Appeal rescues Salvation Army's literature but not the organization itself



The decision of a magistrate judge of the Lenin district of Vladivostok concerning the destruction of the Bible, New Testament, and other religious literature that was discovered in the local congregation of the Salvation Army was overturned on 30 December by the Lenin district court of the city, the press service of the Russian Associated Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith reports.


The decision on the destruction of the Sacred Scripture of Christians was adopted in execution of the "Yarovaya Law" on 20 December by a magistrate judge of judicial district No. 4 of the city of Vladivostok. This verdict, which was reported by first among news media, called forth a stormy reaction in society, and representatives of the clergy of various confessions spoke out in condemnation of this court decision. In particular, the head of the legal service of the Moscow patriarchate, Hegumena Kseniia Chernega, noted that "the very fact of the destruction of the Bible, even as a judicial sanction, offends the religious feelings of believing citizens."


The ruling bishop of the Russian Associated Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith (Pentecostals) and member of the Public Chamber of the RF, Sergei Riakovsky, sent to a deputy of the prosecutor general of the RF, Viktor Grin, a special appeal in which he wrote specifically: "As a member of the Public Chamber of the Russian federation and a member of the Council on Cooperation with Religious Organizations of the presidential administration of the Russian federation, as well as a profoundly believing person who defends and protects believers' rights, I cannot but react to this decision of the court, inasmuch as it directly affects believers' feelings. In accordance with provisions of the Russian federal law 'On combating extremist activity,' the Bible and its contents and quotations from it cannot be ruled to be extremist materials. In addition, the standards of the Code of Administrative Violations of Law and the federal law 'On freedom of conscience and religious associations' do not provide for the destruction of religious literature that lacks identifying markings. On the basis of the foregoing, I ask you to protect believers' rights that have been violated and do not permit the destruction of the Bible."


The prosecutor issued a protest against the decision of the magistrate judge and the court of the second instance eliminated from the judgment portion of the ruling the requirement of destruction of the literature and printed materials, although it left in force the requirement of their confiscation and the conclusion finding the organization guilty of conducting administrative violations of law that incriminated it. (tr. by PDS, posted 3 January 2017)

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