KESTON NEWS SERVICE: SUMMARY
Issue 4, Article 26 - Issue 5, Article 12
11 May 2000

Immediate reporting on violations of religious liberty and on religion in
communist and post-communist lands.
______________________________________

US MISSIONARY DAN POLLARD TO RETURN TO RUSSIA? (8 May). An
apparent reinforcement of centralised authority under Putin may result in the
public prosecutor of the Russian Federation overruling grounds given for
Pollard�s exclusion by Khabarovsk krai public prosecutor. This, according to
Pollard, would allow him to return to the autonomous congregation he founded
in the Pacific port of Vanino in 1992. The krai�s allegations against Pollard
include non-payment of taxes and violation of customs codes. Pollard explains
that the problems lie with interference and delays by federal and local officials.
His church has been turned down for reregistration four times despite
belonging to a centralised religious organisation, the Russian Baptist Union.


3 ARTICLES ON INTER-MUSLIM RELATIONS IN RUSSIA

RUSSIA�S RIVAL MUSLIM ORGANISATIONS BATTLE FOR
SUPREMACY (5 May). As in the Soviet era, mufti Talgat Tadzhuddin heads
what was the Spiritual Directorate of Muslims in European Russia and Siberia
and is now the Central Spiritual Directorate of Muslims (CSDM) in Russia and
the European Countries of the CIS. But now he has a competitor: Ravil
Gainutdin. Whereas Tadzhuddin�s directorate is a strictly centralised
organisation which appoints muftis and confirms imams and he is elected for
life, Gainutdin�s organisation, the Russian Council of Muftis, is primarily
consultative with Gainutdin the chairman. Though his group is still
unregistered, Tadzhuddin has good support in the regions and calls himself
�supreme Mufti of Russia�. Gainutdin�s Council is registered with its statues
stating it is the �supreme central religious authority of Muslims� and he has
support in Moscow. Thus conflict arises over who represents Muslims in the
international arena and between confessions.

DIVISIONS AMONG RUSSIA�S MUSLIM LEADERS DELAY
REREGISTRATION OF LOCAL COMMUNITIES (5 May). The registration
of Muslim religious organisations in Russia is progressing very slowly, with
only one of the two main umbrella organisations (Gainutdin�s Russian Council
of Muftis) and only a small percentage of individual mosques having achieved
reregistration. One main reason is the struggle between Tadzhuddin and
Gainutdin�s organisations. The CSDM has accused government bureaucracy
and Gainutdin�s influence in Moscow of slowing down its reregistration. But
when it comes to individual mosques, Keston was told it was a �veritable battle
being waged over every mosque�the authorities want to force every
community to join Tadzhuddin�s union, which is an attempt to revive the old
Soviet system�.

RIVAL MUSLIM ORGANISATIONS BATTLE OVER PERM AND
MOSCOW MOSQUES (5 May). When Perm members moved its jurisdiction
from Tadzhuddin�s CSDM to Gainutdin�s directorate (SDMER), the mufti
loyal to the former called it a �a hotbed of Wahhabism� and Gainutdin was
accused of links with the local drugs baron. Even more recently in Moscow, the
historic mosque has been at the centre of a controversy over ownership. The
CSDM states it was �seized by force� while the SDMER explains the former
leader of the Bait Allah religious society had wanted to sell the building and
the members dismissed him.

RUSSIA �AT A CROSSROADS� SAYS OFFICIAL US REPORT ON
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM (3 May) The US Commission on International
Religious Freedom published its first report on 1 May, singling out China,
Russia and Sudan. In China, the report gives examples of its �sweeping turn for
the worse�. Meanwhile Russia was focused on �because that country is at a
crossroads in its approach to religious freedom� listing violations reported on
by Keston News Service, including the March 2000 reregistration deadline
extension.
The Commission�s recommendations included restricting �permanent
normal trade relations� and being granted easier access to religious figures
suffering discrimination in China. On Russia, recommendations included
increased documentation on less publicised groups such as Muslims and Old
Believers and direct communication between the US and Russia�s Presidents in
order to ensure that unregistered religious organisations are not in fact
liquidated in January 2001.

RUSSIA: VORONEZH REGIONAL DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
RECALLS COURT CASES, BUT LEGAL PROBLEMS REMAIN
UNRESOLVED (2 May). The 10 unresolved court cases against Protestant and
Jewish religious organisations have been recalled due to the extension of the
law on religion�s reregistration deadline. The court refuses to reconsider the
three cases of liquidation already handed down, advising those churches to
seek registration as newly-formed religious organisations.

PUTIN FOLLOWS IN TSARS� FOOTSTEPS (27 April). �All Orthodox Rus�
knows and loves you. Surely it is largely thanks to teachers such as you that
Russia is returning today to its spiritual and moral roots.� So Putin
congratulated Archimandrite Ioann on his ninetieth birthday. The Russian
Orthodox monk is widely revered as a starets and lives at Pskov Monastery of
the Caves which remained open throughout the Soviet period. What prompted
him to do so is less obvious; was his presidential staff deeply impressed when
Yeltsin visited a few years ago; did Moscow Patriarchate staff remind Putin; or
as suggested by a Russian journalist, as an employee of the KGB, was it that
Putin well understood �who was who� in the Russian Orthodox Church? Keston
interviews government and church officials to find out.

AZERBAIJAN: NO REGISTRATION? NO ELECTRICITY! (8 May).
Electricity and gas have been cut to an unregistered Baptist church 25 miles
from Baku for over two years. Indications are that the order came from the
National Security Ministry (KNB, the renamed KGB). No answer has arrived
in reply to the church�s appeal to the city executive committee and when the
church bought a generator an electrician arrived to questioned them, later
admitting that officials from the KNB had sent him. Head of the Department of
the Justice of Ministry in Baku that registers religious organisations conceded
that �there is no direct indication� in the law; nevertheless, a religious group
�must have registration to function�. �We need to create a new law� to increase
state oversight of religious groups he concluded.

BELARUS: NEW RULES FOR FOREIGN PRIESTS �CONTRADICT THE
LAW� (9 May). �Our laws correspond to all international standards. However,
those who apply the laws in practice are governed not by the letter nor even the
spirit of the law, but by instructions issued by the authorities which do not in
fact have the status of law,� according to a lawyer working for the procuracy in
Minsk. Such appears to be the case in the statute adopted on 4 April entitled
�Statute on the system of inviting foreign clergy to the Republic of Belarus and
their activity on its territory�. Point 1 establishes the procedure for inviting and
transferring foreign priests as well as appointing and replacing leaders of
religious associations within Belarus. Article 7 of Belarus� law on freedom of
conscience declares that the state does not interfere in the activity of religious
organisations.

BELARUS: STAND-OFF OVER CATHOLIC PRIEST CONTINUES (9
May). �Many clergy who work here in Belarus�demand nothing and do
nothing. We do not have�any problem with them. But we do not need priests
like the Polish priest Korolyak, who�stir up the people with their feverish
activity,� - perhaps the Council of Minister�s source was alluding to the soup
kitchen Fr Korolyak organised and the pharmacy he has tried to set up for the
poor. While parishioners continue to guard him, Catholic priest Fr Korolyak
has stated he will abide by his Cardinal�s instructions to remain at his parish in
Brest. Receiving orders from a higher court, the regional court is studying the
church committee�s complaint; meanwhile a KBG directorate has allegedly
been ordered to �sort out� the priest and to �work on the cases� of all other
foreign clergy in Belarus.

BELARUSIAN PAPER INCITES RELIGIOUS HOSTILITY - SO FAR
WITH IMPUNITY (8 May). In the wake of the publication in Belarus� second
largest newspaper of what many complain was an article inspiring religious
hostility against Protestants, there are few who believe the Protestants
complaints will be heard - despite it being a criminal offence under Belarusian
law. The article alleges that Protestants carry out rituals using human blood and
human sacrifice, have threatened �many� Orthodox priests with physical
violence and states �Neo-Protestantism in fact is aiming not so much for
religious as political, economic and military goals�. Representatives of the
Roman Catholic and Orthodox Church confirmed on the basis of anonymity
that the article was �simply disgraceful�, and the bishop of a Protestant Union
doubted his letter to the newspaper would be published. The State Committee
for Religious and Ethnic Affairs deputy chairman told Keston that the article
was normal in conditions of �freedom of the press�.

ZELJKO GRUJIC RELEASED, EIGHT MORE IN PRISON (28 April).
ZELJKO GRUJIC, conscientious objector and Christian believer, who was
serving a five-year sentence for refusing to bear arms during the 1999 NATO
attack on Yugoslavia, was released on 14 April 2000. The panel of judges of
the Supreme Military Court of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia commuted
his sentence from five years to one year which he had already served. Grujic
will return to his old job and plans to send Bibles to newly made friends still in
prison. He also hopes to organise fellow conscientious objectors in order to
lobby the government for a consistent alternative service option. The general
secretary of the Yugoslav Association for Religious Freedom told Keston they
had successfully petitioned for the release of two other men sentenced for their
religious beliefs and are investigating the cases of eight imprisoned Jehovah�s
Witnesses as well.

NINTH EASTER WITHOUT CHURHES FOR CRIMEAN GREEK
CATHOLICS (9 May). In Yalta they meet in a Roman Catholic church but in
Sevastopol they rent a secular building whose lease expires in August. The
Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was suppressed by the Soviet authorities
during World War II and was relegalised only in 1989. The Department for
Religious Affairs in Sevastopol claimed it had offered two sites but Fr Nikolai
countered one was by a rubbish dump and the other on the side of a mountain.
Yalta�s St Nicholas parish�s allocated land has been changed four times, each
time after numerous bureaucratic delays.

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