KESTON NEWS SERVICE: 20.00, 9 January 2001

RUSSIA: ORTHODOX VOW TO CONTINUE ANTI-PENTECOSTAL
PICKET. In Yekaterinburg Russian Orthodox parishioners have been picketing
religious services of the Pentecostal New Life church, handing out `anti-sect'
literature. These demonstrations are coordinated by the missionary department
of the Yekaterinburg diocese, and are set to continue, despite the opposition of
the Pentecostals.

RUSSIA: ORTHODOX VOW TO CONTINUE ANTI-PENTECOSTAL
PICKET

by Mikhail Edelstein, Keston News Service

Russian Orthodox parishioners in Yekaterinburg, the largest city in the Urals,
have been picketing religious services of the Pentecostal New Life church,
handing out `anti-sect' literature to those attending. The Orthodox priest who
heads the missionary department of the Yekaterinburg diocese has confirmed to
Keston News Service that these demonstrations are coordinated by the diocese
and has pledged that they will continue, despite the opposition of the
Pentecostals. The New Life church, which belongs to the Russian Union of
Evangelicals-Christians (Pentecostals) led by Sergei Ryakhovsky, regularly
attracts 1100 people to its Sunday services.

Svetlana Zagainova, lawyer to the New Life church, told Keston on 29
December that the demonstrations have been taking place at varying intervals
over the last two years but have recently been happening every Sunday. The
demonstrators assemble at the Lavrov House of Culture, which the Pentecostals
rent for services, where they display `anti-sect' banners and distribute leaflets to
those arriving for services as well as to passers-by. Zagainova added that the
local media, both printed and electronic, frequently run items discrediting the
Pentecostals.

Members of an extremist political organisation, the Russian National Union
(RNU), which had the support of Nikon (Mironov), former bishop of
Yekaterinburg and Verkhoture, have in previous months taken part in the
demonstrations. Since the appointment of Bishop Vikenty (Morar) to the
diocese, however, there have been no reports of RNU members attending the
picket.

Father Vladimir Zaitsev, head of the missionary department of the
Yekaterinburg diocese, told Keston on 3 January that the pickets are led by
parishioners from several of the city's Orthodox churches. As a rule between 5
and 15 people take part. The missionary department coordinates the
demonstrators, supplies them with `antisectarian' literature and helps them
prepare and distribute leaflets. The aim of the demonstrators, according to
Father Vladimir, is `to make people aware of the other side of the coin' and to
warn them of the dangers of such religious organisations.

Members of the New Life church have complained to the demonstrators a
number of times, but so far there has been no direct conflict between Orthodox
and Pentecostals. (END)


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