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Alexander Dvorkin remains as head of Russian religious studies expert analysis
A few days ago during a session of the Council for Development of Civil Society and Human Rights of the Russian presidential administration, Attorney Vladimir Riakhovskii posed a question about the activity of Alexander Dvorkin in the capacity of the [head of the?—tr.] Expert Council under the Ministry of Justice, the SOVA Center for Information and Analysis reports.
In Riakhovskii's opinion, Dvorkin should not be in this position for a number of reasons:
--his prejudice evokes widespread dissatisfaction on the part of believers and the expert community;
--he does not have an education that is recognized in Russia;
--he is a citizen of the USA.
Minister of Justice Alexander Konovalov does not see anything dangerous in Dvorkin's activity. He says that the activity of the Expert Council under the Ministry of Justice has little significance, but the council itself elected its own chairman. The argument about the inadequacy of the education of the council's head does not seem to the minister reasonable, since Dvorkin has an academic degree, an American Ph.D. The minister of justice did not attempt to reply regarding Dvorkin's American citizenship.
Roman Lunkin, Guild of Experts on Religion and Law:
The statement of the Russian presidential Council on Human Rights against the radical opponent of sects, Dvorkin, can only strengthen the position of the Orthodox sect warrior. Criticism by rights advocates is the best recommendation for any bureaucrat under current conditions. Thus in this case Minister of Justice Alexander Konovalov is simply delighted for his protégé. Moreover, both the government and the Russian Orthodox Church need Dvorkin as a source for horror stories about religious life: thousands of lunatics and swindlers will flood the country if the government does not support Orthodoxy and combat non-Orthodox believers.
Behind Dvorkin stand patriotic Orthodox bureaucrats. This includes both Alexander Konovalov himself, a graduate of the St. Tikhon's Orthodox University, and his former deputy Aleksei Velichko, an amateur historian and author of a book about the symphony of state and church in Byzantium. . . .
Sect warrior Dvorkin's psychology is that of hostile takeover. His activity in the capacity of head of the Council for Religious Studies Expert Analyses is by no means insignificant. In dozens of regions of Russia, councils for regional departments of the Ministry of Justice abound with Dvorkin's disciples and many of his associates have received kandidat's degrees. There now is a whole system that always responds to requests from prosecutors' offices, FSB, and RPTs. Examples of the participation of sect warriors in expert analyses already exist in the Far East and Siberia. One of the members of the council under the Ministry of Justice, Roman Silantiev, a representative of RPTs and Dvorkin's colleague, does expert analyses regarding Muslims.
As regards the move by the member of the Council on Human Rights and attorney from the Slavic Legal Center, Vladimir Riakhovskii, against Dvorkin, it was to a substantial degree formal: for a long time Dvorkin has not been afraid of ritual accusations against him. The only thing that has frightened him and the bureaucrats was the "No to Inquisitors" action that was conducted in 2009 and that collected about 13,000 signatures of scholars and believers. The action began on the website of the Slavic Legal Center. Just when the wave of believer reached its peak, lawyers of the Slavic Legal Center removed the action from their website at the request of the powers that be. This happened right after Vladimir Riakhovskii and his brother, [Pentecostal—tr.] Bishop Sergei Riakhovskii, met with the then Deputy Minister of Justice Aleksei Velichko. Thus was quashed the civic initiative that could have sunk Dvorkin.
One threat to Dvorkin may be the law protecting believers' feelings. After all, the sect warrior and his colleagues periodically heap mud on the masses of non-Orthodox believers. Even despite the selectivity of the enforcement of our laws, sooner or later punishment will catch up with those who mistreat dissident believers. (tr. by PDS, posted 27 June 2013)
RPATs ACCUSES INTERFAX-RELIGIIA OF HURTING BELIEVERS' FEELINGS
It was reported on 27 June 2013 that the chancellery of the Bishops' Synod of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church (RPATs) has made a claim about offense to believers' feelings by the editorial board of the Interfax-Religiia website.
Portal-credo.ru has relayed the chancellery's report: "Claims that the late first hierarch of RPATs, Metropolitan Valentin, was convicted 'on charges of child molestation' do not correspond to reality (Metropolitan Valentin was acquitted and the judgment was vacated in 2003) and they offend the religious feelings of adherents of RPATs, which qualifies as a crime under current Russian legislation."
The indicated information was published by
Interfax on 27
June 2013 in connection with a sentence given to one of the
members of RPATs, Eremite
Serafim. (tr by PDS, posted 27 June 2013)
NIZHNY NOVGOROD SCHISMATIC RECEIVES TWO YEARS PROBATION
The Sormovo district court of Nizhny Novgorod issued a sentence to a "priest" of the schismatic Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church (RPATs) who was arrested with narcotics in the spring of this year.
A senior assistant prosecutor of Sormovo district of Nizhny Novgorod, Olga Gagarina, told Interfax on Thursday that the convict was sentenced to two years probation. The case was tried by special procedure.
In March, police officers arrested the "clergyman" in Nizhny Novgorod and seized from him more than two grams of heroin. He is a category 1 invalid and moves about in a wheelchair.
The detainee was Sergei Sibirin who is also known as "Hieromonk Serafim," who belongs to the Suzdal diocese of RPATs.
The so-called Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church was formed in 1994 by Valentin Rusantsov, who died in January 2012. Previously he was a cleric in the Russian Orthodox Church and then he transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia [ROCOR], from which he was expelled.
At the present time RPATs parishes in
Russia number several
dozen with no fewer than 10,000 adherents. The leader of
this organization was
notorious because of a sensational court trial in a case of
for which he was given a suspended sentence. (tr. by PDS,
posted 27 June 2013)
SORMOVO COURT CONVICTS EREMITE SERAFIM, ACCUSED OF DRUG TRAFFICKING
The Sormovo district court of Nizhny Novgorod issued a sentence against Eremite [Schemamonk] Serafim Sibirin of the community of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church (RPATs) in the city of Dzerzhinsky, who was arrested with drugs in the spring of this year, according to the investigation.
As a senior assistant prosecutor of Sormovo district of Nizhny Novgorod, Olga Gagarina, reported, who was cited on 27 June by Interfax, the convict, who is paralyzed and virtually incapable of speaking and of independent mobility, was sentenced to two years probation. The case was tried by special procedure.
According to the investigation, in March police officers seized two grams of heroin in the monk's possession.
As Portal-credo.ru reported earlier, citing a source in the chancellery of the Bishops' Synod of RPATs, Eremite Serafim, whose secular name is Sergei Sibirin, actually does belong to this church's jurisdiction, although he is not a priest, as Interfax mistakenly maintains. Rumors about his priestly rank are the result of some followers of Fr Serafim in Nizhny Novgorod claiming that he was supposedly ordained by "the secret Bishop Nikolai Guryanov," who is revered in the RPTsMP as an elder [starets], but the episcopal rank of Fr Nikolai has not been confirmed canonically.
In the opinion of Bishop of Tula and Briansk Irinarkh, of RPATs, the drugs were most likely planted on Fr Serafim. He had already been previously convicted on a similar charge and even spent some time behind bars. Supporters of Fr Serafim explain these persecutions by the fact that he is "extremely active" (from the point of view of local authorities and the RPTsMP) in social and evangelistic work that is conducted by the parish the monk leads in the city of Dzerzhinsky of Nizhny Novgorod province.
At the same time, the chancellery of the
Bishops' Synod of
RPATs points out the unacceptability of the constant use by
the editorial staff
of the Interfax-Religiia website of slanderous and known
characterizations with respect to a religious organization
that is officially
registered and protected by the laws of RF. "Claims that the
hierarch of RPATs, Metropolitan Valentin, was convicted 'on
charges of child
molestation' do not correspond to reality (Metropolitan
Valentin was acquitted
and the judgment was vacated in 2003) and they offend the
religious feelings of
adherents of RPATs, which qualifies as a crime under current
legislation." (tr. by PDS, posted 27 June 2013)
SEARCH CONDUCTED IN HOME OF MUFTI OF PENZA PROVINCE
Council of Muftis of Russia protests
The home of Islam Dashkin, the chairman of the Ecclesiastical Board of Muslims of Penza province and member of the Council of Muftis of Russia, was searched and his office equipment was confiscated.
A statement of the Council of Muftis, published on its website on Tuesday, says: "A copy of the search warrant was not presented to Mufti Islam Dashkin. The Council of Muftis of Russia is bothered by such groundless actions and it expresses its confidence that such actions will not be continued."
In the summer of 2011, a conflict arose within the Muslim community of the region. At the time Abdurrauf Zabirov was elected head of the muftiate for a term of five years. All 20 delegates who participated in the congress voted for his candidacy. However on several websites information was posted that it was not A. Zabirov who had been elected mufti but I. Dashkin, the imam-hatip of the mosque of the village of Srednyaya Elyuzan, a mufti of the region Abbas Bibarsov told an Interfax-Religiia correspondent.
He called this information a lie. He said that at the time when the event was conducted a "group of aggressively minded people who tried to disrupt the session" broke into the building where it was being held and "insulted and intimidated the mufti and imams."
A. Bibarsov stated that the group of
troublemakers was led by Mukaddas Bibarson (mufti of Saratov
and co-chairman of the Council of Muftis) and Rashit Khalikov
(mufti of Mordova) "but local officials who were supposed to
ensure the delegates' safety did not intervene in the
situation." (tr. by PDS, posted 25 June 2013)
LEADERSHIP OF PENZA MUSLIMS SUBJECTED TO SEARCHES
Today in Srednyaya Elyuzan searches were conducted at the homes of the mufti of the region, imams of mosques, and activists of the local community. The search operations involving OMON special troops were conducted by personnel of the Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee of RF for Penza province within the framework of a case which had been previously filed against Ali-hazrat Yakupov, a hafiz of the Quran [one who has memorized the entire Quran—tr.] and imam-hatyp of the "Makhallya No. 44" mosque of the village of Srednyaya Elyuzan.
We recall that the imam was arrested on 21 June while he was traveling to an international competition of reciters of the Quran in Malaysia. Now the hafiz of Elyuzan is in an investigation isolation cell in Penza.
As Rifat-hazrat, imam-muhtasib of Gordishchensk district, told Ansar.ru, personnel of the Investigative Committee conducted a search in his home for two hours. "They behaved quite property; they searched for prohibited items, including literature, in the house and yard," Rifat-hazrat emphasized, and he added that he has never had anything illegal. According to the imam-muhtasib, all the time that the operational activities were going on, a truck with armed OMON troops stood near his house.
"We imams are patriots of our country; we value the traditions of our people and we urge people to do good. We participate in state holidays and honor veterans of the Great Patriotic War. My grandfathers shed their blood and fell in the field of battle for the sake of the welfare and peace of the Russian land.
"Today the village is one of the best in the country: the birthrate is greater than the death rate, and hardworking people live here. Moreover, thanks to the work of the imams and their educational activity, a revival of spiritual and moral values is occurring in Elyuzan. We often receive letters and words of gratitude from fellow villagers, whose husbands have stopped drinking alcoholic beverages, whose children have changed their behavior, and whose families have become stronger.
"However, after today's 'special operation,' when searches were conducted in homes of imams who allegedly are some kind of criminals, and armed OMON personnel patrolled near their houses, a negative residue remains in the community," Rifat-hazrat expresses his opinion regarding the operational measures in Srednyaya Elyuzan. He said such actions by law enforcement agencies cannot facilitate the consolidation of society.
As Ansar.ru has learned, the outcome of the search in the home of the chairman of the Ecclesiastical Board of Muslims for Penza province, Islyam-hazrat Dashkin, was the confiscation of his personal photography equipment and tablet computer. However the Penza mufti was not even given a copy of the search warrant. (tr. by PDS, posted 25 June 2013)
COUNCIL OF MUFTIS DISOWNS IMAM OF PENZA PROVINCE SUSPECTED OF EXTREMISM
The "Makhallya No. 44" Islamic community in the village of Srednyaya Elyuzan, Penza oblast, which is led by Imam Ali Yakupov, who is suspected of extremism, is not associated with the Council of Muftis of Russia. "The 'Makhallya No. 44' mosque does not have anything to do with the Council of Muftis of Russia; it is within the jurisdiction of the Central Ecclesiastical Board of Muslims," the press service of the Council of Muftis told an Interfax-Religiia correspondent.
As was reported, Ali Yakupov was arrested by law enforcement agencies on suspicion of extremism. The arrest was conducted at a time when the imam was traveling to an international competition of reciters of the Quran in Malaysia.
A. Yakupov worked earlier in the Ecclesiastical Board of Muslims of Nizhny Novgorod province (a part of the Council of Muftis of Russia) and he moved to Penza province in 2012. After that he established contacts with representatives of the Central Ecclesiastical Board of Muslims, after taking over administration of the "Makhallya No. 44" mosque.
Ali Yakupov then made several attempts to transfer this parish into the jurisdiction of the Council of Muftis, but this was prevented by parishioners. Nevertheless, he traveled to the international competition in Malaysia representing the Council of Muftis, which was reported on the website of a member of the council of the Ecclesiastical Board of Muslims of the European Part of Russia. (tr. by PDS, posted 25 June 2013)
IMAM OF COUNCIL OF MUFTIS ARRESTED IN PENZA ON SUSPICION OF INCITING STRIFE
Personnel of the UBOL [Directorate for combating organized crime] arrested Hafiz of the Quran Ali Yakupov, imam-hatib of the "Makhallya No. 44" mosque of the village of Srednyaya Elyuzan, Penza province (within the jurisdiction of the Council of Muftis of Russia).
The arrest was conducted at the time when Yakupov was traveling to an international competition of reciters of the Quran in Malaysia, the Ansar.ru website reports.
The imam was charged in a criminal case on article 282 of the Criminal Code of RF (inciting enmity or strife along with disrespect for human dignity) on the basis of statements to law enforcement agencies from resident of the Gorodishchensk district. In them it is said that in the spring of this year the imam allegedly called for the extermination of Jews and the establishment of the rule of Islam in the land of Palestine.
He is now in an investigation isolation cell in Penza. (tr. by PDS, posted 25 June 2013)
ASTRAKHAN AUTHORITIES PROHIBIT PUPILS TO DISPLAY RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION IN CLOTHING
Region also creates expert council for combating religious radicals
Authorities of Astrakhan province have introduced a ban on wearing in schools clothing that emphasizes religious affiliation, Governor Alexander Zhilkin declared at a session of the ethno-confessional council.
"There will be no discussions. From 1 September there will not be any kind of nonstandard clothing in the schools and educational institutions of the territory. Take this to representatives of all ethnic groups. . . . This is policy, and discussion is unacceptable. If someone has a contrary point of view—the selection of countries is large," he said.
In December 2012 it was reported that because of the appearance of instances of wearing hijabs in schools the authorities of Astrakhan province had recommended to municipal authorities the introduction of a dress code or uniform in educational institutions.
A. Zhilkin noted that the responsibility for maintaining stability in inter-religious relations in the region is borne by representatives of the ethnic communities and religious societies along with the government. "Besides secular educational work that we must conduct, there is a parallel function—the monitoring of and strict reaction with respect to radicals. Both the secular authorities and public leaders and the ministers of religions will be held to account. You are not here by accident; you [leaders of national communities and leaders of religions attending this conference—"IF"] bear responsibility together with the government," he stated.
In his turn, regional Minister of Education and Science Vitaly Gutman told Interfax that in September a provincial law will be introduced into the duma requiring the wearing of uniforms and "until the adoption of the law, displaying all visible evidences of religious affiliation is forbidden by an order from the Ministry of Education and Science of Astrakhan province."
At the session of the ethno-confessional
council, A. Zhilkin also reported that the region will create
a Council on Information Policy in connection with the
publication of information of extremist contents in news media
and social networks. "We must not forget that we are a secular
state, and Russia will be going along this path despite
whatever our enemies are attempting, who are trying to
destabilize the situation. . . . Some are beginning to seduce
and are trying to say that the foundations of our traditional
religions are incorrect and they are trying to propose their
vision of everyday wear, especially for women, and they are
duping boys and girls and dragging them into the ranks of
militant organizations, and parents are receiving the corpses.
As for all who want to live differently, there are many states
in the world, and we suggest that they move there," he stated.
(tr. by PDS, posted 24 June 2013)
DRAFT LAW FOR STRENGTHENING CRIMINAL LIABILITY FOR EXTREMISM INTRODUCED IN STATE DUMA
On Saturday the government sent to the State Duma a draft law that strengthens criminal liability for crimes connected with extremist activity and inciting enmity or strife.
An explanatory note added to the document says that the draft law was worked out in accordance with orders from the president and government aiming at neutralizing the threat to national security connected with destructive activity of a number of religious organizations on the territory of Russia.
It is proposed to strengthen criminal liability for crimes foreseen by articles 280 (public calls for extremism), 282 (inciting enmity or strife or disrespect for human dignity), 282.1 (organizing an extremist community) and 282.2 (planning the activity of an extremist organization) of the Criminal Code.
Thus, the draft law proposes stiffening the sanctions of part 1 of article 28: the fine now will consist of 100 thousand to 300 thousand rubles (at present it is simply up to 300 thousand) and incarceration will be able to be for four years (at present, three years). According to article 282 the term of forced labor is increased from two to four years and the fine will consist from 300 thousand to 500 thousand rubles (at present it is from 300 thousand to 500 thousand).
The explanatory note says that it is proposed to increase fines in practically all categories of the above cited articles.
In addition, terms of incarceration and forced labor will be increased for public calls for extremism; for public incitement of enmity or strife, including through news media; and for organizing and participating in an extremist community or other organization (including a public or religious association) which a court has banned for extremism.
The explanatory note says: "The proposed
changes are predicated on the fact that the struggle with
crimes of an extremist nature that are especially dangerous
for society and the state is one of the priority tasks of the
Russian state at the current stage." (tr. by PDS, posted 24
PRIKHODKO TO OVERSEE RELATIONS OF GOVERNMENT WITH RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS
New distribution of responsibility among vice-premiers of the Russian federation has been posted on the government's website, as a result of the resignation in May of this year of Vladislav Surkov.
Thus Sergei Prikhodko, who replaced V. Surkov in the office of vice-premier and chief of staff of the government, will be engaged in the coordination of the work of federal agencies of executive authority connected with development and implementation of policy in the sphere of news media. S. Prikhodko's responsibilities include also issues of relations with religious organizations and organs of judicial authority and prosecutors and state policy in the sphere of justice.
In a period of Prikhodko's absence,
questions assigned to him in accordance with the distribution
of responsibilities will be overseen by Arkadii Dvorkovich. In
his turn, A. Dvorkovich will oversee state policy in the area
of innovation and information technology, in addition to the
responsibilities he had previously. (tr. by PDS, posted 24
MILITANTS IN DAGESTAN ATTACK IMAM'S FAMILY; ONE OF THEM KILLED
In the village of Kakhabroso, Untsukul district, Dagestan, three unidentified persons launched an armed attack on the household of Imam Magomed Abdullaev on Sunday night.
The cleric resides in a home with his wife and minor son. According to preliminary information, the bandits tried to kidnap the imam in order to subsequently murder him away from the site, for his religious convictions, Interfax was told at the information center of the National Antiterrorist Committee (NAK).
M. Abdullaev preaches ideas of traditional Islam and he has previously received threats often from members of the Gimry Diversionary Terrorist Group.
"Displaying courage and endurance, the imam, with the support of his son, was able to put up effective resistance to the bandits until fellow villagers came to his aid. During the ensuing exchange of fire one of the attackerbos was killed and two managed to escape," the information center reported.
As a result of the attack, the wife and son of the cleric received wounds of varying degrees of seriousness. At the present time they are in a hospital.
The slain bandit was identified as a resident of the village of Gimry, Untsukul district, Magomedkhabib Abdulaev (b. 1985). According to information from NAK, he was an active member of the Gimry bandit group and participated in criminal actions conducted by the group and he functioned as the personal bodyguard of its leader.
Republican intelligence services and law enforcement agencies are conducting a thorough examination of the scene of the incident and a search for the hiding bandits has been organized. (tr. by PDS, posted 24 June 2013)