RUSSIA: Salvation Army Appeal Delayed

by Felix Corley, Keston News Service, 20 September 2001

The Salvation Army's appeal against a Moscow court ruling that its branch in the Russian capital is to be liquidated and its activity halted has been held up because the judge has so far failed to issue the ruling in writing, the organisation 's lawyer told Keston News Service on 20 September. Vladimir Ryakhovsky of the Moscow-based Slavic Centre for Law and Justice said the Salvation Army would lodge its appeal with Moscow city court as soon as it gets the text of the ruling.

Judge Svetlana Grigoreva of the Tagansky district court, who issued her ruling orally on 12 September (see KNS 13 September 2001), told Keston on 20 September that the ruling cannot yet be issued, as one of the judicial assessors who had been present in court was absent and could therefore not sign the document. She refused to indicate when she expected the ruling to be issued or to confirm whether the text has already been prepared, saying this was a subject she could not discuss with journalists. Asked to make the ruling available to Keston when it is issued, she declined, saying it would be released publicly only once the appeal had been heard and the ruling entered into force.

Grigoreva has promised the Salvation Army's lawyers, though, that the ten-day period for lodging the appeal, which was due to expire on 22 September, would be extended because of the delay in issuing the ruling in writing. Ryakhovsky told Keston he was waiting for the written ruling to see the reasons it gives for halting the activity of and liquidating the Salvation Army Moscow branch. He said his appeal would concentrate on seeking to revoke the order to halt the branch's activities, which he described as 'unjustified', and to have the liquidation suspended until the Constitutional Court rules in the separate challenge to the decision of the Moscow city justice department to refuse the branch registration.

The liquidation ruling will not come into force until after the new appeal to the Moscow city court is heard (and not after the Constitutional Court appeal has been heard - correction to KNS 13 September 2001).

Asked whether there had been any pressure from the Moscow city justice department in reaching the verdict, Grigoreva said she 'didn't know what influence there might have been', but declared categorically 'no-one exerted any influence on me personally'.

The Salvation Army appeal to the Constitutional Court was acknowledged on 10 September. It has also appealed to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. (END)