RUSSIA: Salvation Army Liquidation Hearing Adjourned.

by Geraldine Fagan, Keston News Service, 9 July 2001

The court hearing for the liquidation of the Moscow city branch of the Salvation Army has been adjourned until 11 September, Colonel Kenneth Baillie of the church told Keston News Service this afternoon. In a brief session at Moscow city's Tagansky District Court at 2 pm today, he said, a female judge who is new to the case accepted the branch's request to adjourn the hearing because its lawyers are currently outside the country. The Salvation Army now has until the September hearing to submit documentation in its defence, at which point Baillie believes that there will be a full consideration of the case.

The Salvation Army was registered as a centralised religious organisation on the federal level in late February, and Colonel Baillie told Keston that at present the Moscow branch is in essence functioning as the federal organisation: 'We have legally transferred what we can of our assets to the federal charter.' However, he stressed that this did not mean that the liquidation case was 'some inconsequential striking off the record of an expired registration - it exposes us to the severe risk of being caught in a tug-of-war between the local and federal authorities.' Although the church's lawyers - from the Slavic Centre of Law and Justice - believe that the Moscow branch would be able to function using federal status in the eventuality of liquidation, explained Baillie, 'they admit that according to the law it is unclear where local and federal powers lie.' Moscow landlords might thus insist upon local registration documentation before leasing a hall for worship, for example, said Baillie, and so 'everything we are doing would be at risk. How can we have a bank account, or pay taxes on our employees' wages, or even have employees, if we don't exist?'

Baillie also confirmed to Keston that the court proceedings in themselves were taking their toll upon the church: 'This waste of time, energy and money is such a diversion from our real ministry of compassion and Christian concern.' (END)