Tuesday 23 November

By Tatyana Titova and Geraldine Fagan, Keston News Service

KONSTANTIN TITOV, governor of Samara oblast on the Volga, has ordered
all religious groups to be registered with their present charters, an adviser to the
governor told Keston News Service on 18 November. MIKHAIL FEDOROV,
adviser to the Samara administration on religious affairs, was clearly upset by
the decision, which he attributed in part to pressure on Titov from STROBE
TALBOTT of the U.S. State Department and on Russia's Foreign Minister
IGOR IVANOV from Pope JOHN PAUL II. The governor's order will
apparently resolve in favour of the province's Roman Catholic parishes their
conflict with Fedorov and his colleagues over points in Russia's secular law
which seem to contradict the traditional canon laws of both Orthodox
Christians and Catholics. (See Keston News Service, 17 November).

Fedorov told Keston that Titov's order would cover 'even the Mormons',
despite what he said was the Mormons' failure to submit all the information
requested for their re-registration. He said that many local congregations in the
province did not agree with the standard parochial charters preferred by their
bishops, and that he therefore feared a wave of appeals to the courts by
congregations anxious to retain control of their property.

According to Fedorov, Roman Catholics in particular had bombarded Titov
with telegrams, so that it was impossible for the administration to maintain its
current stance, especially in the run up to December's parliamentary elections.

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(c) Keston Institute 1999