Copyrighted material. For private use only.  

If material is quoted, please give credit to the publication from which it came.
It is not necessary to credit this Web page. If material is transmitted electronically, please include reference to the URL,

British press defends disciplined monk

by Richard Price
The Tablet, 17 October 1998
The Orthodox Churches are traditionally tolerant of diversity, but today the Moscow Patriarchate is rowing in the opposite direction. Forward-looking clergy like Fr Martiri suffer. A lecturer at Heythrop College in London reports on his case.
OVER the last few years, rising disillusionment with the political and economic developments in Russia have been accompanied by an increasingly critical evaluation of the policy and mentality of the Moscow Patriarchate. The "cold war" that the Patriarchate has initiated on the ecumenical front and its keen promotion of a new law on freedom of conscience, which seemed to Western observers unduly restrictive (though not, it must be admitted, to most Russian ones), has been seen as evidence of the Patriarchate's opting for an ultra-conservative, nation-alistic position marked by doctrinal rigidity and hostility towards the West.

These developments have alarmed not only Western observers and the lay intelligentsia of Moscow and St Petersburg but also many clergy all over Russia who received their spiritual formation in the Soviet period, when ecumenism was promoted by the Church itself (albeit under government pressure) and Western developments such as the Second Vatican Council were followed with interest and sympathy. It is these clergy who are now under mounting pressure from newly ordained priests and bishops, formed in the more polarised climate of the 1990s, and concerned to atone for the compromises of the Church during the Soviet period by a new spirit of dogmatism and intolerance. There are plenty of people happy to listen to them; I have met ordinary Christian lay people in Moscow who resent the independent stance of the more liberal clergy, blame the Jews for the plight of Russia, and talk seriously about "Jesuit-masonic" conspiracies against the Orthodox Church.

The Patriarch and his advisers seem increasingly to ally themselves with this xenophobic wing. Private reassurances to high-placed Western visitors that any moves in this direction are purely tactical and do not express the real convictions of the hierarchy were never wholly credible and, in the increasingly frosty ecumenical climate, have now been abandoned. The prime concern of the Patriarch has not been to promote a particular church policy, however, but to hold the Church together through a strong discipline that excludes any independence of thought or action.

The most recent demonstration of this has been the extraordinarily harsh treatment dealt out to Fr Martiri Bagin, parish priest of the church of All Saints in central Moscow, and a prime example of a priest from the intelligentsia formed in the freer climate of the later Soviet period and increasingly isolated in the post-Soviet epoch. In the course of the summer a number of charges were made against him, disconcerting in their miscellaneous character and inconsequence: he was accused of accepting a nearby flat as a gift to himself rather than to the parish, of conducting unconventional services of prayers for the sick, and of failing to control the hostility of his parishioners towards a new and unsuitable curate foisted on them by the diocese. Once it became clear that the diocesan authorities intended to use these charges as a way of getting rid of him without any attempt at an impartial examination of the facts, some of his parish council invited the attention of the press and leaked documents, showing how he had been treated. Protests in his support followed, both in Russia and abroad.

On 18 August, when Fr Martiri was preparing to celebrate the Vigil of the Transfiguration, the local dean came to communicate orders from the Patriarch that he was not to serve, whereupon the dean found himself exposed to the anger and indignation of the congregation. The Patriarchate decided to interpret all this as a campaign against the Church orchestrated by Fr Martiri himself, and a new and graver charge was now brought against him, of conspiring against the Patriarch and attempting to discredit and divide the Church. To subject a priest to unsubstantiated charges and then, when his parishioners and friends protest, to make these protests the grounds for accusing him of undermining the Church is, surely, a degree of injustice hard to equal.

At this point, in an attempt to defuse the situation, Fr Martiri offered to resign from the parish. This pacific gesture failed to avert the determination of the Patriarchate to condemn him formally, as a way of deterring any other independent spirits among the Moscow clergy. On 15 September the Patriarch signed a ukase (decree) which condemned Fr Martiri for misappropriating church property (by accepting the gift of a flat that had in fact never belonged to the Church) and accused him of violating the canons of the early ecumenical councils against priests or monks who conspire against their bishops. In the same document the Patriarch accepted Fr Martiri's resignation, and added a penalty of "temporary" suspension from any exercise of his priesthood. The ukase concluded with an explicit threat that, if he continued his "slanderous activity", he would be subjected to the full rigours of ecclesiastical discipline. In other words, he is forbidden to defend himself.

 The real reasons for such persecution, suspected from the beginning, became increasingly clear as the controversy deepened. First, Fr Martiri is regarded by his superiors as disloyal to Orthodoxy in the way he has cultivated friendly relations with Western Christians, Anglican and Catholic. He has repeatedly expressed the view that Christianity in other cultures suitably takes different forms and is not to be attacked as heretical; he once quoted to me the saying of Fr Alexander Men's that "the divisions between the Churches do not reach up to heaven". At the same time, however, the spirituality he has promoted in his own parish has been solidly Orthodox, without any admixture of Western elements except in so far as tolerance and the acceptance of diversity seem Western heresies to some of his compatriots. Over the last five years I have myself given a number of talks to Fr Martiri's parishioners; the subjects, chosen by my hosts, were themes from the spirituality of the Fathers of the Church, and never controversial. Cardinal Hume has visited his parish and maintained contact, and wrote to the Patriarch this summer, expressing admiration for Fr Martiri's work and hope that it would continue.

The other, and most serious, reason for the dissatisfaction with Fr Martiri on the part of the church hierarchy has been his independence. He has not, in the sycophantic manner of his more prudent colleagues, sought the guidance of his ecclesiastical superiors on every possible occasion. Under his leadership his parish council refused to obey instructions to submit a public petition in favour of last year's law on freedom of conscience, which imposes potentially severe restrictions on the activities of non-established Christian denominations in Russia. Fr Martiri steered clear of the liturgical innovations that brought down the wrath of the hierarchy on Fr Kochetkov (another priest recently suspended) and is less open to Western influences than Fr Borisov (the leading "liberal" priest still tolerated); nevertheless, he has shown that he has a mind of his own. This is precisely his offence:  not that he has manifestly deviated from Orthodox faith and practice, but that he is not at the beck and call of his superiors.

A priest in St Petersburg recently lamented that, while Russian lay people enjoy the freedom to express their own convictions, the clergy can do nothing of the kind since they are "soldiers in an army". At a recent meeting of the Moscow clergy, the Patriarch said to them unambiguously and brutally: "Whoever of the clergy dares to think differently than I do will be subjected to ecclesiastical censure and canonical suspension." It is even a matter for criticism if a churchman does not instinctively anticipate the wishes of the Patriarch: at the last meeting of Fr Martiri's parish council the representative of the diocese told its members, "You ought to feel the throb of the will of His Holiness the Patriarch." Such language seems to take us back to the culture of Stalinism. What is the likely effect of the removal of Fr Martiri from the church of All Saints? The great Russian tradition of spiritual fatherhood means that Russian Christians are fiercely loyal to their own priests. When Fr Kochetkov was removed from his parish a year ago, most of his large congregation did not transfer to another parish--even to one similar in stance and style --but simply became unchurched. The same is likely to happen to the spiritual children of Fr Martiri. The Patriarchate's indifference to their future is even more breathtaking than its severity towards Fr Martiri himself.

What can now be done to protect other Russian parishes which share Fr Martiri's outlook from suppression in their turn? The Moscow Patriarchate does not seek the approval of the West, but like the Russian Government it cannot wholly ignore Western opinion. If the need to secure loans from the International Monetary Fund inhibits the new Russian Government from entirely abandoning the economic policy of its predecessors, so the Patriarchate can be influenced through its pocket. The decision of the Orthodox Churches not to withdraw from the World Council of Churches but to attend its coming assembly in Harare without playing any active part was probably motivated by fear of losing Western funding. It may be suggested that Western Christian charities should apply a policy of requiring basic Christian values of decency and toleration from Churches which appeal for aid.

Also, Western Christians who are keen to help the Russian Church should show a greater concern over the type of Christianity they are assisting. They should not seek to Westernise Eastern Christendom, but to promote what is the authentic spirit of Orthodoxy, traditionally more tolerant of diversity, more inclined to accommodation, and more able to assimilate external influences than Rome or Geneva. All Western Christians with a lively concern for the well-being of Orthodoxy should ask themselves what they can do to help ensure that it is the spirit of Fr Martiri, not the spirit of the present Russian hierarchy, that prevails in the Russian Church of the twenty-first century.

(posted 16 November 1998)

Russian antisemitism


Uproar over remarks suggest many blame Jews for misfortunes
by Will Englund
Baltimore Sun, 16 November 1998

MOSCOW -- After three months of economic collapse and do-nothing government, the political frustrations and resentments here have found a focus at last, and it's the age-old one. Russians call it the Jewish Question

   The virulently anti-Semitic remarks of Albert Makashov, a Communist member of parliament, have driven wedges between allies, set factions against each other, and launched an overtly political struggle between the Communist Party and what it regards as the rich man's press

   The scandal dominated the newspapers and television all last week and shows no signs of going away, as prosecutors in the coming days will seek to strip Makashov of his parliamentary immunity

   It began with comments that would be unthinkable in the West. But it has become more than a simple controversy over the attacks by Makashov, a retired general, on the "yids." It has become the pretext for the first serious political fight here since the installation of the new government after the financial avalanche of August and September

  "In fact this wave of discussion has only the slightest connection to Jews," said Vladimir N. Oivin of the Glasnost Public Foundation. "It is a very convenient moment to show the real face of current Russian Communists.

   In a series of speeches last month, Makashov called for Jews to be rounded up and thrown in prison. He defined the "zhid" -- the derogatory word in Russian for Jew -- as "the ravager, the bloodsucker feeding on the misfortunes of other people.

    "I am a Russian general," he said. "When I see what the cosmopolitans are doing with my Motherland it makes my blood boil. The little devils `got me' with their threats in connection with the events of October 1993 [when Makashov helped lead a bloody and unsuccessful parliamentary uprising against President Boris N. Yeltsin]. I said that even after I died I would take at least a dozen yids with me to the great beyond. An eye for an eye!

    Even while tapping into a long Russian and Soviet tradition of anti-Semitism, Makashov was giving voice to an ever-growing anger about what has happened to Russia this decade and about the so-called financial oligarchs -- only some of whom are Jewish -- who appear to have enriched themselves at others' expense

   The liberals in parliament paid him little heed at first. But two deputies -- the ardently nationalist filmmaker Stanislav Govorukhin and the Jewish crooner with reputed criminal ties, Iosif Kobzon -- stepped forward and asked the parliament to censure Makashov

  On Nov. 4, Communists in the lower house of parliament, or Duma, defeated the motion, even though two leading members of the party, speaker Gennady Seleznyov and Deputy Prime Minister Yuri D. Maslyukov, were critical of Makashov

  Vladimir V. Zhirinovsky, the Russian-nationalist son of a Jewish father, took Makashov's side. "He doesn't go to the Canary Islands for his vacations and the Jews do," Zhirinovsky said. "They're rich. So they have good compensation for their suffering. The Jewish people are very talented, but it's necessary to approach this talent with caution, because it can be used against us.

  The Duma vote set the wheels spinning, and when an unrepentant Makashov reiterated his remarks four days later at an observance of the 81st anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution, the uproar was ready to take shape

  While declaring that his party supports a multi-ethnic Russia, Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov has not criticized Makashov. This has given the liberals in parliament the opportunity to denounce Communists as anti-Semites at every turn. A new motion to censure Makashov, put up this time by liberals, narrowly failed on Friday

  The press has blasted away. Communists have pointed out that two of the three television networks are controlled by Jews -- Boris A. Berezovsky and Vladimir Gusinsky. When the party called for a government board to oversee the networks and a greater number of ethnic Russian newscasters, the attacks were stepped up

  The editor of the extremist newspaper Zavtra, Alexander Prochanov, was quoted in the Russian daily newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda Friday as saying that the attacks on the Communists were attempts at revenge by the liberals, after their fall from power in August

  At first glance, the Communists would seem to be in a weak position over this issue

  "If Zyuganov had distanced himself immediately, it would be forgotten already," said Andrei Piontkovsky, an analyst with the Center for Strategic Studies. "But the problem is not Makashov, the problem is the Communist Party and the fights within the Communist Party.

  The party is already in agony over its inability to capitalize on the economic downfall -- because it has been too closely tied to the government of Prime Minister Yevgeny M. Primakov. And as much as Zyuganov would like to present himself to the world as a modern socialist politician, he would rather brazen this one out, Piontkovsky said, than risk a total rupture over Makashov

   Already, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who was flirting with the Communists just a month ago but who has long been an outspoken defender of the Jewish community, has denounced Makashov and, for the time being at least, destroyed any hopes of a leftist alliance

   But the Communists may have calculated that, in the long run, anti-Semitism is a profitable strategy -- though, as Piontkovsky said, they would never admit it publicly

   "What was said, was said by a Communist deputy," pointed out Mark Kupovetsky, executive director of biblical and Judaic studies at the Russian Humanitarian State University. "There's no doubt that similar views are widespread among the functionaries of that party -- they always have been.

   In the Soviet era, anti-Semitism was expressed in legitimate form as anti-Zionism, he said. "Makashov is just a product of this system," he said

"He did violate the rules of the game -- he went too far. Certain taboos were violated. But the Communist Party didn't deal with this matter because a considerable part of the electorate shares the same views.

    A poll released last week showed that 34 percent of Muscovites -- who are more liberal and Western-oriented than Russians as a whole -- support limits on the number of Jews in high-ranking posts. Sixty-four percent said they would not want a Jewish president

   Kupovetsky said he believes earlier polls, which have shown a fairly low level of anti-Semitism here, reflected the unwillingness of many Russians to admit their true feelings. Now, he said, the Makashov scandal is encouraging them to become more vocal

   He disagrees with the argument that this is more about politics than ethnicity. Assimilated Jews who don't think of themselves as Jewish, he said, are once more confronting the fact that everyone else here does

c.  Baltimore Sun

from Johnson's Russia List

(posted 16 November 1998)

11 November 1998
[translation for personal use only]

  The scandal over [Duma] deputy [Albert] Makashov's anti-semitic statements continued to grow today.  Deputy General Albert Makashov called for the introduction of quotas on the number of citizens of Jewish nationality appointed to official positions.

 In an interview with Italian newspaper La Stampa, Makashov said Jews' representation should be limited by law.  He said six million people live in Israel, of which one million are Arabs, but not one minister is an Arab.

 Also, he said 85 percent of the population of Russia are Russians.  They should be represented accordingly. Makashov does not know modern Israeli history very well and has completely forgotten the history of Germany which, after Hitler came to power, was the only country in the world ever to introduce official quotas on the representation of Jews in bodies of power. And everybody knows what came after that.

 Our correspondent today asked Makashov to comment on his interview with the Italian newspaper, and comment was given. Correspondent Pavel Lobkov reports:

 [Begin recording] [Lobkov] General Makashov was apparently encouraged by the limp reaction by the State Duma and Communist faction to his anti-semitic statements.  Moreover, it inspired him to new legislative exploits. Today he called for a law setting a percentage quota on the number of Jews in Russia's senior governing bodies.  World experience of anti-semitism shows that this is usually followed by a proposal for the final resolution of the Jewish issue.

 This is the electronic version of today's La Stampa.  The percentage of Jews in the government should correspond to the percentage in society, and this should be enshrined in law -- that is Makashov's main idea.  Having written this in her notebook, La Stampa correspondent Anna Zafesova was somewhat taken aback.

  [Zafesova] I was actually stunned when he said this, simply because I asked him if there was a Jewish question in Russia.  He said:  Judge for yourself.  Our government is full of Jews, and so on.  He said what can we do about this -- some kind of legislative measures.
  [Makashov] I do not speak Italian.
  [Lobkov] But nevertheless you talked about proportional representation
of Jews...
  [Makashov, interrupting] Go [words indistinct].
  [Lobkov] No, you talked about...
  [Makashov, interrupting and raising voice] Go away.
  [Lobkov] Did you talk about this or not?
  [Makashov] Can you get away from me?
  [Lobkov] You said this, it was published...
  [Makashov, interrupting] What has it got to do with you?  It is my
personal matter.  You want a scandal, you'll get one now.
  [Lobkov] What scandal?  This is a criminal matter.  It is anti-
  [Makashov, grabbing article from Lobkov] I'll show you some anti-
semitism now.  I am still of a good age.
  [Lobkov] As you see, in the heat of his rage the general even
destroyed the printout from the innocent La Stampa.
  [Makashov] I said that Russia is 85 percent -- step away from me
please -- 85 percent of the population is Russian, and when they are less
than one percent of the government and provacateurs like you are at work,
you know, you could harm your Jewish people.
  [Lobkov] I am not a member of the Jewish people.
  [Makashov] You are worse, do you understand?  Then you are one of
those Russians like Gorbachev, who for me is worse than a Jew.
  [Lobkov] Russian people will be watching you and listening to what you
are saying now, so they will be interested to know how you will decide who
is a Jew and who is not, according to the law.
  [Makashov] You are behaving yourself worse than the worst yid [zhid].
  [Lobkov] Thank you Albert Ivanovich.
  [Makashov] You understand?  Worse than the worst yid.  That is a
definition given by Pushkin, Dostoyevskiy, and Gogol.
  [Lobkov] From your lips that is a compliment.
  [Lobkov] But later Makashov realized he would not get away without
commenting.  When lots more correspondents arrived, Makashov's reflex
activity fell sharply:
  [Makashov, talking to correspondents] One race has grabbed everything
in our country -- that is not right.  This is not at all incitment of
racial hatred, it is just a wish to comprehend.
  [Lobkov] The reaction of senior Communist officials was interesting.
They declined to comment and were unusually reticent. Gennadiy Seleznev
answered questions obviously unwillingly:
  [Seleznev, Russian State Duma Speaker] There will be a statement
today.  As far as I know the presidium is preparing a statement.
  [Unidentified correspondent] What is it about?
  [Seleznev] About what you were asking me about.
  [Unidentified correspondent] Condemning this?
  [Seleznev] Of course.
  [Unidentified correspondent] Gennadiy Zyuganov refused to talk about
Makashov at all.
  [Unidentified correspondent] Gennadiy Andreyevich, reviving the
principle of quotas...
  [Zyuganov, Russian Communist Party leader] Again, are there any
questions on the youth movement?
  [Unidentified correspondent] Is nobody interested in the youth?
  [Zyuganov] You are not interested in the youth?
  [Unidentified correspondent] We heard you out...
  [Zyuganov] Thank you, thank you.  We have no more time.  I will not
[words indistinct]
  [Vladimir Ivanenko, Yabloko deputy] Makashov is a man who seems to me
to have specific health problems, so it is difficult to do anything with
him.  The problem is something else, that his faction is not distancing
itself from him, that the Communist Party is not stating clearly that these
totally unbelievable views should not be possible at the end of the 20th
century. If someone wants to introduce proportional representation, then
these cranks should only be let into the State Duma according to quotas.
  [Lobkov] If it recognizes Makashov as one of its own, the Communist
Party faction must now decide what is dearer: voters or Makashov.  It looks
like the choice will be difficult, since Makashov's anti-semitic views are
backed in the party's ranks. Nevertheless, there will be a decision today,
or the faction will share responsibility and they will get the label of the
Chernosotentsiy [nationalist organization of tsarist times] [end recording]
  [video shows Lobkov talking to Makashov; Makashov and other politicians
talking to correspondents]

from Johnson's Russia List

Moscow, Nov 11 (Interfax) -- Fifty-one percent of the residents of Russia's capital were aggravated by the anti-Semitic remarks that the State Duma lawmaker from the Russian Communist Party, Albert Makashov, made at rallies in Moscow and Samara in early October.

 The figures about the public's opinion of Makashov were made available to Interfax by the All-Russia Center for the Public Opinion Study on Wednesday [11 November] following a poll among an estimated 1,509 Muscovites on November 7-9.

 Fifteen percent of the poll's participants approved of the remarks while 24% heard nothing about them.

 The retired general's pronouncements evoked no special feelings among  6% of the respondents while 4% were at a loss for comment.

 Thirty percent of those polled believe Makashov must be criminally persecuted for what he said,  29% feel he should be left in peace and  17% were undecided on whether the nationalist should be brought to criminal justice or not.

 from Johnson's Russia List

(posted 18 November 1998)

Gleb Yakunin hasn't disappeared

by Angela Orestova
Ekspress khronika, 9 November 1998

The Public Committee for the Defense of Freedom of Conscience appealed to Russian Prime Minister Evgeny Primakov requesting that religious organizations be deprived of tax privileges connected with business activity and that strict controls over the flow of financial means through the Moscow patriarchate be set. The committee's declaration alleges that the Russian Orthodox church is participating in petroleum, alcohol, tobacco, and rental business, thereby undermining the authority of Orthodoxy in Russian society. Referring to the supposed recent conflict between the president of Russia and all-Russian Patriarch Alexis II the president of the committee, Gleb Yakunin, expressed at a press conference on 4 November the hope that the influence of RPTs upon representatives of the Russian government will sharply diminish in the near future. At present, in Yakunin's opinion, the powers that be bind their hopes with the electoral campaign force of the patriarch's words. For this reason there are such warm relations between the government and RPTs. However the real influence of the church on the political orientation of the population, in Yakunin's view, is not so great and the elections are not far off. Gleb Yakunin considers that the contemporary RPTs, created on Stalin's authorization in 1943, does not deserve the especially respectful attitude from the tax agencies and entire society. It merely represents a political and commercial organization which pretends to be the church founded by Prince Vladimir in Kievan Rus. A description of the recent history of the church and an indictment of it is the subject of a collection of articles and documents, "Cross and Hammer," published recently by the Committee for the Defense of Freedom of Conscience with the blessing of Archbishop Nikon of the True Orthodox (catacomb) church. "The Russian Orthodox church has become a kind of religious Gazprom [petroleum production industry]," concludes Gleb Yakunin, whom the leadership of RPTs deprived of his clerical rank for propaganda of church reform. "It could play an important role in the moral and ethical cleansing of society, but it has preferred to enrich itself." (tr. by PDS)

(posted 14 November 1998)

Confronting antisemitism

by Anna Dolgov

.c The Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) -- Less than a decade after it abolished Soviet-era discrimination against Jews, Russia is dealing with an ugly spate of grass-roots anti- Semitism.

Many prominent Russians have denounced recent anti-Semitic slurs by a Communist lawmaker, but a poll released Thursday indicated 64 percent of Russians do not want to see a Jew as president.

Israeli Ambassador Zvi Magen met with Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov on Thursday to protest attacks by lawmaker Albert Makashov.

``These remarks are an insult and a challenge to the entire nation,'' Magen said after the meeting, the Interfax news agency reported.

He said Zyuganov denounced the slurs -- the first time he has done so since the uproar began last month.

``We consider Makashov's statements inappropriate, unrestrained and incorrect,'' Zyuganov later told reporters.

``The basis of our policy is friendship and respect for a man of any nationality, and this policy will be pursued by the party continuously and firmly,'' Zyuganov said. ``We won't allow anybody to push our country to internecine war.''

The Communist leader has made similar proclamations before -- meanwhile asserting in his writings that Jews control the world's economic systems and marching side-by-side with his overtly anti-Semitic allies during demonstrations.

Russia has a history of discriminating against Jews dating to czarist times, and the Soviet government imposed restrictions on Jewish culture, job advancement and university education. The discrimination, based more on ethnicity than religion, prompted waves of Russian Jews to emigrate.

Since the Soviet-era restrictions were lifted, anti-Semitic feelings have remained widespread, if muted. But they have been spilling out since Russia plunged into its latest economic troubles.

In speeches last month, Makashov, a retired general, blamed the country's problems on ``zhidy,'' or ``yids,'' a derogatory term for Jews.

Communists in parliament blocked a resolution condemning Makashov's comments. Several of his party colleagues defended him in speeches last weekend celebrating the 81st anniversary of the 1917 Russian revolution, which brought the Communist Party to power.

Makashov was at it again this week, telling the Italian newspaper La Stampa that he wants quotas introduced on the number of Jews in Russia's state organizations.

Zyuganov refused to comment on the call for quotas.

Several prominent Russian businessmen and politicians have called for banning the Communist Party because it would not censure Makashov.

Yet in a poll of 1,500 Moscow residents carried out by the independent All- Russian Public Opinion Research Center, 64 percent said they would not approve of a Jew as Russian president.

Some 21 percent said they would approve, and 15 percent were undecided, according to the poll, conducted over the past few days and published Thursday by the daily Kommersant. It gave no margin of error.

President Boris Yeltsin scolded his government Thursday for a slow response to ``ethnic and political extremism'' and urged Prosecutor General Yuri Skuratov and other law enforcement officials to be more resolute in combating ethnic extremism, the Kremlin said in a statement.

``We can't allow extremists to throw the nation into chaos and social upheavals,'' Yeltsin said.

Skuratov's office has launched an investigation into Makashov's remarks.

Statements that ``incite ethnic strife'' are punishable under Russia's post- Soviet constitution, but few people have been punished for making such remarks.

Besides, Makashov has immunity as a lawmaker. If authorities try to waive it, his colleagues in parliament are likely to block the move.

(courtesy of Ray Prigodich)

Moskovskii komsomolets, 11 November 1998

Deputies try the role of Black Hundreds.

Following the mass media, leaders of our country's culture have decided to comment upon Makashov's statement. It turns out from the comment that the general displayed "bad manners." So, before that he was a completely will mannered comrade. With you! Has the secret come out? Even though it was well known prevsiously that what Ziuganov thinks, Makashov speaks.

The left-brown duma majority decided not to offend the general. Not to remove his immunity or anything else. They did not even censure him. Indeed, for what would one censure him? For the most part the duma is all alike (Iosif Kobzon, Stanislav Govorukhin and the Yabloko faction should not take offense). One of the communist deputies generally declared that since, according to him, there supposedly are in Siberia "very strong antisemitic attitudes, then this event swirling about what deputy Makashov said would be like pouring gasoline on the embers of a fire that already has burned out." Who is doing the pouring? Where? Some kind of "they"? And the people's deputy was hardly able to get out the word "swirling" and he contracted it greatly.

The deputy's logic turns the idea on its head. According to it, the deputy's logic, one should not talk about antisemites so that antisemitism will not advance. That's saying that if you don't name the illness, it will go away by itself.

And the general himself is strutting about after such strong support. He is giving out autographs and interviews. My colleagues from TV-6 invited him to appear on the program. Like a hero, so to speak. And Makashov, clearly, has showed himself.

"What was it, just a mention of a single Jew [I am quoting literally so that you can see the style, if you can call it that; the style of a general--M.D.] The word "zhid" was said. "Zhid" in my opinion--and you all will agree with me now--is not a nationality; it is a profession--a loan shark, a banker, a blood-sucker, and swindler. That's how we understand that word. So do you want to dig deeper."

Where is deeper? There is no deeper. It says in the dictionary of the Russian language, inter alia: "Zhid--pejorative, vulgar name of a Jew."

However, dictionaries are not for Makashov. He has his own supply of dictionaries. From the gateway.

"So at the demonstration were you talking about literary concepts or about real people?" asked the speaker.

"I was talking about the people who today are sucking the blood from the Russian nation. Their names? Take the list of those in the government since 1992 and up to the present. They are all blood-suckers."

Consequently, Masliukov and Kulik are also zhids.

"The deputy always expressed what his constituents say. If he were to talk otherwise, they would not keep him. Listen to what they are saying in the smoking rooms. Don't interrupt; I'll tell you! They say Gorbachev is a Russian, but for me he is a zhid because he destroyed the country and he began to destroy it with perestroika and with the current reforms. And those who today . . . well they have exposed themselves, those who signed the appeal to condemn me. They realized this [that they are zhids, M.D.]. Makashov never once used the word "Jew" [evrei, tr.]. You said that yourselves now. You made the equation between zhids and Jews. Don't be zhids and nobody will call you that."

So it becomes clear that the general is not about to change to another party--the nationalist or national socialist. Communists are internationalists who suit him completely: "The communist party is most in touch with the whole nation. We really are internationalists. For us, Tatars, Chuvash, Mordvins, we are all equal. As well as the Jews. We are all equal. When someone begins to put on airs, we can put him in his place."

So that's it, put him in his place: "left, right." Meanwhile Generay Makashov seems not to like the word "antisemite." "It is not correct, not academic. Jews are one of the tribes of the enormous Arabic people. I cannot be an antisemite because I am a member of the Arab-Russian Friendship society. I don't want to get into this question. I was talking about bad people. Not every Jew is a zhid and you all know this. I wasn't the first to start this. This is what they talk about at the bath, smoking room, factory, everywhere. In the market. Have you been to the market? Listen to what they say there."

Surely: if the generally really is a member, they had can't possibly be an antisemite. Stanley Kramer directed the significant film "Ship of Fools." The action occurs on a ship in the beginning of the thirties. One of the figures is a "genuine Aryan," whose mates accuse him of antisemitism. "What! How can I be antisemite?" the Aryan says in completely genuine wonder. "I love Arabs very much."

Seems to be the truth. Although this Nazi was not so educated. Because of this discovery that Jews are one of the tribes of Arabic people General Makashov should be nominated for a Nobel prize.

Of course, the general might be shocked by the comparison of him with a Nazi. What can you do. Although on the other hand there is a difference. The Germans had "ordnung." Order. For them a Jew was one who was completely or half, or at least one quarter. But if you are one eighth, you can be considered completely Aryan.

So now imagine that Comrade Makashov and his associates in the CPRF came to power. The Jewish question will be finally settled and quickly since fewer than 700,000 Jews remain in Russia. Then the associates will draw the geneological circle and consider "Jews" to the tenth degree. They won't last long. Then what? Right: they will take all the rest. As recent sad experience shows, they will not be Russians. At the same time zhids will be just as many as Makashov and his comrades need. Since for them "zhid" is a chronological term and not a substantive one. For them this definition includes everyone who disagrees with them. Actually, the general acknowledged this himself: "A bad person of any nationality is called a zhid. A Tatar always has been in Russia."

That's specific. The communists will decide who of us is "bad." There's no doubt; they will not trust anyone. And don't hope that Albert Makashov is quite rare. Just the other day another general deputy decided to speak on the national question. The former head of the security guard, Alexander Korzhakov. Here's an excerpt from his new "disclosures": "Speaking about Nayna Iosifovna. Yeltsin tells everyone that she is Russian, although the very name is suspect. In a Russian family that knows Pushkin's Ruslan and Liudmila they never would give such a name to a daughter because Nayna is an evil spirit, witch, sorceress, a supreme Zionist, so to speak. I never was able to understand Tanya [Diachenko, M.D.], how she could spend hours listening to Boris Abramovich. Just his smell turned me inside out, but she could listen to him for hours. Alas, maternal instinct. Native environment."

I don't get it: where did General Korzhakov smell Berezovsky? Perhaps readers can tell? And what an expert on Pushkin! "Supreme Zionist"--that's a fantasy that the great poet could not even have. But no one is beating the drums, as the Makashov's case. Although Korzhakov also is completely out of control. He is dense and sticky; in a word, a general. However, they both are generals. And deputies. But in the first place it is quite clear that they are real communists. (tr. by PDS)

Moscow News, 12 November 1998

In the immediate aftermath to State Duma Deputy General Albert Makashov"s violently anti-Semitic remarks made at early October rallies in Moscow and Samara and broadcast on national television, Moscow News ran a cover story holding out hope that law enforcement agencies, with the direct involvement of Prosecutor General Yuri Skuratov, were taking the necessary measures to initiate criminal proceedings against the Communist Party member.

Events of the last month have borne out the naivete of the assumption. Prosecutors have not dared ask the State Duma to lift Makashov"s immunity as a deputy, while the Duma itself failed in a vote last Wednesday to yield even half the votes required to pass a mildly-worded motion on the issue. Moreover, the very motion shifted the goalposts in a crude but effective manner, placing the emphasis not on Makashov himself or on the contents of his tirades, but on the issue of provocation of interracial tension in general.

The episode was a farce from the start, with Makashov reveling in the embarrassment that the entire scandal caused to Russia"s political elite. Absurdly, it needed Makashov himself, quoted by Interfax as saying that "an open vote is necessary as it will show the nation who governs the Russian state, " for a vote to happen at all. The result only served to bear out the general"s rhetoric: One hundred and twenty one deputies voted against the motion (83 of them, communists), 107 for.

However, probably the most striking fact of all was the number of politicians who abstained or did not consider the draft important enough to vote on, including, along with Gennady Zyuganov, a quarter of the liberal Yabloko party, whose deputy leader Sergei Ivanenko had claimed the vote to be "a vote for or against the revival of state-sponsored anti-Semitism. " But, it would seem, political wisdom and principle have been consigned to the grave, along with Makashov"s "Yids. " What could have been an opportunity for shaming an unrepentant racist, and, much more importantly, his party and its escalating authority, was passed up by politicians who should know better. One might get the impression that a genuine confrontation was avoided out of fear of upsetting a "fragile balance. " The apparent indifference registered by the absentees seems to bear witness to a mute desire to duck an issue that might cost a few votes among the dimmer sections of the public.

The Russian dailies responded in kind to this complicity the day after the vote. So on the whole it has been left to the media and the more impartial observers of the political scene to speak out in horror against the establishment"s tepid reaction to Makashov"s remarks, as testified by the open letter signed Tuesday by various cultural representatives. Moral censure is fine, but it"s a rotten political system that cannot, and will not, react to an open-and-shut criminal offense, thus firmly placing itself on the side of the offender.

(from Russian Story)

by Alastair Macdonald

MOSCOW, Nov 13 (Reuters) - A top Kremlin aide warned on Friday that ethnic tensions could break up Russia just as they undermined the Soviet Union and suggested a return to close police monitoring of political activity as a preventive measure.

As Security Council Secretary Nikolai Bordyuzha spoke to Interfax news agency, the head of the FSB security service, Vladimir Putin, said he would ask prosecutors to press charges against a leading Communist for making anti- Semitic remarks and said parliament should act to lift the deputy's immunity.

President Boris Yeltsin on Thursday ordered the government and security services to crack down on extremism in a bid to calm passions fuelled by the three-month-old economic crisis and mounting rivalries for the succession. He must retire by mid-2000 but health problems could bring that forward.

The Communist-led State Duma lower house, which last week refused to censure deputy Albert Makashov for proposing the elimination of Jews, debated motions declaring its opposition to the propagation of ethnic hatred.

But the bitter row that has convulsed Russian politics for the past week and all but eclipsed debate on economic plans and Yeltsin's absences on health grounds seemed set to continue as the Communists renewed their attacks on the media, whom they accuse of mounting the scandal to discredit the party.

Adding to the atmosphere of mounting mistrust, the business newspaper Kommersant-Daily led its front page with allegations by the prominent Jewish oil-to-media baron Boris Berezovsky that senior FSB officials secretly allied with communist and nationalist extremists had conspired to assassinate him. Berezovsky, who also holds political office and has played a role in securing the release of hostages from rebel Chechnya, called at the weekend for the Communist Party to be banned outright after it failed to distance itself from Makashov.

The Communist leadership, which has belatedly described his statements as ``inappropriate and incorrect,'' has turned its fire on the media, especially state-owned ORT television, in which Berezovsky has an influential stake, and commercial NTV, which is owned by the president of the Russian Jewish Congress. ORT aired an item on its main nightly news programme on Thursday night lambasting Makashov and Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov. In a bizarre twist, it also suggested that Makashov's physiognomy indicated that he might have some Jewish ancestry.

In a country with a large Jewish population, despite heavy emigration in recent years, and a long history of anti-Semitic pogroms and discrimination, passions on such issues run deep. A Communist party statement accused ORT of mounting a campaign against it in the style of the Nazi Joseph Goebbels.

Security Council secretary Bordyuzha, said extremism could destroy the country and called for measures to stop the rot. ``The collapse of the Soviet Union was triggered by ethnic issues,'' he told Interfax. ``Today we are facing similar processes and may face disintegration of Russia unless tough steps are taken to stop extremism.'' Bordyuzha and security officials discussed legislative and practical steps including police surveillance of extremists. ``This would not mean a return to political police but rather practical measures to fight extremism,'' he said.

from Johnson's Russia List

(posted 13 November 1998)

Religious freedom in Moscow improving

Report from Paul Stevenson for Human Rights Without Frontiers

HRWF (10.11.98) - On September 29, the judge presiding over the trial of a civil action to have the 10,000-strong Moscow Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses liquidated adjourned the case until November 17 to permit the Department of Justice of the City of Moscow to be added as a party to the case.

Judge Yelena Prokhorycheva allowed the defence application so that the Department could add its weight to the prosecution and its officials be cross-examined in court. The Witnesses' representative in Russia, Vasilii Kalin, welcomed the move. He said: "It is a significant motion because officials involved can now come forward and tell the Russian people whether they want to ban a religious minority, or whether they are in support of freedom of religion for all religious groups".

Now Moscow's First Deputy mayor, V. Malyshkov, has sought to distance the City of Moscow administration from prosecution widely believed to be Russian Orthodox church-inspired. Speaking exclusively to Paul Stevenson, Britain corespondent for Human Rights Without Frontiers while he attended the Moscow Invest '98 conference in London with Mayor Y M Luzhkov (October 21 and 22), Mr Malyshkov said that the government of Moscow was not taking part in any court cases against any sects or religious organisations.

Challenged to say where the Moscow government stood on human rights for religious groups, Mr Malyshkov was perfectly frank: "We, in principle, are against any kind of sects, especially the sects that harm the people - the health of the people - like the White Fraternity leader who has just come out of prison in the White Fraternity sect. There is a number of sects now in Russia."

I put it to him that this was a poor illustration, since there had been four investigations of the Witnesses in Moscow, and none of them had been [able] to uncover any indications of criminality; in fact not one breach of the law had been shown. Mr Malyshkov chose his words carefully: "The government in Moscow, under the Mayor, supports all confessions, official confessions, all official religions, and we help, actively help, to support their activities and to promote their particular religions. Not only Russian Orthodox churches are being opened in Moscow, but also Catholic, Lutheran churches, Muslim, and also synagogues, and Buddhists. Buddhist officials have approached us for the Buddhist temple to be set up in accordance with their official confession. They have something in St Petersburg, but they don't have one in Moscow, so we are forthcoming, we are willing to help."

So why, I asked, was the Moscow City government taking part in an action to liquidate Jehovah's Witnesses? "The government of Moscow is not taking part in any court cases against any sects or religious organisations" - Except Jehovah's Witnesses, I interrupted. "It's up to the representatives of the law to deal with it", he insisted, "as they consider whether it's legal or illegal, and if it's illegal then it's according to the law that the decision is taken. And the government of Moscow is not interfering with it."

Certainly Mayor Luzhkov went out of his way at the trade conference to emphasise Moscow's friendliness and democratic spirit. A press release reminded potential investors that the Russian capital in the last five years had undergone extensive reconstruction, where "super-modern offices have been built, old buildings been restored, churches and motorways are under construction. Moscow is turning into a real European city, which is becoming ever more comfortable to live in." Mayor Luzhkov urged his packed audience of senior British entrepreneurs, bankers and politicians, at a meeting chaired by Sir Hugh Bidwell, a former Lord Mayor of London, and addressed by Lord Hurd: "Do not be put off by the (economic) situation, do not be scared."

In his speech the Mayor spoke out for tolerance and understanding of people's political pasts. He urged his listeners to forget the communist party background of many of today's leading players: "I do not get very excited when people tell me that this and that person served in the party, was a high-ranking party official. Let us not start a witch hunt, let us look at every person's potential and let us allow the country, allow our budding statehood, to use these people's potential to solve the phenomenal problems that Russia is facing today." It is to be hoped that a similarly positive view will be taken of the core religious beliefs held by industrious and law-abiding Moscow citizens for three and four generations or more.

The legal background for tolerance is certainly within the City's grasp. Not only was Moscow now a modern European city, the mayor said, but "Moscow is an independent entity, Moscow has an independent government, independent authority. Moscow... does not depend on anyone, and is not accountable to anyone but our own Moscow City Parliament, or Duma."

All friends of human rights will draw comfort from this acceptance of responsibility for what happens to Moscow's citizens - because a negative human rights decision in Moscow would be likely to affect all of Russia's citizens. Mayor Luzhkov's powerful affirmation of Moscow's independence from outside influence - hopefully including what Ekspres khronika calls "the politicised Russian Orthodox church" - will cheer all friends of Moscow and friends of human rights around the world.

With Deputy Mayor Malyshkov's assurance of non-involvement firmly on the record in what seems to be little more than a mediaeval heresy trial, it seems that the prospects for religious freedom in the European pattern are getting better. "Moscow", the conference delegates were told, "keeps its word".

courtesy of Ray Prigodich

(posted 13 November 1998)

Witnesses case forebodes restrictions

by Paul Stevenson for Human Rights Without Frontiers, 3 November, 1998

HRWF (10.11.1998) - Fears are growing that the civil action brought by the City of Moscow in the Golovinsky People's Court for the liquidation of the religious group Jehovah's Witnesses is to be the precursor of a wider wave of religious oppression. Moscow's Central Journalists' Institute described the case as "the most serious attack on the basic constitutional rights of Russian citizens since Russia changed over to democracy." The European Human Rights Commission and the United Nations have also shown concern.

The case is due to be heard on November 17, when the City of Moscow's public prosecutor will seek to have the organisation and religious activity of the 10,000 Witnesses in Moscow banned. The case is being brought before Judge Prokhorycheva under Article 4 of the ironically-titled 1997 law 'On the Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations', and was deferred from September 29 on the application of the defendants to have the Moscow Department of Justice added as a third party. This would make them accountable in open court for their action, after three years of legal investigations that four times failed to uncover any evidence of criminal or unlawful activity by these Christians. To date, no official had been prepared to take responsibility for the prosecution, leaving the onus on the local prosecutor, a State employee. Whether the City will show its hand and appear in court remains to be seen. Certainly the First Deputy Mayor of Moscow, V Malyshkov, has gone on the record to deny that Moscow would get involved in any way. Speaking in London last month, he told "Human Rights Without Frontiers": "The government of Moscow is not taking part in any court cases against any sects or religious organisations. The government of Moscow is not interfering with it."

Observers remain unconvinced. At Moscow's Central Journalists' Institute Round Table conference on the issue, chaired by Ludmilla Alekseeva, the case was seen as an example of persecution for religious nonconformity, a precedent that could affect all faiths in Russia. L M Alekseeva sounded the warning: "What happens today with Jehovah's Witnesses should be at the centre of attention of all human rights organisations, since the precedent created by the case will have serious consequences for all religious and public minorities." Mr S Davtyan, an official with the Russian Federation's Ombudsman's office, agreed: "This opens a field of activity for human rights activists even before the case is considered by the court of first instance," he said.

There was disquiet, too, about the role and motives of the "Committee for Rescue of Youth from Totalitarian Sects", whose application to be added to the case was rejected by the court, although they were permitted to lead evidence as to their hostility to Jehovah's Witnesses. V K Nikolskii, an executive director of the For Freedom of Conscience and a Secular State movement, called the activities of the committee 'scandalous'. He told the conference: "Talking about rescuing youth is a respectable veneer for a greedy ambition to acquire property from the religious organisation if the case is successful. This is shown by their unreasonable claims for compensation for moral damage-up to 200 billion roubles-and their public squabbles over property won in previous such cases. The complaint of the 'Committee' led to a criminal case against Jehovah's Witnesses that was closed four times because of absence of any facts concerning the committing of crimes. The fact that the accusations-refuted by investigators-nevertheless formed the basis of the civil case for the liquidation of this religious group shows that there is serious pressure behind the scenes." Lawyer U A Rozenbaum also expressed concern about intolerance masquerading as concern, and called for "the prosecution of persons and organisations which try to infringe the constitutional rights of Russian citizens with slander. Under this category we can include both the 'Committee for Rescue of Youth from Totalitarian Sects' and the officials who support their activity." Whether the Committee will in fact face such a prosecution, presented with the same rigour as the harassment that they have instigated against the Witnesses, remains to be seen, but many Russians hope so in the interests of truth and justice.

The underlying danger to human rights in Russia was identified by V A Kikot, an advisor to the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, present in his personal capacity. There was a clear legal dichotomy in the situation, he said: on the one hand, the Russian Constitution guaranteed freedom of conscience and religion on the same level as the European Convention of Human Rights; but on the other hand, the new law 'On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organisations' redefined religion under two different headings, as traditional or not-traditional. Although the law guarantees equality to other religions as well," V A Kikot explained, "arbitrary rulings by officials . . . allow them in practice to infringe the constitutional rights of Russian citizens who are adherents of religious minorities."

The arbitrary and unfair nature of these rulings was poignantly emphasised by V M Kalin, co-ordinator of the Administrative Centre of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia. Thousands of Russian Witnesses had been exiled to remote areas of the USSR and served long terms of imprisonment for their faith, he told the conference. "Then, in 1991 they were rehabilitated as victims of political repression, and their certificates of rehabilitation used the term 'indefinitely'. Yet they now face another ban on their activity, affecting the 250,000 Russian citizens who are Witnesses, and all other religious and social minorities as well."

John Burns, a member of the Canadian Bar Association who has been given standing in the Moscow case, said that there was no European city or country where a similar court case could be brought against Jehovah's Witnesses. "The European Court of Human Rights had repeatedly investigated cases concerning the activity of Jehovah's Witnesses," he told the conference, "and every time the decision was made in their favour. It has been established that the activity of Jehovah's Witnesses is fully protected by the European Court of Human Rights. This fact is recognised by all democratic countries. By becoming a member of the European court, Russia has accepted a duty to recognise the decisions of the Court."

The Central Journalists' Institute commented: "The attempts to ban this religious community undermines the reputation of Russia as a democratic country on an international scale, and this after Russia has signed the Convention to defend human rights and basic freedoms, ratified by Federal law on 30 March 1998. Suffice it to say that the European Court of Human Rights three times upheld the rights of Jehovah's Witnesses--decisions which Russia considers it mandatory to follow."

courtesy of Ray Prigodich

(posted 13 November 1998)

Trial of Jehovah's Witnesses

Press release: Watchtower Bible and Tract Soceity
11 November 1998

Using Russia's new law on religion, the Moscow Prosecutor's Office brought civil charges against the Moscow Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. The prosecutor's complaint calls for the liquidation of the religion in Moscow. Postponed from an earlier date, the trial is scheduled to begin on November17 at the Golovinskiy People's Court.

A.V. Viktorov, Prosecutor of the Northern Administrative Circuit of Moscow, charges that the doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses puts them in violation of the new law, and they should, therefore, be banned. The new law stirred controversy when first considered last June. Despite international protest, President Yeltsin signed it on September 26, 1997. Promises were made to Western democracies that the law would be applied as "mildly" as possible, according to the Moscow Times. The trial will help show whether these promises will be kept.

The suit is a civil one because Jehovah's Witnesses were exonerated from the same accusations under criminal law. A.V. Loginov, head of the council for coordination with religious associations in the office of the Administration of the President, states that the administration can have no influence on the trial, even though it is a public prosecutor that is bringing civil charges. Defense counsel's motion to add Moscow's Department of Justice as a party to the trial was accepted by the court. This department oversees the registration of religions in Moscow, and its position on the new law will become clear.

Concern has been voiced that religious intolerance is behind the new law and its impact on the trial. The Youth Salvation Committee is named as an accuser in the complaint. The group is known to have close ties to the Moscow patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox church, as do many of the prosecution witnesses.

The ban would deny Jehovah's Witnesses the right to express their beliefs publicly, meet with others of like faith, rent property or distribute printed information. Because of the influence of Moscow over the rest of the country, it is feared that the ban would quickly spread across Russia. Human rights advocates consider this case as setting a dangerous precedent against freedom of religion throughout Russia.

Jehovah's Witnesses have about 10,000 members in Moscow, and across Russia more than 250,000 are associated with this Christian religion. They have been active in Russia for more than 100 years. Jehovah's Witnesses are officially recognized in more than 150 countries.

(posted 12 November 1998)

Nazis, yes; Christians, no

by Mikhail Kozlov, Radiotserkov
6 November 1998

KHABAROVSK. "In the near future we shall take power in Russia by legal means" according to the leaders of Nazis of the Far East, speaking in the name of their Leader, Alexander Barkashov. Just three years ago a claim about the Russian National Unity's taking power in Russia was considered empty rhetoric. Today "Unity" has sixty-four regional organizations with 100,000 active members of the movement, more than half of which are officially registered by departments of justice of local governments, including Khabarovsk.

The process of legalization of Russian Nazism is reaching completion. Evidence of this fact appeared in October in Khabarovsk at a conference of the regional organizations of "Unity" from the south of the Far East, which included besides the Khabarovsk Nazis nationalists of the coastal and Amur regions. The conference also was attended by representatives of the media and local governmental offices.

Immediate plans of the Russian national socialists included expansion of their ideology into rural areas and work with youth in the units of the Far Eastern military region and police agencies.

All of this has been happening against a background of no organized preventive policies with regard to Russian National Unity, while at the same time the very same department of justice of Khabarovsk territory is refusing to reregister "on legal grounds" three religious organizations: the church of Christians of Evangelical Faith--Pentecostals, the Khabarovsk Methodist church "Light of the World," and Grace church. If as a result of the harsh attitude of the department of justice with regard to these religious associations they do not receive reregistration within the legally established period, they will be liquidated by judicial means. (tr. by PDS)

Russian text at Radiotserkov

(posted 11 November 1998)

Protestants under threat

by Nikolai Solomonov, Radiotserkov
7 November 1998

At a meeting of the adminstration of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists held 21-23 October it was decided to remove from the capital of the Chechen republic the remaining forty members of the Baptist church, whose pastor was kidnapped in Grozny on 9 October. As the press service of the Russian EKhB Union informed "Radiotserkov," the kidnapped pastor Sitnikov, 40, had frequently been threatened and attacked by anti-Christian and criminal groups. Often he received at home telephone threats and demands for payment of large sums of money. Many believers of the Grozny EKhB church also freqently were subjected to persecution and even beatings at the hands of the same anti-Christian groups.

[from earlier report, 29 October] The EKhB congregation in Grozny has been undergoing "great difficulties," according to Baptist senior presbyter Eduard Genrikh. Around two weeks ago the Russian pastor of the church disappeared. It is known that shortly before this unknown persons demanded a large sum of money from him.

Commenting on the events, the director of the missionary department of the Russian Union of EKhB, Ruvim Voloshin, told a "Radiotserkov" reporter that such an incident is not unusual in Chechnya which, in his words, "is digging a tunnel through the mountains into Georgia and is looking for free labor for this." The money, according to Voloshin, is just an excuse for taking slave labor which is being used on this project. According to reports from other members of the congregation, several of them also have been subjected to threats and beatings to extort money.

Ruvim Voloshin asked the reporter not to give the name of the kidnapped pastor as long as there is hope for his liberation through local mediators. However the director of the missionary department noted that this is the second such incident involving EKhB ministers in Chechnya and hope for a favorable outcome is very dim. "We know that in the main people are kidnapped for this project and they are released only after they have become completely incapable of physical labor," he said.

As a result of the incident, the council of the union decided to recommend to the Grozny congregation that they leave the city or resettle in Russia. At the present time, the EKhB congregation in Grozny consists of around forty persons, whereas just a year ago there were 110 members. ( PDS)

Russian text at Radiotserkov

(posted 11 November 1998)

Sociologists examine Orthodoxy

by Aleksander Morozov
Nezavisimaia gazeta--religii

In 1997 the results of two major sociological investigations about the religious situation in Russia were publicized. The first was a joint project of the Finnish and Russian Academies of Science under the direction of K. Kaariainen and D. Furman. The second, by the Center of Sociological Research of the MGU [Moscow State University] where the section on religion is headed by T. Varzanova. The results of these findings shows that religious eclectism is dominant in Russia and the real Orthodox make up 4% [of the population] if not less.

A question is asked: Do you consider yourself Orthodox? Let's assume that 57% answer "yes." But the academic mind is inquisitive and the investigator, considering the results of the survey asks himself: "Do all 57% really believe?" As a result, an additional question is asked: "Do you go to Church?" It becomes evident that 40% do go to Church. The subsequent logic of the inquisitive academic mind introduces additional corrective questions in each survey: "Are you a communicant?" "Do you believe in a personal God?" "Is God Trinitarian?" With each new question the number of Orthodox steadily decreases. In brief, by asking all the additional questions we are certain to arrive at the conclusion that the percentage of Orthodox in Russia is zero. Of course, should an Orthodox priest with a theological education appear in the sample then instead of zero, perhaps there will be 0.1% Orthodox in Russia, but inasmuch as there are about 20,000 Orthodox priests in Russia, the chances of one falling into the sample are slight.

Two years ago when Tatiana Varzanova - a dedicated sociologist - found herself going in that direction, I - being the deputy chief editor of "Metaphrasis" the Orthodox information agency, went to see her at the Center. She was just then considering whether to add the question about Communion.

Undoubtedly, the question has a certain, applicable logic, since the "churched" Christians receive Communion. Likewise, each additional question, taken by itself, has a positive logic. However the result - which concluded that the number of Orthodox in Russia is zero or perhaps even 4% - is sheer nonsense. Knowing Tanya [Tatiana Varzanova], I am absolutely certain that she is not a biased person. Likewise there is no reason to suspect that Dimitry Efimovich Furman cooked his numbers to order. On the other hand the impropriety of applied sociology in its attempt to define what "Orthodoxy" is conveniently falls within the framework of global predetermination. The results of such surveys has practical consequences - these figures dance around on the pages of the media, they are taken for granted in analytical studies, political projections may be based on them, etc. Thus a conscious reference to the figure of 4% should not be made as was done by O. Kir'yazev (N.G. Religion, September), instead the loss of the methodological sensitivity in such surveys should be pointed out.

Applied sociology is capable of making helpful analyses of various correlations. For example - how many of those who consider themselves Orthodox are monarchists, or perhaps, partisans of Zyuganov, opponents of the expansion of NATO, etc. Admittedly, there are many interesting results in D. Furman's conclusions on these subjects. However, we must clearly affirm: applied sociology has no business determining what "Orthodoxy" is. Its methodology does not permit this.

Last year, Ol'ga Kurilo published the brilliant "Studies of the History of Lutherans in Russia in XVI-XX Centuries." She conducted detailed interviews with the Saints Peter and Paul Lutheran community in Moscow. The survey showed that the majority of parishioners had not read the works of Luther and don't even know their titles, nor do they observe specific Lutheran feasts such as Reformation Day and the Fall harvest festival but practically all celebrate Christmas and Easter twice - the second time along with the Orthodox. They bake the Kulichi [Russian Easter bread], make use of Orthodox prayers and Baptist hymns, etc. During the survey only one person recalled Reformation Day as a specific Lutheran feast. However, O. Kurilo does not come to the conclusion that in Moscow there is only one Lutheran, and that the others adhere to "eclectism" and "religious syncretism" and are not really Lutherans.

Why is this done with respect to the Orthodox? The answer is obvious. Neither Tanya [Tatiana Varzanova] nor the respected Dimitry Efimovich [Furman], from a civic point, like that hypocrisy which is evident in Russian society with respect to Orthodoxy. They don't like to see those in power standing holding candles. And this "civic spirit" inevitably is found to be the basis of that sociological reductionism. In an underhand way, but they want to prove that while the Pharisaism is all around us, as for real Orthodox, there is just a handful!

The reductionist methodology works well only with sectarians. With them, the ordinary sectarian will have memorized all its tenets like a schoolboy. D.. Furman understands clearly - after all, he is an experienced specialist of religion - that an attempt to determine how many "real Jehovah's Witnesses" there are among the Witnesses, the figures will be exceptionally high. All 100% will be found to be "real"! Questions for the survey could come directly from any of the "Witness" flyer ("What is God's name?" "Is God a Trinity?" "Should children be baptized?"). It is evident, not only to the specialist in religion, that the Witnesses memorize this brochure and are always armed with two or three citations from the New Testament for each memorized thesis.

It isn't clear why both Dimitry Efimovich [Furman] and Tanya [Tatiana Varzanova] study Orthodoxy as if it was a sect when there is a fundamental difference between a major religion and a sect, which has been defined by such as Harnack, Troelsch and Weber and this is well known to them.

We will say: Dimitry Efimovich [Furman] and Tanya [Tatiana Varzanova]! The conclusion that there is an "Orthodox consensus" in Russia (i.e., 60% eclectics and hypocrites) plus 4% Orthodox is sheer nonsense, based on unconscious bias.

What is this 4%? It is more likely that D.. Furman discovered, by way of corrective questions, how many of the Orthodox have a sectarian consciousness. There is no question that Orthodoxy has them. In the first place they can be found within the numerically small jurisdictions, which, at various times, broke away from the Moscow Patriarchate ("true orthodox," or, for example, the "free orthodox church" that broke off from the ROCA in the nineties). As any radical and "resistance" groups they, on the basis of their make-up, are viewed by religion specialists, as sects. Members of such groups are constantly called upon to define their opposition and are always able to answer any dogmatical question. Their religious consciousness functions in a way different from the members of main line confessions. You can always spot a sectarian by his readiness to answer any question with a memorized set response.

Secondly, even within the Moscow Patriarchate there is a particular layer of radicals. There are, to say, the "true orthodox" within the Church. These people as a rule have a ready yes-no answer to any question. They are ideally suited in their thinking for sociological surveys. They are firmly convinced that the "Catholic communion is diabolic food," that to translate the Liturgy into contemporary Russian is a crime against the Patristic Tradition. Even their political views are closely connected with their faith - they are consistent anticommunists, monarchists, nationalists, etc.

It is completely incomprehensible why D. Furman identifies this respected group of Orthodox radicals with the Orthodox in Russia. I think that, analyzing Catholics in Italy he undoubtedly would find that the radical Catholics are "the only Catholics" and that everyone else are eclectics and occultists. Oleg Kir'yazev bears even a greater responsibility since he has taken that 4% figure into account to formulate far-reaching political conclusions. There now, their numbers are nothing but how pretentious they are! It is even more curious that these well-meaning people immediately published this 4% figure in English, disseminating it on the Internet.

I am currently working in one of the analytical centers in a political staff. It also has applied sociologists. I explained my views to one of them in an effort to ask about accuracy in applied sociology. But he, like a Zen teacher, veered away from a direct answer but said the following: "If a girl student does not know the "Our Father" and the Creed by memory and if she a) is not a materialist, b) in a difficult time of her life would not go to a mosque, a Catholic church, a synagogue, but to an Orthodox Church, then she is indeed Orthodox."

The figures arrived at should be looked upon from this point of view. About 60% of those queried, in one way or another, whether more or less deeply, consider themselves Orthodox. D. Furman's and T. Barzanova's findings show that in 1991-1997 this figure consistently increases. Today they may attend Church infrequently, tomorrow - more frequently. Attempts to extract "eccleticism" are not significant inasmuch as it would be necessary to find out what was the situation in Czar Nicholas' time. Was the Orthodox consciousness more "pure" if such purity would be measured with the help of reductionist methods of primitive sociology?

A significant part of Russians, including the youth, are trying to find themselves within the national spiritual tradition. It is likely that behind this there is some kind of a large-scale process of social consciousness. It is understandable that this is linked with the new Russian national self-identification. On the other hand certain futurologists say that, in spite of the massive spread of occultism in this century, there is that massive return towards traditional religion.

translated by A.S.

Russian text at Metaphrasis

(posted 9 November 1998)

Coprighted material. For private use only.

If material is quoted, please give credit to the publication from which it came. It is not necessary to credit this Web page.