Protestant pastor fined for conducting regular worship


by Vladimir Ozolin

Religiia i pravo, 22 May 2019


On 4 May 2019, a judge of the Maikop city court of the republic of Adygea, M.I. Katbambetov, issued an order by which the pastor of the local religious organization of the Word of Life Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith (Pentecostals) of the city of Maikop, Yu.Kh. Dachev, was found guilty of committing an administrative offense established under part 2 of article 20.2 of the Code of the Russian Federation of Administrative Violations of Law (organizing or conducting a public event without submitting in established form notification about holding a public event) and was subject to a fine of 20,000 rubles.


In fact, the pastor was fined for conducting a worship service in premises specifically designated for these purposes, but at the same time he did not notify the local administration about a public event.


Without a doubt, this order is illegal. Article 16 of the federal law "On freedom of conscience and religious associations" provides that worship services and other religious rituals and ceremonies are conducted without hindrance, among other places, in buildings and structures granted to them on another property right for conducting their charter activity, and also on land on which such buildings and structures are located.


At the same time, this article provides that in other circumstances, public worship services and other religious rituals and ceremonies (including liturgical and religious meetings), occurring in public places in conditions that require taking measures aimed at ensuring public order and safety of both participants in religious rituals and ceremonies and also other citizens, are conducted according to the procedure established for holding rallies, processions, and demonstrations.


The decision about whether taking such measures is required should be made immediately by the leadership of the religious organization and upon it will depend whether to submit notification or not.


Since holding him administratively accountable in this case is unreasonable, we have already filed an appeal in the Supreme Court of the republic of Adygea, where it will be considered soon.


However, if the higher judicial instance leaves the order in force, it will be necessary for every religious organization of any confession to file the pertinent notification before conducting every worship service, religious ritual, and ceremony, and every religious event will occur under the protection (read "control") of the police. (tr. by PDS, posted 23 May 2019)

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