KESTON NEWS SERVICE: SUMMARY
Issue 6, Articles 23-26
30 June 2000

Immediate reporting on violations of religious liberty and on religion in
communist and post-communist lands.
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UKRAINE: PRESSURE LEADS TO DISINTEGRATION OF TRUE
ORTHODOX PARISH (26 June). The bishop of the Crimean diocese of the
True Orthodox Church has complained that the city authorities in the town of
Feodosiya on the Black Sea coast have barred a parish from further use of a
building after imposing an excessive and unaffordable rent. But the head of
religious affairs in the Crimea told Keston that his department�s job was only to
return formerly expropriated property and that of 822 religious communities in
the area, only 355 were provided with religious buildings. According to a
parishioner, they have prayed under the open sky since being registered in
1991. Attempts to use a neglected Catholic chapel were foiled when the local
authorities gave it to the Moscow Patriarchate. The True Orthodox also have
trouble with the Moscow Patriarchate which allegedly put up posters
comparing them to a sect and saying their sacraments were not valid.

ARMENIA BACKTRACKS ON JEHOVAH'S WITNESS REGISTRATION
(27 June). Two more Jehovah�s Witnesses were imprisoned as conscientious
objectors in recent weeks despite Armenia�s commitment in its bid to join the
Council of Europe to �ensure that all churches, in particular those referred to as
�non-traditional�, may practise their religion without discrimination�, to free all
conscientious objects from prison and to introduce an alternative service law.
During the same period, the acting chairman of the religious affairs committee
accused the Jehovah�s Witnesses on national television of violating Armenian
law by proselytism and let the Jehovah�s Witnesses know that they would be
given no more written explanations of why registration had been refused. A
Foreign Ministry spokesman told Keston, �Armenia�s portfolio with the
Council of Europe is filled. All the conditions are satisfied.�

CONFLICT FOR LEADERSHIP OF RUSSIA'S JEWS LIKELY TO SPREAD
TO PROVINCES (27 June). According to Rabbi Ben-Yakov, Lazar�s faction
has already expelled Shayevich�s from the local synagogues in Kostroma,
Smolensk and Rostov-on-Don. Lazar and Shayevich have been vying for top
leadership among Russia�s Jews and it appears that mayors and governors
responsible for returning confiscated property as well as local Jewish
communities will have to choose between the two. Has President Putin�s
government shown Lazar favouritism? Was Lazar�s alleged takeover and
tycoon Gusinsky�s arrest connected to rival tycoon Berezovsky�s ties to the
new government? Keston begins to unravel the tale.

RUSSIA: ABSENCE MAKES THE CASE GO SLOWER (29 June). The
hearing to liquidate the Pentecostal Church of Christ in Chekobarsy due to take
place on 28 June, has again been postponed until at least September. Both
representatives of the procuracy and the specialists who had concluded that the
church had harmed the health of citizens failed to appear. The reason for the
delay remains unclear. However, until the case is heard, the church cannot be
reregistered; if not heard by 31 December, according to the amended law on
religion, the church �must be liquidated�. The head of the regional registration
department told the church�s pastor, �You will never achieve reregistration, so
isn�t it easier to liquidate yourselves and then to create a new organisation?�

Copyright (c) 2000 Keston Institute. All rights reserved.