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Russia Religion News Current News Items

Government may pay for printing religious literature


Religious organizations ask government to also produce religious literature through subsidy program           

Izvestiia, 31 January 2014


The Federal Agency for the Press and Mass Communications is preparing an order "On confirming rules for providing subsidies from the federal budget for publication of socially significant literature within framework of 'Culture of Russia' (2012-2018)." The Russian Orthodox Church and the Council of Muftis of Russia are interested in a new system of support for socially significant literature and they are preparing applications requesting state subsidy for publication of religious literature.


New rules of state support of publication of social literature are being introduced within the framework of a federal target program "Culture of Russia" for 2012-2018. Rospechat will be responsible for receiving applications for state support and distribution of subsidies.


"We are now preparing an order about the rules for subsidy, which will come out in the near future. In addition, an expert commission will be formed in our ministry which will deal with the applications for receiving subsidies for the publication of specified literature," Liudmila Kuznets, the head of the Department for Support of Book Publishing and Publications of Rospechat, told Izvestiia. "As of now there is no definite list of literature whose publication will receive state support. We will accept applications and we will then study them and issue our decisions."


According to Kuznets, any legal entity may submit an application, with the exception of governmental and municipal institutions.


The Council of Muftis of Russia was one of the first to express a desire to receive state support for the publication of socially significant literature. As reported at the council, they are preparing to produce a new Russian translation of the Quran in a massive edition.


"Support of socially significant literature is a quite proper and useful step. We are ready to send an application from the muftiate in order to receive such support. We are now preparing a large scale and very important project for translation of the Quran into the Russian language. Until now there have existed only authors' translation, but it is necessary, especially in order to prevent inter-ethnic conflict, that there be a united translation accepted by both Muslims and Christians," thinks the vice-chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia, Rushan Abbiasov. "At the present time, consultations are under way on wording in the book, and in the future we plan publication of the Quran in a large edition. Thus state support will be very useful for us.


The vice-chairman of the publishing council of the Russian Orthodox Church, Father Valentin Timakov, reported that they also are devoting every effort for obtaining state investment in the publication of Orthodox literature.


"This idea has been hanging in the air for a long time. They have finally decided to implement it, and we certainly will participate in application for gaining subsidies. Many publishing houses of the Moscow patriarchate will be happy to receive these resources for publishing books," Timakov noted. "Especially since both religious and other social literature is, from an economic point of view, marginally profitable and needs these subsidies. The state understands that this money will go to the enlightenment of society, which we very much need.


The owner of the MIF publishing company, Mikhail Ivanov, thinks that the new rules will permit placement of necessary books on the bookshelf. "There is a mass of books that have enormous significance for society, but without state support for these editions they simply will not survive. Now the main question is how will the government determine which literature is socially significant," the publisher noted. "This is a question not only of content but of whom these books are destined for. There are books in Braille script for blind children which, undoubtedly, should be recognized as socially significant. Subsidies for socially significant literature is not the only governmental instrument for saving the domestic publishing industry. Early in January it was reported that the Ministry of Culture is developing amendments to federal law "On protecting competition." The ministry of Vladimir Medinskii is planning to offer for rent on favorable terms facilities of the institutions subordinate to it for opening private book stores. (tr by PDS, posted 1 February 2014)

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Teachers protesting gay activity leaving seminary


IA Regnum, 31 January 2014


The scandal regarding homosexual harassment in the Kazan Ecclesiastical Seminary has led to the point where the departure of teachers from it has begun. Mariia Novak, a docent and kandidat of philology, left the seminary, declaring that she "cannot work any longer in an academic institution where such violence is committed against children." This was reported to IA Regnum by a source in the Tatarstan metropolia of RPTsMP.


At the seminary itself, they refused to talk with an IA Regnum correspondent, immediately hanging up the telephone. Information on the website of the Kazan seminary shows that Maria Novak is one of the leading specialists in Church Slavonic language in Tatarstan. She worked in the seminary as a docent in the department of philology and was awarded the order of St. Equal-of-the-Apostles Olga, third degree.


The IA Regnum correspondent also has learned that Mariia Novak is not the only teacher to be dismissed from the Kazan seminary. Before her, for the same reason, Valery Matrosov left, who had taught comparative theology in the department of theology and philosophy, and who, according to the acknowledgement of seminarians, enjoyed respect and authority.


According to information from the source, now in line for dismissal from KDS is Docent Anatoly Eldashev, who has sharply condemned homosexual practice in this academic institution and who, in addition, participated in a round table "Where does the threat to Orthodoxy in Tatarstan come from," conducted by the rights advocacy center of the World Russian National Sobor in Moscow.


IA Regnum is prepared to give the official commentary of the press service of the Kazan Ecclesiastical Seminary and the Tatarstan metropolia of RPTsMP regarding the dismissal of teachers that has begun and is planned. (tr. by PDS, posted 1 February 2014)

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Orthodox church greets Olympics visitors



In the prelude to the Olympiad Patriarch Kirill will perform a prayer service in the church of the Image of Christ the Savior Not-Made-By-Hand in Sochi, the head of the patriarchal press service, Deacon Alexander Volkov, reported.


"I confirm that on the eve of the Olympiad it is expected that His Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus Kirill will visit the church in Sochi. We will report more details about the schedule of the visit supplementally," RIA Novosti quotes the words of Alexander Volkov.


News media have reported that the patriarch wll serve a prayer service in Sochi on 5 February.


We recall that the church of the Image of Christ the Savior Not-Made-By-Hand, which is already popularly called the "Olympic church," was built at the entrance to Olympics Park. Its consecration was held on 3 January, and the first service was conducted on Christmas. (tr. by PDS, posted 1 February 2014)



More than 100 volunteers and clergymen will perform round-the-clock duty in three inter-confessional centers of the Olympic village in Sochi during Games-2014, the director of the secretariat of the Inter-religious Council of Russia, priest Roman Bogdasarov, told RIA Novosti in an interview.


At the same time, there will not be any mass, regular worship services, nor religious propaganda, he reported. Father Roman explained that the rules of the International Olympic Committee require the organizers of the Olympiad to provide believing athletes and guests of the competitions the opportunity for prayer. Worship facilities for adherents of the five largest world religions—Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism—will function in each of the Olympic clusters.


The Inter-religious Council of Russia participated in the planning of the prayer rooms and preparation of work with believers. (tr. by PDS, posted 1 February 2014)

Related article: Putin arrives in Sochi for Christmas service

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Kuraev posts another interview



by Elena Skvortsova


--Literally a few days ago you met with the girls from Pussy Riot who had been released. So you had a talk with them and looked them in the eye. Did you learn anything new about them for yourself?


--I will answer with what from the point of view of a Christian is probably a banality: any person is more interesting than he seems. More profound, more diverse than his image or the mask that he is wearing.


This meeting was necessary. There are some things that, once begun, must be finished; otherwise they will gnaw at you and eventually turn into an ulcer. Way back, on the day of their action, I said that if I were the rector of the church, I would call them in for a tea party. I would converse with them, instead of calling the police. But at the time it was impossible for me to talk with the girls: at first they disappeared and it was impossible to find them anywhere, and then they were arrested.


Now we had a meeting, as I promised. They invited me to this meeting and I did not have the right to refuse. And then, the invitation was nevertheless from the media, from a magazine, and in the event of my refusal, it would have landed in the Internet. Then the whole blogosphere would be seething: even Kuraev refuses to meet them. And there would be a regular wave against the whole church: pharisees, inquisitors, and the like. I simply did not have the possibility of making any other choice.


My third argument was this: Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is a student of the philosophy department in which I have taught for 20 years now. So that it would be unprofessional for me to refuse such a conversation.


And the final argument in favor of a meeting: the point is that I did not agree with their action. But while they were in prison I did not have the right to criticize them. It is wrong to conduct a polemic with a person who has a gag in her mouth and whose hands are tied. So I have the right to disagree with them only if they have the same freedom that I have.


--So for you it is both that it should be and there was no choice. Pretty much the same as in the case of Kazan. You published revelations on your blog and then you said: it was a mistake; I thought that once a commission of the patriarchate was sent to Kazan, then the policy of the church had been directed to cleansing and I wanted to help the commission. That is, you were prepared to fight the gay lobby in the church only in the event that the patriarch led this struggle?


--Well you see, even after I understood that the commission to Kazan did not signify that the changes I dreamed about had begun in Moscow, I did not leave the topic. The patriarchate maintained a two-week pause. It could have chosen from four possibilities:  1) maintain silence, 2) begin a struggle for the moral cleansing of the church, 3) punish both me and homosexual bishops "symmetrically," 4) open fire only on me as the one who violated the conspiracy of silence. After the 15-minute television statement of Fr. Chaplin that I am scum and deserved to be thrown out of the church it became clear that the version had been chosen that was worst for the future of the church. The passion for vengeance turned out to be higher than for reason.


--In any case it seems to me they were late to speak; after all there has been no official reaction of RPTs to the Kazan story.


--That's no big deal. If there will be real actions for cleansing the church space it is never too late (not from extraneous voices but from people who walk the brink of crime and perhaps have even gone beyond that brink). Therefore I insist: the story has still not concluded; this is only the prologue.


As to the ostrich position. Many people now are demanding from me details and names. But, excuse me, I do not have confidence that a serious objective and independent investigation has begun. The ones who victimized the seminarians remain in place, they have not been removed, and they have fine ties with the local police and with whomever they please. And what will happen if I name my witnesses (for me their letters are not anonymous; I know these people)? What will happen in the future with these boys? I have no confidence that the legal machinery of the church court has been debugged well enough that it will work automatically regardless of the person. Moreover, the rules of the working of the church court provide just the opposite: it works in accordance with the will of the bishops.


And finally. I cannot in any way be the declarer. After all, I am not a witness nor a victim. People trusted me, and how can I violate their freedom and drag them into court, if they themselves are not prepared for this now, in these conditions? Incidentally, I would like to know two things that are entirely formal. Why is it now that the commission went (the complaint that they considered was submitted in 2010); what was it responding to? And how far did the report of the head of this commission, Fr. Maksim Kozlov, go; on whose desk did it land? Did it reach the patriarch?


--Apparently now, if the patriarch had not seen the report, he is wondering where it is? Once this scandal has come out. But does it seem as if they have taken you to court in Kazan?


--Not yet. I actually asked in my blog whether I could deliver to the court the letters with the names of those who complained, but that was a form of self-defense. One must understand that today the church is an institution that is quite outside the law. In the sense that legal thinking does not exist in our bishops and their associates ("I am the prince" and that’s all). And therefore their first reaction is to crush. Since I am not in the dioceses of the bishops in question, it is important for them to get to me. And that is easier to do where everything is under control—through the church court. And I warned about this approach by asking them publicly: are you yourselves ready to meet these boys who are saying unpleasant things about you? And the answer is silence. As soon as I said that my informers are prepared to go to court, as witnesses in the defense of my side, they immediately stopped threatening me with the court.


--You have always been a bit of a dissident in RPTs. At least you have that reputation. Now, after the revelations, has the situation in the church become uncomfortable for you?


--On the contrary. Very comfortable. I have not felt so good in many years. In the first place, I know that very many fine folk are praying for me. Both priests and bishops, all the way to hermits in the mountains of Abkhazia. Because the current situation has reached everybody in the church. Therefore I feel a kind of dome of protecting grace over me. I now have the conviction as never before in life: what I am doing now is right. That is important.


Second. A kind of corporate bond has fallen away from me. I did not talk about everything in years past since I felt an inner (not official) duty to try as best I could to interpret the actions of the patriarchate in the best light and to defend it. Now they have told me: that's not necessary. Fine. That means I am a free man. And for a man of my stock (an ordinary Muscovite city intellectual) this is very convenient: to be a kind of free radical. In the chemistry sense of this word, not political.


--In that case the boundary between faith and the church as an institution is clearly visible. Is it there for you?


--No. I have said much on this topic, and I wrote little books back in the 1990s, that I just do not believe the notion of an invisible church uniting good souls. For me nevertheless the Christian faith and the church (including its incarnation in the apparatus of the Moscow patriarchate) are quite nearly the same things.


--You told the girls from PR that in their case, it is the church as an institution that showed itself in a bad light. But you know in the story of Kazan it is the same….


--There isn't anything strange. We have returned to the time of the middle ages, in the sense that everything is transparent; everything is on view. And people have not turned away from God, even seeing the disorders of both priests, and their bishop, and boyars and the prince. Today we are again living on view, like in a large village. This is what the Internet has made us. It means that it is necessary to learn to live in a glass house, as it always was in any village where everybody knows everything about one another.


But in those times, knowing the shortcomings of priests, people were able to distinguish their attitude toward them. Adam Olearius, a Germany scholar traveling in Russia in the 1630s, wrote about a priest's cap: "Priests never take off this cap during the day. It is a sacred thing. If someone beats a priest and hits the cap, or if he does something so that the cap falls to the group, he is subject to severe penalty. Never the less, they still beat priests. In order to spare the sacred cap, it is first removed from the priest, and then he is given a good beating, and the hat is neatly put back on him."


--And you are ready to take the cap off of the Moscow patriarchate?


--No, I am not conducting a struggle against the institution, but for people. For revelations about the patriarchate, Fr. Chaplin's statements are quite sufficient.


--That is, you are not ready to head up a movement for cleansing church ranks?


--You underestimate the strength of my laziness. I do not want anything.  I do not even want to head up the department in the university. I am not a public figure, not a leader. That is completely not my role. And I will not be that now.


--But at the same time you are acting like a leader. You should offer yourself on that account.


--These are my pen, my tongue, my head. But I do not have organizational talents. I know my shortcomings. For example, I will not be able to be an Olympic champion. Even in curling.


--No one expects that of you.


--Then why do you suggest that I become a public leader?


--Because you have been expressing ideas that demand to be put into action.


--Actually I would first wish for actions on the part of the patriarch. He answers to God and to the people for our church.


--The metropolitan of Kazan harshly scolded the seminarians after the departure of the RPTs commission. In his words there was not a shadow of remorse. . . .


--Not even close.


--He felt immune from punishment. Although he was responsible for the situation that developed. Is it likely that he will be punished?


--He could be. But the punishment that I foresee, at a maximum, is simply dismissal into retirement with all honors, etc., with a full treasury that he himself will steal from the diocese. You also should understand this: all these metropolitans, if they are fired, they quickly sell all the cars and real property that they can. And they deposit in their personal bank account. And they will live out the century peacefully as millionaires and buy boys, if they need them. Everything will be chocolate for them, even in retirement.


--And for you? Do you expect some kind of sanctions against yourself?


--I do not know. I am already on a pension. I serve in church, but as an adjunct and I do not receive a salary in the church. There I am a deacon, a volunteer. That is, it is very difficult to punish me. Therefore the only thing that could be is to deprive me of clerical rank.


--You once said that the church of the soviet period, the church of persecution, was closer to you. It was the church that you came to. Today the church is punitive to a great extent, and that is not close to you. To what extent, in your view, is RPTs prepared to change in order to cleanse itself from its problems and become that church that you would like to see?


--Many people say today: I was not baptized into that church. There is truth in those words. Others accuse me: you are hanging out dirty linen. Where did I hang it out? We are accustomed (this has only been confirmed for us in recent years): the church is nationwide; all our people are Orthodox. Thus I appealed to the Orthodox people. I said what I see and hear, not only now but in the years of my travels about the country and conversations with priests. Yes, many priests want cleansing very much. Because these homosexual stories are only a small part of an enormous problem. You see, any sexual coercion, sexual slavery is a manifestation of general despotism. It is a kind of manifestation of serfdom, existing in the church. Now this is really a nightmare. Why has the church, a Christian organization in the 21st century, begun living according to the principles of serfdom?


The bishops have placed an equal sign: the church, it is we. And, what is worst, it is exploiting the most sacred human feeling, the feeling of faith, the desire to serve God and people. But they tell you: you cannot do this if you do not obey me. And this is terrible blackmail—not for money but for your soul. For example, a priest invests his whole soul and faith sincerely in his ministry, and they say to him: put the cross on the table if you will not do such-and-such.


In essence, the church higher-ups exist in a legal vacuum. They do not acknowledge any rules for themselves in dealing with their subordinates. This pertains also to relations of the patriarchate with regional bishops. And bishops with rectors. And rectors with clerical staff. And so on down to parishioners. The higher-ups do not recognize the rights of the lower ranks and their human dignity. It is terrible. Any higher level absolutely isolates itself from pressure and criticism from below.


But I know that in the history of the church it has been worse. Maybe not with regard to the spread of homosexuality among bishops. But that is not the only sin. Also greed, venality, corruption—all of this has existed in the history of the church.


--But it has never been that the church was completely cleansed from all of this.


--At least, it was like this: the church has passed from century to century. And some problems have been cleansed. For example, corruption. It was never the less very much strangled in the Russian empire with the help of the state apparatus and chief procurators. It was a victory of regulations over former feudal arbitrariness. Or in soviet times, it was much less. But again that was because the church was under external control. So that some paths to healing are quite clear.


But, by the way, it was in the 1960s that the light-blue lobby began to take shape in the RPTs. The soviet regime was very pleased with this topic (after all it was possible to hold a gay priest very tight on the hook of a criminal article). And it helped that cancer to grow, and by the end the gay lobby had managed to occupy key positions in the church.


--But there has not been a soviet regime for more than 20 years now. What prevented Patriarch Alexis from cleaning out this mess?


--I am not prepared to answer that now.


--It turns out that even a patriarch does not have the power to displace this lobby


--Has power, doesn't have power; wants to, doesn't want to—I do not know. The fact is, in the past 20 years it has grown.


--But you will agree, the gay scandals are not the only problem of RPTs. There's the business of the church, and all the rest.  And the flock—a substantial portion of which (at least you hear these calls) is striving to punish nearly everybody who, as they think, are hurting believers' feelings?


--That really was a very unwise decision of the patriarchate. Because you cannot turn hamburger back to meat. Once people have gotten the go-ahead, "you have the right to hate," then it is extremely difficult to rescind that right. The patriarchate essentially gave to these prayer vigil demonstrators the go-ahead for "righteous hatred." This is a horrible thing. And it will remain in history.


But there is a third way to cleanse the church. This is not external administration in the person of chief procurators or the KGB, but, so to speak "All power to the soviets!" That is, give to parishioners, church people, the opportunity to make decisions on questions involving their own church.


--But as you yourself said, today's church people are to a great etent a militant people, for whom rituals are more important than substance?


--Our society has seriously changed. Including the church society. Now the patriarch has correctly insisted that one should baptize people only after their catechesis (i.e. their acquaintance with the Christian faith). If this really were consistently realized, the situation would be changed. And then, even if bit by bit, the parish will be able to decide a number of questions itself. And it is necessary that the circle of the authority of the parishioners gradually expands.


And today, thanks to this story of the Kazan seminarians, the RPTs has a unique chance. The church can increase its authority incredibly. Because if people see that it is capable of honestly facing its problems and discussing them and resolving. . .


--But judging by everything, it is hardly capable. After all there were such possibilities: when various scandals were rumbling:  nanodust, the story of the watch, the PR girls and their trial, and now the Kazan story. . . .


--Let's return to this topic on 1 February. On that day, the fifth anniversary of the enthronement of the patriarch, all bishops of the Russian church will descend on Moscow. As a rule, in these days (a remarkable tradition appearing under Patriarch Kirill) in the odd-numbered years a sobor is held, and in the even-numbered years, a bishops' conference is held (in essence this is the same thing only without such a noisy title and necessary decisions). I think the patriarch will not limit himself to a simple reception. I suggest that there will be another closed corporate conversation. It seems to me that this is a splendid opportunity for him to voice his position and to call for something. For what, I do not know; I am not the patriarch. Obviously something will be said in the closed session. And something in an open one. Therefore we will wait. But the situation today is such that it is necessary to respond not in words but in actions. (tr. by PDS, posted 31 January 2014)


Russian original posted on, 30 January 2014

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Patriarchal spokesman opposes homosexual life outside church but not within



RPTsMP will not compromise and it will not cease calling same-sex marriage, adoption of children by homosexual parents, and surrogate motherhood sin. This was declared on 31 January by the head of the synod's Informational Department of the Moscow patriarchate, Vladimir Legoida, in an interview with RIA Novosti.


To a journalist's question whether in future RPTsMP may make a compromise, Legoida answered with a quotation from the second letter of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians: "What fellowship has righteousness with iniquity? What does light have in common with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial?" (2 Cor.6.14-15).


The creation of conditions for "the least recognition of sin," Legoida said, is disastrous not only for the church but also for society. "Alas, the 'ideological' proponents of the struggle against traditional family values will not rest until the last page where it is written that sodomy is sin has been ripped out of sacred scripture," he said.


There can be no talk about some compromise with "antichristian ideology," since in several western European countries, Legoida noted, people have been subjected to "persecution" simply for calling homosexuality sin. He added that it is possible to treat the sinner with understanding, but not the sin.


In an interview devoted to the fifth anniversary of the enthronement of Patriarch Kirill, Legoida also said that the church and state should relate to one another as the soul to the body of a person, and critics of church life cannot improve it through searching for and

publicly disclosing the mistakes and sins of others. "At the same time, I believe that among the critics there really are those who sincerely wish to make church life better. But if the main instrument is an easy chair in front of a screen with an Internet blog, then, alas, such a desire is hardly likely to bear fruit," Legoida said.


Late in December 2013 Archdeacon Andrei Kuraev, who had been dismissed from the Moscow Ecclesiastical Academy, described in his blog the existence in RPTsMP of a "light-blue lobby" and incidents of sexual violence of its representatives against young people who depend upon them. It is this lobby, in Kuraev's opinion, that tried to hush up a scandal in a Kazan seminary, where a prorector hegumen was accused of corrupting seminarians, and later facilitated his dismissal. In response, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin called the archdeacon to repent for his statements about a "light-blue lobby."


Patriarch Kirill, whom Kuraev thinks is well informed about the "light-blue lobby," previously explained the struggle by RPTsMP against legalization of same-sex marriage as the nature of Christianity, and the legalization of gay unions in other countries as an apocalyptic sign. In 2012 the Moscow patriarchate adopted a circular in which same-sex marriage is named among "false values of aggressive liberalism" advanced by "antichurch forces." (tr. by PDS, posted 31 January 2014)

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Putin dismisses Orthodox church's position on homosexuals


Religiia v Ukraine, 31 January 2014


Russian President Vladimir Putin in an interview given to a number of Russian and foreign television channels responded affirmatively to a request of a journalist asking him to confirm that he "is a genuine liberal and maintains liberal views."


Commenting on the criticism heard in the west of a law prohibiting propaganda of homosexuality among minors, Putin called the critics to first resolve the problems "in their own house." "But how can they criticize us for our more—to put it mildly—liberal approach to these problems than exists in their own house?" the president declared, adding that in some states of USA there exist criminal liability for homosexuality. It should be noted that at the present in 14 states of USA laws directed against homosexuals have not been rescinded, although in 2003 their implementation was prohibited by the Supreme Court of USA.


Putin also expressed the opinion that the law prohibiting propaganda of homosexuality "does not harm anybody." He said that homosexuals in Russia "are not discriminated against in any way, neither in their professional identity nor in career development nor in recognition on the part of society." Putin also cited the example of Elton John, who in Russia "is loved sincerely, despite his orientation."


The president also stated that he is not surprised by the position of the Russian Orthodox Church, which is proposing to introduce criminal liability for homosexuality. Such a harsh attitude toward same-sex love is characteristic of practically all traditional religions. At the same time Putin emphasized that in Russia the church is separated from the state, whose actions do not depend upon the opinion of RPTs.


The president of RF also added that homosexuals who are planning to attend the Olympiad in Sochi may not fear anything, emphasizing that in Russia all people are equal "regardless of their religion, sex, ethnic identity, or sexual orientation." (tr. by PDS, posted 31 January 2014)

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Rights watchdog speaks in favor of Jehovah's Witnesses


He thinks the term "totalitarian sect" illegal

Interfax-Religiia, 30 January 2014


The plenipotentiary for human rights, Vladimir Lukin, has asked the governor of Murmansk province, Marina Kovtun, not to permit violations of the rights of representatives of the regional division of Jehovah's Witnesses.


He is disturbed by the appearance in news media of a letter over the signature of the vice-governor in which Jehovah's Witnesses are called a totalitarian sect and which contains recommendations to heads of municipal offices of the province to promptly inform law enforcement officials about events of the Jehovists, in order to prevent their "destructive activity."


"I consider that the consequences to which the implementation of the orders of said letter may lead are fraught with gross and widespread violations of the rights of citizens on the territory of Murmansk province, and in view of this it should be withdrawn as a violation of the standards and principles of the constitution of the Russian federation and federal legislation," the ombudsmen's letter, sent to heads of the region, says, which was distributed by the press service of V. Lukin.


He recalled that any normative legal acts touching on rights, freedoms, and human obligations may not be adopted if they are not published officially for general information, and rights and freedoms may be restricted only by law and only for purposes of protecting the foundations of the constitutional order, morality, health, rights and legal interests of other persons, and guaranteeing the defense of the country and security of the state.


"The vice-governor's letter does not cite any incidents or circumstances that provide evidence of the existence of such enumerated indicators in the activity of the Jehovah's Witnesses religious organization, which is unreasonably categorized as a 'totalitarian sect,'" V. Lukin declared.


He pointed out that Jehovah's Witnesses are "recognized by law and operate legally as a Russian religious organization, and their adherents are citizens of the Russian federation, whose rights may not be arbitrarily restricted by reason of their worldview choice and membership in one or another church."


In V. Lukin's opinion, activity for increasing the number of adherents of the Jehovah's Witnesses are legal and may not be in any way categorized as criminal actions of extremism.


The ombudsmen thinks that such terms as "destructive," and "totalitarian sect" are incorrect and impermissible in public statements of officials and in official publications of governmental agencies. (tr. by PDS, posted 30 January 2014)

Related article:

Jehovah's Witnesses ask court for protection
December 27, 2013

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Ukrainian president finds time to show favor to Moscow patriarchate


Interfax-Religiia, 29 January 2014


Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich yesterday venerated the Gifts of the Magi, which are in the cathedral of the Dormition of the Kiev caves lavra from 24 to 30 January.


As the press service of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church reports, the head of state was accompanied by Metropolitan of Borispol and Brovary Antony, the manager of affairs of UPTs.


Along with the president, the shrine was venerated by Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka, the head of the Kiev provincial administration, Anatoly Prisizhniuk, and other officials. (tr. by PDS, posted 29 January 2014)



Religiia v Ukraine, 29 January 2014


President Viktor Yanukovich, the prosecutor general of Ukraine, and the head of the Kiev provincial administration on Tuesday venerated the Gifts of the Mari, which were brought from Greece to the Kiev caves lavra. Organizers of the reliquary's stay expect that a squad of troops of the "Berkut" riot police will be brought to the Gifts of the Magi, a correspondent of the portal Religiia v Ukraine reports.


As the press service of UPTs reports, the head of state was accompanied by Metropolitan of Borispol and Brovary Antony, the manager of affairs of UPTs. [. . .]


The Religiia v Ukraine correspondent reports that on 27 January organizers of the stay of the reliquary expected that a squad of "Berkut" troops would be brought to the Gifts of the Magi. There was such an agreement, although there is still no information about whether "Berkut" would arrive. Judging by the absence on the websites of UPTs and MVD of reports about a pilgrimage by representatives of the police, the latter have still not visited the reliquary.


The Gifts of the Magi have been in Ukraine for veneration since 24January, although they still have drawn few pilgrims.


We recall that experts deny the authenticity of the reliquary that was brought from Greece, dating its creation to the 15th and 16th centuries. In particular, restorer Vladimir Sarabianov, a member of the patriarchal Council on Culture, declared: "The Gifts of the Magi is not a cultural, but a religious, object. They are not something manufactured or produced but are substances: gold, incense, and myrrh. Therefore to treat the Gifts of the Magi as an artifact is incorrect. Why are people ready to stand in line with children and strollers for them? People simply need something to venerate, and some do not think very much about what it is they are venerating." (tr. by PDS, posted 29 January 2014)


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Kuraev and patriarch agree on gay marriage


He suggests they use "Orc language" for this

Interfax-Religiia, 29 January 2014


Sexual minorities should not privatize the concept of "family" but find a different word to designate their unions, Archdeacon Andrei Kuraev thinks. "Why are these advocates for a homosexual alternative lifestyle trying to distort our language? Why are they eager to turn the meaning of the word 'family' inside out? Is it really impossible to leave their traditional meanings for the words 'marriage' and 'family' as the union of a man and a woman, whose supreme meaning is in the birth of new life?" the archdeacon writes in his blog.


"Would we call a football team the Academy of Sciences and a symphony orchestra a task force of the Ministry of Emergency Situations? Homosexuals want to call their unions by some term; let them think it up themselves. We can point them to some word from the ancient language of the Orcs," the blogger suggested.


The author thinks that the law reserves the right to adopt children exclusively for families "and how homosexuals inherit their slimy property for one another hardly concerns us."


Yesterday Patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus Kirill, speaking in the Federation Council during his first visit for all time in the upper chamber of parliament, called for halting on the governmental level attempts to change Russian legislation that recognizes marriage as a union of a man and a woman. "In response to the wide spread international discussion on this matter, we decisively declare that marriage is a union of a man and a woman, based on love and mutual understanding, for the procreation of children," the patriarch said to applause from the audience. (tr. by PDS, posted 29 January 2014)

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