I. COSSACKS USE WHIPS AGAINST PROTESTANTS. A Cossack manifesto
in Anapa kraii proclaims that the Cossacks 'are beginning a
decisive struggle against these newly arrived preachers of schism
and sectarianism, up to and including their forced expulsion from
II. SEVENTH DAY ADVENTISTS REGISTERED IN RUSSIA. With
registration in hand, Adventists may have legal leverage for
distributing Bibles in Anapa.
III. UZBEKISTAN'S COUNTDOWN TO 15 AUGUST: A CHRONOLOGY. From
raids on believers' homes, to closed churches, the hope for
religious liberty is dim.
IV. INDEPENDENT GEORGIAN EVANGELICALS WORK TOGETHER. Pastors pray
together and discuss evangelism projects for their country.
Tuesday 15 September
COSSACKS USE WHIPS AGAINST PROTESTANTS
By Roman Lunkin, Keston News Service
Cossacks in the resort town of Anapa in Krasnodar krai, about 700
miles south of Moscow, have detained and whipped a local Russian
Adventist who had been giving away Bibles in a public park.
Local Orthodox clergy, while not fully endorsing this practice,
have made little serious effort to discourage it.
On 23 July two uniformed Cossacks interrupted a group of
Adventists led by YURI SALOV as they were distributing Bibles in
Anapa's central park. The two insisted that Salov go off with
them in a car to the ataman of the Kuban Cossacks for the Anapa
district. According to the Adventists, the ataman ANATOLI
FYODOROV told Salov that Adventism was a 'bourgeois faith',
accused him of 'betraying the Orthodox faith', and ordered him
to lie down on a sofa. The ataman and a henchman then gave the
young evangelist 20 lashes with an iron-tipped whip before
releasing him. Cossacks refused to return 60 Bibles which they
had confiscated from Salov and his companions.
Anapa's Adventist pastor VALERI KHANENSON told Keston News
Service in a telephone interview that relations between the local
Cossacks and Protestants were 'quite tense' - though, in his
opinion, the Jehovah's Witnesses and Hare Krishnaites felt freer.
The pastor said he had requested a meeting with ataman Fyodorov
after the whipping incident, but that Fyodorov had refused.
Instead the ataman's deputy YURI KONDRATOV had given the
Adventists a copy of the Cossacks' manifesto against
This document, warning that 'pseudo-religious preachers' are
trying to persuade residents and vacationers in the resort to
follow 'false doctrines', proclaims that the Cossacks 'are
beginning a decisive struggle against these newly arrived
preachers of schism and sectarianism, up to and including their
forced expulsion from the krai'.
The manifesto claims that the Cossacks' campaign has the support
of the krai's 'traditional confessions'; in response to the
Adventist pastor's question, the ataman's deputy said that these
were the confessions which were represented in the city
government's council on religion: the Moscow Patriarchate, the
Armenian church, the Roman Catholics and the Baptists. Pastor
Khanenson told Keston that he had never before heard that such
a local council even existed.
Khanenson requested a meeting with the spiritual father
('dukhovnik') of the local Cossacks, Orthodox priest ALEKSANDR.
According to the Adventist pastor, Fr Aleksandr denied that he
approved of the whipping of Salov, and agreed to request the
Cossacks to return the 60 Bibles; but the Cossacks continued to
Keston rang the Anapa Cossacks' office to request clarification.
SERGEI SEREBROV, a Cossack commander, responded that if
Protestants engaged in public 'proselytism,' then the Cossacks
would whip them. He said that by 'pseudo-religious' preachers
they meant 'all who are against the Orthodox'.
Keston then contacted the local Cossacks' 'dukhovnik', Fr
Aleksandr. The priest, who refused to give his last name, said
that Russia's 1997 law on religion did not go far enough to
protect the country because it still 'allows sectarians to
exist'. Asked for his own views on the Cossacks' actions, he
replied that 'these are Cossack methods, I cannot stop them'.
The 'dukhovnik' for all the Kuban Cossacks, FR SERGI OVCHINNIKOV,
gave Keston simi;ar answers. He said that 'it is not good that
they punished someone in that way, but the Cossacks have their
own local traditions'.
ANDREI MUKHORTOV, Anapa's plenipotentiary for relations with
religious organisations, told Keston that he did not approve of
the Cossacks' whipping of Salov, but that he thought the
Adventists also behaved improperly since they were not formally
registered as a congregation in the city, in his view they had
no right to distribute Bibles in the city park.
The Adventists have filed charges with the city police - who are
generally considered to have bad relations with the Cossacks -
demanding the return of their stolen Bibles. (END)
Tuesday 15 September
SEVENTH DAY ADVENTISTS REGISTERED IN RUSSIA
The Adventist Press Service in Basel, Switzerland reports that
the Seventh-Day Adventist Church has been successful in securing
registration for their organisation in the Russian Federation.
According to VIKTOR KRUSHENITSKY, religious liberty director for
the Russian Adventist Church, this registration is for the
Adventist Church organisation covering the whole of Russia; now
individual entities of the church must reregister. 'Even though
the deadline for reregistration is the end of 1999, local
churches cannot legally be involved in certain activities until
they are registered or reregistered. The higher organisation must
gain approval before the lower organisation can apply,'
So it appears that as local Adventist churches reregister, even
according to the strict interpretation of the law they should be
able to distribute Bibles as they tried to do in Anapa, Krasnodar
krai. Article 17, Point 1 of the 1997 Law on Freedom of
Conscience and Religious Associations states:
'Religious organisations have the right to produce,
acquire, export, import and distribute religious
literature, printed, audio and video material and other
articles of religious significance.' (END)
Tuesday 15 September
UZBEKISTAN'S COUNTDOWN TO 15 AUGUST: A CHRONOLOGY
by Felix Corley, Keston News Service
On 15 August the period for registered religious organisations
in Uzbekistan to apply for reregistration with the Ministry of
Justice expired. Many believers in the country believe measures
against them will be taken soon after, under the provisions of
the harsh 1 May law on freedom of conscience and religious
organisations. Here we present a chronology of recent events as
the deadline approached.
Those with further information are requested to report it to
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
1 May 1998 - President ISLAM KARIMOV address parliament, the Oliy
Majlis, calls for harsh measures against Islamic fundamentalists,
threatens to shoot them personally. Parliament passes new version
of the law on freedom of conscience and religious organisations,
amending previous 1991 version. New law bans unregistered
religious activity, proselytism and missionary activity.
Parliament passes amendments to criminal code and civil code,
with punishments of up to five years' imprisonment for religious
offences that do not involve violence.
13 May 1998 - Police raid homes of Jehovah's Witnesses in
Shakhrisabz and question several people.
Mid-May 1998 - Presidential council officials visit Zaraulbazar
labour camp and close prison mosque and Evangelical
15 May 1998 - Text of new law on freedom of conscience published
in the Tashkent Russian-language paper 'Narodnoye Slovo'. The new
law comes into force on publication.
19 May 1998 - Text of amendments to civil code and criminal code
published in 'Narodnoye Slovo'. The new codes come into force on
19 May 1998 - Text of new law published in the Tashkent Uzbek-
language paper 'Khalk Suzi'.
26 May 1998 - Text of new law published in the Tashkent
Russian-language paper 'Pravda Vostoka'.
28 May 1998 - Evangelical Christians/Baptists begin two-day
meeting in Tashkent to discuss new law and issue appeal to
President Karimov that the legislation turns law-abiding Baptists
11 June 1998 - Adventist ministers meet in Tashkent to discuss
the law and prepare appeal to President Karimov to reduce the
minimum members needed for a congregation to register from 100
to 10, to enable groups with two or three registered
congregations to form central administrations rather than
congregations in eight of the country's fourteen regions and to
lift the ban on missionary activity.
16 June 1998 - Adventists issue appeal to President Karimov
prepared at 11 June meeting. There is no reply to the appeal.
16 June 1998 - Priests and ministers of five denominations
(Catholic, Evangelical-Lutheran, Evangelical Christian/Baptist,
Adventist and Full Gospel Christian) meet in Tashkent to discuss
the law. Issue appeal to President Karimov expressing 'concern'
about new law and asking for removal of the requirement to have
100 members for a congregation to register and removal of the ban
on missionary activity. There is no reply to the appeal.
16 June 1998 - Three Jehovah's Witnesses whose homes were raided
on 11 May fined in Shakhrisabz.
20 June 1998 - Council of Ministers (in Decree No. 263 addressed
to the Ministry of Justice and signed by the prime minister OTKIR
SULTONOV) issues detailed registration regulations specifying
documents and fees necessary for registration applications.
Decree requires all registered communities to lodge
reregistration applications by 15 August.
24 June 1998 - Deputy Minister of Justice P.A. SAMATOV writes to
registered communities instructing them to apply for
reregistration and to present the required documentation by 15
25 June 1998 - The procuracy of a district of Samarkand bans a
Jehovah's Witness community, declaring that it is unregistered
and would not qualify for registration under the new law as it
has fewer than 100 members.
Early August 1998 - Adventist communities in Navoi and Samarkand
warned by local government officials that they will have problems
after 15 August.
1 August 1998 - Unknown assailants attack two Russian
journalists, VITALI PONOMAREV and NIKOLAI MITROKHIN, on the
streets of Tashkent. The two had just returned from investigating
religious repression in the Fergana valley.
4 August 1998 - The deputy head of the religious affairs
committee, SHAAMIL MINOVAROV, who coordinates Christian matters,
tells several Christian leaders verbally that the requirement of
100 adult members for a congregation to be eligible to seek
registration is to be lifted and the deadline extended from 15
August until the end of the year. There is no confirmation of
this statement, which is not published.
15 August 1998 - Deadline for reregistration applications to be
Tuesday 15 September
INDEPENDENT GEORGIAN EVANGELICALS WORK TOGETHER
On 21 June pastors of independent Evangelical Protestant churches
gathered from 'all corners of Georgia' to pray for the people of
their country. STEVE REUTERS of the Russian Association of
Independent Christian Churches told Keston that these churches
had never before worked together but that some pastors had
travelled 300 kilometres (180 miles) for the first of what they
hoped would be monthly meetings in Gori. Gori, the birthplace of
JOSEPH STALIN, is more appropriately also the home of GAICC (the
Georgian Association of Independent Christian Churches).
These churches have already established a plan to plant similar
churches where there are none at the moment and hope to open a
Bible institute to prepare leaders for evangelism. One book on
leadership development has been translated into Georgian. (END)