Court orders Salvation Army's literature destroyed


Pravoslavie i Mir, 28 December 2016


The head of the legal service of the Moscow patriarchate, Hegumena Kseniia Chernega, called a court's decision for the destruction of 40 copies of the Bible and of other religious literature of the Salvation Army a "great overreach."


This situation "evokes concern" she told the newspaper Vedomosti. "Roughly speaking, an organization is being punished with the destruction of the Bible for illegal missionary activity—not for terrorist or extremist activity," Hegumena Kseniia declared in commenting on the decision of a court that ordered the destruction of the Bible and other books because they did not have identification markings as required by the law on freedom of conscience.


The hegumena said that the Russian Orthodox Church interprets part 3 of article 17 of the law on freedom of conscience differently. According to the law, literature, printed, audio, and video materials produced by a religious organization, and also materials distributed within the framework of conducting missionary activity in its name, must have identifying markings with the official complete denomination of said religious organization.


"If the publisher of the literature being distributed is the 'Salvation Army,' then it must have identifying marking, but if it is an outside publisher, then the marking is not needed," Kseniia Chernega said. She noted that "the court used an incorrect interpretation."


Previously, Pravmir reported that the court of the Lenin district of Vladivostok issued a decision to destroy religious literature of the Christian organization Salvation Army. The list for destruction included Bibles in the Synodal translation, the New Testament in the Synodal translation, and collections of sacred songs (in Russian and English languages).


The court found the organization guilty of committing administrative violations of law under part 2 of article 5.26 of the Code of Administrative Violations of Law of the Russian federation. It set the punishment in the form of a fine of the sum of 30,000 rubles. At the same time, the court gave to the directorate of court bailiffs for the Primorie territory control over the destruction of the above enumerated literature.


The head of the Salvation Army in Russia, Alexander Khorkov, declared that the court's decision is "blasphemous." He said, "to confiscate and to destroy books is nonsense." (tr. by PDS, posted 3 January 2017)



SOVA Center for News and Analysis, 27 December 2016


A court in Vladivostok fined the religious Christian organization of the Salvation Army for possession of religious literature without identifying markings and ordered to confiscate and destroy texts of the Bible in Russian and English translations.


On 20 December 2016 a magistrate court in the Lenin district of Vladivostok found the religious Christian organization of the Salvation Army guilty under part 3 of article 5.26 of the Code of Administrative Violations of Law (conduct by a religious organization of activity without displaying its full official denomination, including production or distribution within the framework of missionary activity of literature without identifying markings showing the denomination or with incomplete or deliberately false identification) and it fined it 30,000 rubles and ordered the confiscation and destruction of religious literature of the Salvation Army that did not have appropriate identifying marking.


The prosecutor of the Lenin district, who on 23 November 2016 discovered during an inspection in the premises of the Salvation Army literature "without the identifying marking of the religious organization," filed suit in the court. Among other things, this literature included the Bible in the Synodal translation, the Bible in English translation, and the New Testament.


The court issued an order to destroy the Bible (36 copies), songbooks (35 copies), the Bible in the English language (4 copies), brochures (11 copies), Herald of Salvation (74 copies), the Holy Gospel (1 copy), Christian hymns (9 copies), Christian books ("The Sacred Book," 88 copies), collections of religious verses (42 copies), and collections of religious songs (9 copies). Responsibility for fulfilling the court's decision was entrusted to court bailiffs.


It should be recalled also that there is a law in effect in Russia prohibiting the finding of sacred scriptures and excerpts from them to be extremist.


The decision regarding the unjustified destruction of a sacred text of Christians seems to us to be inappropriate and in violation of Russian legislation. (tr. by PDS, posted 3 January 2017)

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