Protestant church fined because of inadequate signs


Religiia i Pravo, 29 August 2017


We are continuing to describe the unprecedented witch hunt of the Pentecostal church. Everything that has happened in the last eight months of 2017 with respect to the "Jesus Christ" Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith (KhVE) of the city of Nizhny Tagil leads to the thought that the constitution of the Russian federation and laws signed by the president do not bear an official character and are not obligatory for application and enforcement in the constituent elements [subjects]. We have previously written about two court cases against the Jesus Christ Church of KhVE of the city of Nizhny Tagil, where on 14 April the church was fined 80,000 rubles, but everything did not end with this.


On 26 April 2017 on the territory of the actual location of the Jesus Christ Church of the city of Nizhny Tagil, a security guard discovered the presence of unidentified persons who were making a video. It turned out that in this group of "visitors" there was an assistant prosecutor of the Tagilstroy district of the city of Nizhny Tagil. The suggestion of leaving a note in the journal of inspections was refused, with the assurance that this was not an inspection. But on 28 April 2017 it was learned that the prosecutor's office of Tagilstroy district of Nizhny Tagil, on the orders of the prosecutor's office of Sverdlovsk province of 15 January 2017 regarding the Jesus Christ Church of KhVE of Nizhny Tagil, an inspection was conducted regarding compliance with the legislation on freedom of conscience and on combating extremist activity. The church's presbyter, Evgeny Krauze, was not informed about said inspection.


During the so-called "inspection" the prosecutor's office discovered that on the entrance door of the building in which the church rents several offices there was no sign with the complete name of the church. Actually there is a sign, but it is located inside the building on a second door, but the inspectors were not convinced of its existence since they did not enter the building.


The building in which the church conducts worship services is an office center in which, besides the church, are located another six different organizations. Both in the prosecutor's office and in the court, these facts were clearly commented upon. Representatives of organizations located in the aforesaid building were witnesses in the trial.


The witnesses confirmed the fact that signs were hanging on offices within the building, indicating which organization works in which office. The witnesses also confirmed that the premises in which the church is located are marked with fixed signs. The judge did not take these explanations into account.


The church's attorney noted in court that the law does not contain requirements about the placing of a sign on the fa├žade of a building and he called attention to the fact that on one office building there do not hang signs of all organizations located within it. He also called attention to the fact that the director of the organization that owns the building prohibited hanging out signs of these organizations on the central door. But the judge also did not take these explanations into account.


As a result, on 14 June a magistrate judge of judicial district No. 3 of the Tagilstroy district fined the church 30,000 rubles on the basis of part 3 of article 5.26 of the Code of Administrative Violations of Law. Considering that before this the church was fined 80,000, it turns out that it must pay a fine of 110,000 rubles.


Perhaps there may be persons who will be able to answer the questions that arise: why did the prosecutor's office "put the squeeze" on a protestant church? Why do they treat with prejudice refutations of all accusations? When will this prosecutorial excess cease? Why do they fine an organization that has to its account an enormous number of good works, which were noted in letters of thanks from representatives of the government of the city of Nizhny Tagil?


On 30 August 2017, the decision of the court regarding the 30,000 ruble fine imposed on the church will be reviewed in the court of second instance. One very much hopes that this time justice with blindfolded eyes and weights on the scales will weigh everything correctly.


History recalls the era of witch hunts, which, like any other historical phenomenon, should not be studied abstractly apart from the general historical story line. But it is necessary to recall the background against which the mass hysteria of persecution of witches developed. Witches were persecuted as a kind of phantom "enemy within" along with other outcasts, primarily Jews and lepers. Inquisitorial courts lit bonfires and quartered and tortured to death people who brought light to science, art, and the social life of that time. And often this was done on the advice of interested parties, those who did not do anything themselves. The present situation that has developed around the "Jesus Christ" Church recalls those hard times.  (tr. by PDS, posted 30 August 2017)

Postscript:  On 30 August 2017, the Tagilstroy district court of Nizhny Tagil left in force the decision of the court of the first instance that fined the congregation of the Jesus Christ Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith for violation of legislation regarding freedom of conscience.  [from SOVA Center for News and Analysis, 30 August 2017] (tr. by PDS, posted 30 August 2017)

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