RUSSIA: Independent Baptist Church Not Liquidated.

Geraldine Fagan, Keston News Service, 30 August 2002

A local Vanino court yesterday (29 August) ruled not to liquidate the independent Baptist church in the Pacific port founded by US missionary Dan Pollard, according to church member Inna Vaulina.

The case (see KNS 28 August) had been brought by Khabarovsky Krai local department of justice since the church had failed to re-register under Russia's 1997 law on religion. The department of justice rejected the church's 25 October 2000 re-registration application, later citing the grounds that its legal address is also registered as living accommodation.

Vaulina believes that the Vanino court failed to liquidate the church solely because the judge recently became aware of the February 2002 decision by Russia's Constitutional Court in response to an appeal by the Moscow Branch of the Salvation Army (see KNS 4 March 2002). "Taking into consideration the judge's previous mood, her ruling today struck me as somewhat of a surprise," Vaulina told Keston on 29 August, "despite the fact that the law was on our side."

According to Vaulina, yesterday's decision will not come into force for a further 10 days, during which time Khabarovsky Krai department of justice has the opportunity to lodge an appeal. The court's decision will also not be available in writing before the 10-day period expires, she said.

Keston has been unable to contact either Judge Tamara Afanasyeva or Khabarovsky Krai department of justice for confirmation of the court's decision. (END)