KESTON NEWS SERVICE: 11.00, 8 August 2001.
Reporting on violations of religious liberty and on religion in communist
and post-communist lands.
______________________________________

UKRAINE: NEW REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS � WHO
BENEFITS? A new draft Ukrainian the law on religion is in the final
stages of discussion, Keston News Service has learned. The text
introduces a number of new harsh provisions compared to the existing
law, covering registration requirements and religious property, education
& the religious activity of foreign citizens (see also following KNS
article). It is unclear how unregistered organisations will be treated. The
first reading of the law was rejected by the Supreme Rada, but it is
unknown when the Supreme Rada will discuss the new draft.

UKRAINE: NEW REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS � WHO
BENEFITS?

by Anna Vassilyeva, Keston News Service

A new draft Ukrainian the law on religion is in the final stages of
discussion, Keston News Service has learned. The text, in the preparation
of which the Ukrainian state Committee for Religious Affairs (CRA)
took an active part, along with members of the All-Ukrainian Council of
Churches and experts introduces a number of new harsh provisions
compared to the existing law, covering registration requirements and
religious property, education & the religious activity of foreign citizens
(see following KNS article).

The concept of the new law reveals the special role of the Ukrainian CRA
chaired by Professor Victor Bondarenko who stressed, in an interview
with Keston in late September 2000, that they "would not interfere into
inner activity of religious organisations and help them in every possible
way", but would not allow one to prevail over another. It is intended to
introduce more rigid centralisation and control of religious organisation.
It is unclear how religious organisations which do not register will be
treated.

For the registration of religious congregations a new requirement is
introduced. The support of 25 members (Article 15), as opposed to ten in
the current legislation is required, and also "the confirmation of the
canonical and organisational subordination indicated in the statute
(articles of association)". In practice the change in the number of
members required could mean changes in registration or the complete
reregistration of religious congregations, in which case the second
demand of written confirmation of the organisational or canonical
subordination could come into effect. During discussion of the draft, in
response to a question from the Association of Independent Charismatic
Churches of Ukraine (Full Gospel) about the possibility of the registering
autonomous congregations, it was stated that there are 1000 autonomous
congregations of various denominations in Ukraine, and that for the
statute of such a congregation to be registered "the relevant information
is included in the statute". However, it remains unclear how this
provision will be applied to autonomous congregations should it become
necessary for them to register amendments or to reregister their statutes,
although "amendments and complementation to statutes ... are proceeded
in the same order and according to the same terms as registration of
statutes" (Art.15, 8).

In instances where a congregation refuses to register the draft law
provides for the "obligatory notification" to the local and executive
authorities of the establishment of the congregation (Article 9, paragraph
3), a provision which is absent from the current law.

At the same time as requiring confirmation from a central religious body
at the time of registration, Article 10, paragraph 3 of the draft introduces
a provision allowing regulation of relations with central bodies (including
those located abroad) which have not been defined in the law "in
accordance with agreements between the appropriate central bodies of
executive authority and religious administrations and central bodies". In
the text of the current law the wording is "state bodies". In this context
the original text of the draft included a provision that "associations of
religious organisations are not legal entities and are represented by their
administrations or central bodies", which was later reworded in
accordance with a suggestion of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church
(Moscow Patriarchate) (Article 7, paragraph 1).

The first reading of the draft law was rejected by deputies of the Supreme
Rada on May 29, so the latest draft was discussed on 17 July by the
members of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches, which was formed
some years ago with assistance of the CRA, and brings together
representatives of the main religious organisations. Though a majority of
religious organisations in the Council confirmed to Keston on August 3
that they had taken part in the discussion, none stated whether any
changes were proposed to the draft, as the responsible persons were
unavailable. It is remains unclear when the next reading of the law in the
Supreme Rada will take place. (END)