CONFESSIONS The question of the status of the Russian Orthodox church is a stumbling block in the discussion of the federation law "On introducing amendments and additions to the law on freedom of religious confession," whose adoption is obviously bogged down in the State Duma. The constituion, according to which religious associations are separated from the state and are equal before the law, does not permit talk of granting special status to any traditional confessions. The president of the department of external affairs of the Moscow patriarchate, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, in a letter to the State Duma addressed to the head of the deputies group Narodovlastie, N.I. Ryzhkov, on 8 July 1996, appealing to the "wishes of tens of millions of believers," suggested the removal from the text of the new law (article 4, point 1) of the phrase: "Establishment of any privileges or restrictions for one or several religious organizations is not permitted." And what do Muscovites think about the place of the Orthodox church among other religious organizations? (The number of Orthodox in the capital is 70 percent greater than the average across Russia, as is also the level of religiosity.) Thus, according to data of surveys of the Center of Sociological Research of the Lomonosov Moscow State University, conducted in June 1996, of 4,000 Russians, 43.3% consider themselves Orthodox, 50.6% consider themselves believers (In Moscow of 1000 questioned, 66.1% were Orthodox) while 20.3% Muscovites attend church at least once a month and 3.9% attend weekly (in regions of Russia 7.1% of those questioned attend church monthly).

On the question "What position should the Russian Orthodox church occupy among other religious organizations in Russia?" the opinions of Muscovites broke down as follows: the leading position, 31.9%; equal position, 45.9%; difficult to say, 19.3%; no answer, 3.0%.

As we see, only half of the Orthodox among Muscovites questions advocates a special status for the ROC.

The fate of amendments regarding religious education also depends on the status of the Orthodox church. The law guarantees the secular character of the system of state education and "it does not pursue the goal of the formation of any particular attitude toward religion." Metropolitan Kirill, on the eve of 1September on the TV broadcast "Pastoral word," speaking about the creation of a nationwide system of religious education, declared religious education the number one task for the church, and in the following broadcast (7 September) he railed against bureaucrats who, observing the law "On freedom of religious confession," violate thereby the freedom of children who want to study Orthodoxy. We have not studied the opinion of children, but hew is what adult Muscovites answered to the question: "Is it necessary to teach the Law of God in schools?": 50.2% said yes; 26.6% said no; 22.3% were unsure; and 1% did not answer.

Thus, the necessity to acquaint the younger generation with Orthodoxy within the walls of the schools is not recognized even by all of the Orthodox. It is necessary to not the low awareness of those surveyed regarding the subject. Of 30% of Muscovites who read religious literature (mostly the Bible or New Testament) only 1% had read the book "The Law of God." Tatiana Varzanova MUSLIMS ARE OPENING MOSQUES, ALTHOUGH SOME ARE OBSTRUCTED. According to certain data, from the beginning of 1996 fifty new mosques were opened belonging to the jurisdiction of the Central Council of the Ecclesiastical Board of Muslims of Russia. In just the last few days, with the participation of the supreme mufti Talgat Tadzhudin, believers came to new prayer buildings in the village of Bogatye Saby in Tatariia and the village of Galia in Samara district. It is necessary to observe that both mosques were built exclusively by the contributions and the hands of Muslims themselves, without the support of state agencies. In all, under the jurisdiction of the central board there are about 1500 mosques and 2000 parishes. At the same time the conflict between representatives of the 2000th Islamic congregation and the head of the administration of Balashikh, near Moscow, Viacheslav Ivanov, has not ceased. Here, for four years already, he has refused to allocate land to believers for construction of the mosque within the boundaries of the city. The bureaucrat explains his refusal by the claim that Islam is not traditional for this region of Russia. Ignorance has long been a distinguishing characteristics of the powers that be, but in a multiconfessional and multinational country it can lead to tragic consequences.