Issue 7, Articles 26-27, 24 July 2000

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

REREGISTRATION PROCESS. With just over five months to go before the
expiry of the extended deadline for the reregistration of religious organisations
under Russia�s controversial 1997 law on religion, many local religious
organisations seem certain to miss the deadline and face compulsory

Muslim, Russian Orthodox (Moscow Patriarchate), Orthodox under other
jurisdictions, Old Believers, Roman Catholic and Jewish groups have been

Monday 24 July 2000

by Tatyana Titova, Keston News Service

With just over five months to go before the expiry of the extended deadline for
the reregistration of religious organisations under Russia's controversial 1997
law on religion, many local religious organisations seem certain to miss the
deadline and face compulsory liquidation (see KNS 30 March 2000).

Compared to the end of last year, by which time 60 per cent of central
organisations and only half the local religious organisations had reregistered,
many religious communities have worked hard to achieve reregistration (see
separate KNS Factfile). Only one centralised religious organisation, one of the
two main Muslim umbrella bodies, has failed to achieve reregistration so far. In
relation to local religious organisations, while at the end of 1999 Muslim
communities and Russian Orthodox parishes were experiencing the most
severe problems with reregistration, today the situation of Russian Orthodox
parishes has improved markedly. The most serious problems relate to
differences within a religious organisation, as well as to the complexity of the
documents that need to be submitted. According to lawyers, religious
organisations have finally realised that they must stimulate the reregistration
process, and now documents are flooding in from local organisations.
Protestant denominations have achieved the most success in reregistration.

Accurate figures showing how many organisations have been reregistered in
the past six months will be made known when the Ministry of Justice presents
its six-monthly report, due at the end of July.

ALEKSANDR KUDRYAVTSEV, head of the department for registration of
religious organisations at Russia's Ministry of Justice, confirmed to Keston on
26 June that the process of reregistering centralised religious organisations is
nearly complete. `On behalf of the Ministry of Justice I can say that the flow
has subsided - almost all the central organisations have been reregistered. There
remains only the Central Spiritual Administration of Muslims, headed by
TALGAT TADZHUDDIN.' According to Kudryavtsev, currently Muslims are
experiencing the most complex situation with reregistration. `The process is
being held back by a battle between various Islamic groups.'

The Moscow-based lawyer VLADIMIR RYAKHOVSKY, head of the Slavic
Centre for Law and Justice, told Keston on 26 June that he believes that despite
the extension of the deadline until the end of this year, there will still be
organisations that will not manage to achieve reregistration. But his centre,
which is involved in religious liberty cases, has learned of problems with the
application of the law in the provinces. `Our legal centre has several cases
where religious organisations have been refused reregistration. For example, in
Irkutsk a charismatic church has been refused on the grounds that the pastor is
a foreign citizen and that detailed information about the structure of an
organisation had not been submitted. If the case is adjourned once more, the
period for reregistration will already have elapsed.' (END)

Monday 24 July 2000

With just over five months to go before the expiry of the reregistration deadline
for religious organisations (see separate KNS article), here is a round-up of the
current position for a number of major religious faiths in Russia.

The Central Spiritual Administration of Muslims (CSAM), whose headquarters
is based in Ufa in Bashkortostan and headed by TALGAT TADZHUDDIN,
submitted documents for reregistration as a centralised religious organisation
back in December 1999. According to the CSAM's representative in Moscow,
RASTAM VALEYEV, the Ministry of Justice then demanded lists of the
communities that are members of the CSAM. `These lists exist and we are
hoping to hear very soon that the CSAM has been reregistered,' Valeyev told
Keston on 10 July. But it appears the Justice Ministry has been unwilling to
accept the CSAM's statute. ALI VYACHESLAV POLOSIN, an adviser to the
Committee of the State Duma on public associations and religious
organisations, told Keston that the CSAM's application contained
`uncompromising demands'. `They presented themselves as an administration
for all the countries of the CIS, which contradicts international law,' Polosin
maintained. He added that the CSAM's application also claims authority over
all mosques on Russian Federation territory.

The CSAM secretary in Ufa admitted to Keston on 26 June that their Spiritual
Administration is experiencing difficulty with reregistration of local
organisations - no more than 25 per cent have been reregistered. The secretary
blames the complexity of the procedure for submission of documents for the
slow reregistration. This was confirmed by their Moscow representative.
Valeyev admits that the main problem with reregistration of local communities
has been the sluggishness on the part of the Muslims themselves.

The alternative Muslim organisation - the Spiritual Administration of Muslims
in the European part of Russia (led by mufti RAVIL GAINUTDIN) - told
Keston that up to half its local organisations still remain to be reregistered.

ALEKSANDR KUDRYAVTSEV of the Ministry of Justice in Moscow reports
that `matters are at different stages in various regions' for reregistration of local
entities of the Russian Orthodox Church. For example, according to figures
from the Ministry of Justice, in Vladimir district all Russian Orthodox parishes
have already been reregistered. VIKTOR KALININ, chief lawyer of the
Moscow Patriarchate, confirmed to Keston on 27 June that `almost all parishes
of the Russian Orthodox Church have been reregistered and there is a hope that
all of them will succeed in being reregistered within the time allowed'.
Reregistration was speeded up after the Church's lawyers drew up a standard
form, in which one needs only to insert the name of the parish and the
corresponding diocese. This was circulated among parishes at the end of last

The Russian Orthodox Church (Autonomous) - previously called the Free
Russian Orthodox Church - is in the best position of other Orthodox
jurisdictions. Bishop FYODOR of Suzdal diocese told Keston on 12 July that
there are practically no problems with reregistration. Father MIKHAIL
ARDOV, priest of the parish of the Holy Tsar and Martyr Nikolai and all the
New Martyrs and Confessors, told Keston that his church had been
reregistered, and that once the diocese had been reregistered, the parishes
followed. The local justice administration had asked for slight changes to be
made to the standard application form distributed by the church.

As for the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA), neither the diocese of
Ishim and Siberia, nor the Moscow diocese has been registered, and
consequently its parishes have not been reregistered. Father ALEKSI
BLAGOV, a priest in the ROCA diocese, told Keston on 11 July that he
believes `no-one is taking this problem seriously, because our bishop does not
live in Russia'. According to the secretary of Bishop YEVTIKHI
(KUROCHKIN) of the Ishim and Siberia diocese, the bishop is actively trying
to achieve reregistration of 40 of his parishes, but `the problem is that several
parishes have never been registered until now, and so they will not register the
diocese, and they won't reregister the registered parishes because the diocese is

The Old Believers are also experiencing reregistration difficulties. MIKHAIL
SHAKHOV, the director of the Old Believer research centre, told Keston on 4
July that not all Pomortsy (Bespopovtsy) have been reregistered, because for
internal reasons the central organisation the Russian Pomortsy Council has not
yet been reregistered. The Russian Orthodox Old-Rite Church of the
Belokrinitsa Concord reregistered its metropolitanate last year and drew up
standard application forms which local organisations have used to be
reregistered. Among the Novozybkovtsy (Church of Old Orthodox Christian
Old Believers, based in Novozybkov), internal differences are hampering
reregistration. The Archbishopric and the parishes
cannot agree on the application form.

The vicar-general of the Moscow-based Apostolic Administration for Latin-rite
Catholics in European Russia, Father BOGDAN SEWERYNIK, told Keston on
29 June that all Catholic parishes that have applied for reregistration have
succeeded. For example, in his diocese 48 parishes have been registered and
nine more are in the process of registration.

The head of the executive committee of the Congress of Jewish Religious
Communities and Organisations (CJRCO), Rabbi ZINOVI KOGAN, told
Keston on 10 July that Jewish religious organisations have had no problems
with reregistration. In CJRCO and in the alternative organisation of orthodox
Jews - the Federation of Jewish Communities in Russia - between 5 per cent
and 10 per cent of communities have not yet been reregistered. (END)

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