RUSSIA: Further Foot-Dragging in Krasnodar Book Confiscation.

by Aleksandr Schipkov, Keston News Service, 30 March 2001

Twenty months after the administration of Krasnodar Krai in southern Russia confiscated all the religious literature from a warehouse owned by a local Protestant church, the Evangelical Christian missionary union (ECMU), and two and a half months after officials promised its return, officials have claimed to Keston News Service that the books have not been handed back because they cannot locate the church leaders to arrange their return. However, they have now given a new deadline of April for the books' return.

The literature - intended for use in the ECMU's missionary work – was confiscated in July 1999 and has been kept in an administration building ever since. Liliya Zub, head of the department for relations with religious organisations in the Krai administration, told Keston on 9 January that all the books would be returned to the church by the end of January (see KNS 11 January 2001).

However, despite these promises the books have still not been returned. On 26 March, Gennadi Pshenichny, director of the ECMU college, told Keston that the books, as before, remained in the administration building. On 27 March, Keston asked Zub by telephone why the literature was still impounded. She replied that she had tried to locate the ECMU leaders, but had found no-one, and therefore the books had not been returned. `The decision on the transfer of the books has been taken. I personally have no objection to their return.'

The same day the ECMU's lawyer, Aleksandr Antipyonok, told Keston by telephone that the church's pastor Semyon Borodin was indeed currently in Kiev at a pastoral seminar, but that during the whole of February and March he had been in Krasnodar. Moreover, Antipyonok himself had met Zub on 12 March during her meeting with representatives of local Protestant churches (see separate KNS article), but she had said nothing to him about the administration's intention of returning the books.

Asked by Keston whether the books would be given back to the church, Zub pledged that this would still happen before Easter, at the beginning of April. (END)