RUSSIA: FURTHER FOOT-DRAGGING OVER PENTECOSTAL BUILDING
APPLICATION?
For the past year, the leaders of the Ivanovo Christian Centre have been applying in
vain for permission to turn the former factory building they have bought into their
church centre. The city authorities have imposed ever-new conditions for permission,
and the application is currently languishing in the legal department of the city
administration.

RUSSIA: FURTHER FOOT-DRAGGING OVER PENTECOSTAL BUILDING
APPLICATION?
by Mikhail Edelstein, Keston News Service

For the past year, the leaders of the Ivanovo Christian Centre (ICC) have been
applying in vain for permission to turn a former textile factory building they have
bought into their church centre. The authorities in Ivanovo - a city with a population
of almost 500,000 situated 190 miles (300 kms) north-east of Moscow - have imposed
on the Pentecostals ever new conditions for the granting of permission. Currently, the
church's application is languishing in the legal department of the city administration.

Dmitri Blagoyev of the ICC told Keston News Service on 30 November that the saga
began at the beginning of 1999, when the church bought the building from a large
textile company which was then on the brink of bankruptcy. The church proposed to
convert the two-storey building into a centre to include a hall for prayer meetings,
premises for children's work and a cafeteria. In August 1999, the church appealed to
the mayor of Ivanovo, Valeri Troyeglazov, for permission for the conversion. By
October of the same year church leaders had collected all the necessary signatures for
their application, other than that of the mayor himself. According to information
reaching Blagoyev, Troyeglazov had refused to endorse the application, saying that he
would not allow `sectarians' into the city centre. It was then, according to Blagoyev,
that the mayor instructed the city's lawyers to find formal grounds to refuse the
application.

At the beginning of 2000, the church received the official rejection, which cited the
absence of documents proving that the church owned the land on which the building
stands. In March, the ICC submitted an application to the city administration to gain
ownership of the land. The secretary of the city committee for land resources and land
use, Nina Smirnova, told Keston on 30 November that the application had been
approved by her committee in the summer and had been sent to the mayor on 3
August. All the necessary documentation had been obtained over the past two months,
and since 10 October, the church's application has lain untouched in the legal
department of the city administration.

However a specialist at the legal department, Svetlana Nesterenko, who has direct
responsibility for a decision on the application, told Keston by telephone on 30
November that she would not comment on the case. She said that she had not yet had
time to familiarise herself with the issue as she had seen the relevant documents for
the first time only a few hours before Keston spoke to her. Nesterenko was unable to
explain where the documents had been for the past six weeks.
(END)