VISA RESTRICTIONS STILL THREATEN FOREIGN CLERGY IN RUSSIA



by Tatyana Titova and Lawrence A. Uzzell, Keston News Service



Contrary to some reports being circulated over the Internet, Keston

News Service has found that new limitations on visas for foreign

religious workers in Russia have not necessarily been reversed in

practice. Though the Foreign Ministry has formally endorsed a

reversal in the limitations which Keston reported several months ago,

that reversal has yet to be accepted by officials in other state

agencies.



According to FR ANTONI GEI, a Roman Catholic priest serving in

Moscow, at least some of his fellow priests are still having problems

- in particular if they state explicitly that they are in Russia for

the purpose of serving as parish clergy rather than for some vague

purpose such as �negotiations�. Even if such priests manage to

obtain one-year, multiple-entry visas as theoretically authorised by

the Foreign Ministry�s new rules, they may find that officials of

OVIR (the office in charge of registering foreign residents in

Russia) are willing to register those visas for only three months -

effectively negating the mild policy favoured by the Foreign

Ministry. For example, Fr Gei told Keston, FR VIKTOR VORONOVICH from

Lithuania recently had to return to his home country in order to get

a new Russian visa.



Unlike Protestant clergy, the great majority of Roman Catholic

priests now serving in Russia are foreign citizens. (Until the early

1990s the Russian Federation had no seminary to train native-born

Russians for the Catholic priesthood.) If OVIR continues to resist

the Foreign Ministry�s position, many of these priests will face the

prospect of having to leave Russia four times a year simply to comply

with state regulations. (END)





THANKSGIVING SERVICE FOR THE LIFE OF JANE ELLIS



Saturday 5 December at St Paul�s church, Robert Adam Street, (off

Baker Street), London. Service at Noon. Refreshments until 3pm. The

service is being organised by long time Keston supporter, Dick

Rodgers. He writes: �The service will be at noon for about an hour

followed by refreshments and more opportunity to meet others and to

speak about Jane�s life and work, in the church lounge, until 3pm.�