KESTON NEWS SERVICE: 11.00, 30 March 2001

I. RUSSIA: FURTHER FOOTDRAGGING OVER KRASNODAR BOOK
CONFISCATION. Twenty months after the administration of Krasnodar
Krai in southern Russia confiscated religious literature from a local
Protestant church, and two and a half months after officials promised its
return, officials have claimed to Keston News Service that the books have
not been handed back because they cannot locate the church leaders to
arrange their return. They have given a new deadline of April for the books'
return.

II. RUSSIA: KRASNODAR PROTESTANTS PROPOSE INTER-
CONFESSIONAL UNION. Protestants in the southern Russian city of
Krasnodar have proposed the creation of an inter-confessional union under
the auspices of the head of the Krasnodar Krai administration, Aleksandr
Tkachov. However, the head of the department for relations with religious
organisations in the Krai administration told Keston News Service she was
unenthusiastic about the proposed new body.

I. RUSSIA: FURTHER FOOTDRAGGING OVER KRASNODAR BOOK
CONFISCATION

by Aleksandr Shchipkov, Keston News Service

Twenty months after the administration of Krasnodar Krai in southern
Russia confiscated all the religious literature from a warehouse owned by a
local Protestant church, the Evangelical Christian missionary union
(ECMU), and two and a half months after officials promised its return,
officials have claimed to Keston News Service that the books have not been
handed back because they cannot locate the church leaders to arrange their
return. However, they have now given a new deadline of April for the books'
return.

The literature - intended for use in the ECMU's missionary work � was
confiscated in July 1999 and has been kept in an administration building
ever since. Liliya Zub, head of the department for relations with religious
organisations in the Krai administration, told Keston on 9 January that all the
books would be returned to the church by the end of January (see KNS 11
January 2001).

However, despite these promises the books have still not been returned. On
26 March, Gennadi Pshenichny, director of the ECMU college, told Keston
that the books, as before, remained in the administration building. On 27
March, Keston asked Zub by telephone why the literature was still
impounded. She replied that she had tried to locate the ECMU leaders, but
had found no-one, and therefore the books had not been returned. `The
decision on the transfer of the books has been taken. I personally have no
objection to their return.'

The same day the ECMU's lawyer, Aleksandr Antipyonok, told Keston by
telephone that the church's pastor Semyon Borodin was indeed currently in
Kiev at a pastoral seminar, but that during the whole of February and March
he had been in Krasnodar. Moreover, Antipyonok himself had met Zub on
12 March during her meeting with representatives of local Protestant
churches (see separate KNS article), but she had said nothing to him about
the administration's intention of returning the books.

Asked by Keston whether the books would be given back to the church, Zub
pledged that this would still happen before Easter, at the beginning of April.
(END)

II. RUSSIA: KRASNODAR PROTESTANTS PROPOSE INTER-
CONFESSIONAL UNION

by Aleksandr Shchipkov, Keston News Service

Protestants in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar have proposed the
creation of an inter-confessional union under the auspices of the head of the
Krasnodar Krai administration, Aleksandr Tkachov. However, the head of
the department for relations with religious organisations in the Krai
administration told Keston News Service she was unenthusiastic about the
proposed new body.

The director of the college of the Evangelical Christian Missionary Union
(ECMU), Gennadi Pshenichny, told Keston by telephone on 26 March that
the initiative had come from the Protestant churches in the Krai, who for
several years have endured a `negative attitude' towards them on the part of
the authorities. Last year the Protestants formed a Union of Protestant
Churches to protect their rights. However, the Union of Protestant Churches
regards it as essential to promote co-operation between a wider range of
religious organisations, believing that the best way to achieve this is to
establish an inter-confessional union under the auspices of the head of the
administration `for the co-ordination of actions and control over the
observance of the rights of religious associations'. They envisaged a local
body along the same lines as the union for co-operation with religious
organisations under the auspices of the Russian president.

Last December, the head of the Krasnodar Krai administration, Nikolai
Kondratenko, under whom the `battle with sects' had gathered strength, lost
the elections to Tkachov. Pshenichny told Keston the Protestants are hoping
the new head of the administration will show more tolerance on issues of
faith and will promote the observance of legislation on freedom of
conscience.

The ECMU's lawyer Aleksandr Antipyonok told Keston by telephone on 27
March that the group that had the idea of founding the union asked Tkachov
to meet it. A meeting was arranged for 12 March, but Tkachov did not turn
up and the only official to attend was Liliya Zub, head of the department for
relations with religious organisations. Antipyonok said no concrete decisions
had been taken as Zub was not empowered to adopt such decisions.

Speaking to Keston on 27 March, Zub declared that she did not support the
idea of creating an inter-confessional union. `It's just another headache. It's
impossible to invite all the religious organisations to join the union, there are
too many of them.' Asked how the head of the administration himself felt
about the idea of forming the union, which would help the administration to
`control the observance of the rights of religious associations', she replied: `I
have drawn up an official report on the Protestants' request, and have sent it
to my superiors.' (END)

Copyright (c) 2001 Keston Institute. All rights reserved.