored in the 20th century as a monument to the victory of Russia in the Fatherland War of 1812, the members of the council noted that 200 years later the blasphemers repeated "those abominations that the invaders of Moscow committed, turning the churches of the capital into kitchens, stables, and alehouses." "We consider it true that this crime should be considered as aiming at dividing society and inciting strife among believers and nonbelievers. We are sure that it is necessary to expose all organizers, participants, and possible sponsors of this action. We hope that society and the courts will be able to find appropriate measures for reeducating those who have gone wrong," the statement of religious figures says. (tr. by PDS, posted 22 March 2012)

Interfax-Religiia, 22 March 2012

The Moscow Yabloko party has demanded release of the participants of the "Pussy Riot" group that received a new batch of notoriety after the action in the church of Christ the Savior.

"We condemn the hooligan action that was committed and that affected the feelings of some believers. We think that the crime committed by 'Pussy Riot' is not grounds for imprisoning them," the statement of the regional council of the Moscow division of the Yabloko party says, which Interfax received on Thursday.

In the opinion of Yabloko, what has happened "once again demonstrates that it is hardly possible now to speak of any kind of profound liberalization of our law enforcement system."

The party does not rule out that such stern measures regarding the girls, two of whom are mothers of small children, is "the revenge of the authoritarian state and its individual representatives, who are employing legal mechanisms as an instrument of repression in accordance with personal motives."

Yabloko called law enforcement agencies and the courts to follow strictly the principles of humane treatment of persons and citizens along with the constitutional principle of the separation of church and state. (tr. by PDS, posted 22 March 2012)

Interfax-Religiia, 21 March 2012

The head of the synodal Department for Relations of Church and Society, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, is praying for the members of the "Pussy Riot" punk group and he intends to find out whether they have been baptized.

"Tomorrow I will meet, if everything works out, if everything goes well, with the attorney of these people, on their initiative, and I would be interested in learning whether they have been baptized or not," the priest said on Wednesday at a meeting with students of the television faculty of MGU that was conducted by its dean, the famous political scientist Vitaly Tretiakov.

"Many people will say, and I will say myself, that it is not necessary to imprison these people for many years; That's too big a gift for them. Many will say, and I will say myself, that we expect repentance from them; if repentance occurs, attitudes change completely. I pray for them. To be sure, I do not know whether they have been baptized, but perhaps it will be possible to talk with their attorneys and learn a bit more about them," the representative of the church hopes.

According to Father Vsevolod, he has already prayed for the "Pussy Riot" members and if he learns that they have been baptized, he will pray "even more earnestly."

As reported earlier, on 21 February the "Pussy Riot" punk group staged an anti-Putin performance in the church of Christ the Savior, calling it a "punk prayer." Police opened a criminal case on article 213 of CC RF (hooliganism). Afterward three members of the group were arrested, Maria Alekhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and Ekaterina Santsevich. All three will be in custody until 24 April. (tr. by PDS, posted 22 March 2012)


Attorneys Nikolai Polozov and Mark Feigin, who are representing the interests of the detainees in the case of the "punk prayer" staged by members of the "Pussy Riot" punk group, visited on 22 March the church of St. Nicholas on Three Hills in Moscow, in which is located the Department for Relations of Church and Society of the Moscow patriarchate (OVTsOMP) and they talked with its chairman, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin. Nikolai Polozov wrote about this on his "Twitter" microblog, a correspondent of reports.

Nikolai Polozov is representing Maria Alekhina, and Mark Feigin, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (a.k.a. Tolokno), who sent through the attorney a letter to Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin requesting that he visit her in the Moscow SIZO No. 5, where she is being held by court decision until 25 April. According to Nikolai Polozov, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova asks Fr Vsevolod to listen to her point of view on the "punk prayer," but she does not indicate any intention of repenting or making confession to the chairman of OVTsOMP.

Assessing the results of the meeting, Attorney Nikolai Polozov notes:  "The conversation was in a constructive key."

The data and time of Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin's visit to the SIZO No. 5 will be announced subsequently.

Russia Religion News Current News Items

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