KESTON NEWS SERVICE: 20.00, 6 March 2001

RUSSIA: LAWYERS CHALLENGE THREATENED EXPULSION OF
GHANAIAN PASTOR
The Ghanaian pastor of a Pentecostal church in the town of Novomoskovsk
near Tula, 200 kms (125 miles) south of Moscow, may be expelled from
Russia on the grounds that the church does not have authorisation to employ
foreign workers, Keston News Service has learned. Lawyers representing
Pastor Joseph Adu Baah have lodged a complaint; the appeal will be heard in
a district court in Tula, but no date has yet been set for the hearing.

RUSSIA: LAWYERS CHALLENGE THREATENED EXPULSION OF
GHANAIAN PASTOR

by Tatyana Titova, Keston News Service

Attempts are underway to expel a Ghanaian pastor from Russia on the
grounds that the church at which he serves does not have authorisation from
the Department for Labour Migration to employ foreign workers. Joseph
Adu Baah has served as pastor of the Pentecostal church Istochnik Sily
(Power Source) in the town of Novomoskovsk near Tula, 200 kms (125
miles) south of Moscow, on a contractual basis for the past five years.
Vladimir Ryakhovsky, director of the Slavic Centre for Law and Justice in
Moscow which is representing Pastor Baah, told Keston News Service on 6
March that they have lodged a complaint against what they argue is an
unlawful demand on the part of the local agency in Tula region of the
Ministry for Federal Affairs and National and Migration Policy. The appeal
will be heard in a district court in Tula, although no date has yet been set for
the hearing.

The Istochnik Sily church is a member of the Russian Union of Evangelical
Christians (Pentecostals), led by Sergei Ryakhovsky.

Svetlana Nuzhdina, who is responsible for the reception and registration of
foreign citizens at the church, told Keston on 12 February that on 22 January
she, the leader of the church and Pastor Baah were summoned to the city
visa and registration department, where officials read them a letter from the
Tula agency of the Ministry for Federal Affairs announcing that the pastor
would be expelled from the country in 10 days' time on the grounds that the
church did not have permission to use foreign labour. Later, at the local
administration offices, church representatives were informed that after the
expiry of his visa in March, Pastor Baah would in any case have to leave the
country.

Nuzhdina reported that on 26 February the pastor received a new visa, valid
for a year, and had tried to register it at the local visa and registration
department, but had been refused on the basis of instructions from the
migration service.

The local agency of the Ministry for Federal Affairs in Tula region explains
in a letter sent to the church that an investigation conducted on 20 October
last year by its officials had established that the church had infringed the
regulations on the recruitment and exploitation of foreign labour. It claimed
that employing Pastor Baah without permission violated the December 1993
presidential decree on the recruitment and exploitation of foreign labour
under which `an employer who recruits foreign citizens to work on a
contractual basis must obtain appropriate authorisation from the Ministry for
Federal Affairs, and foreign citizens must obtain confirmation of their right
to work'. The letter claims that the provisions of point 18 of the regulations
on the recruitment and exploitation of foreign labour cannot apply to Pastor
Baah `as he is working on a contractual basis in the religious organisation of
the evangelical church Istochnik Sily and receives a salary, for which
documentary evidence has been produced by the relevant organisations'.

Vladimir Ryakhovsky maintains that the ministry's demand is unlawful. `It's
true that the order on the recruitment and exploitation of foreign labour says
that the migration service must give an organisation a licence for the
recruitment of foreign labour and that a citizen must receive permission to
work in the Russian Federation,' he told Keston on 1 March. `But in point 18
of the regulations there is a list of categories of citizen to whom this
legislation does not extend, including religious workers who are working in
a professional capacity at officially registered religious organisations and
societies, and this is what we have in the case of Pastor Joseph Adu Baah.'

Yelena Semichastnova, a consultant at the Committee for work with the
regions and public associations at the Novomoskovsk administration,
reported that the local administration is unhappy about the church's activity.
`Their work has developed rapidly - they already have a daughter church
registered in Tula, and there is a sister church in Novomoskovsk,' she
complained to Keston on 27 February. Semichastnova insisted Pastor Baah's
employment as pastor was illegal because he was paid. `The migration
service discovered only recently that he receives a salary from the church. If
he were working on a voluntary basis, there would not be a problem. But
now, if he does not apply for permission to work, he will have to leave.'
(END)

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