KESTON NEWS SERVICE
Issue 10, Articles 10-12, 6 October 2000

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

SUMMARIES:
I. YUGOSLAVIA: SERBIAN PATRIARCH HOLDS PUBLIC PRAYER
SERVICE AND HELPS PRESIDENT KOSTUNICA reports Keston Institute.
Serbian Orthodox Patriarch PAVLE last night issued a call to all Yugoslavs to
participate in a public prayer service for peace and reconciliation in
Yugoslavia, held today, 6 October, at 5pm at St Sava's Cathedral in Belgrade.
During the last few days it has become clear how close the Serbian Orthodox
Church is to the Yugoslav president-elect Dr VOJISLAV KOSTUNICA, a
practising church member. Last night Dr Kostunica visited the Patriarch to ask
for spiritual guidance. The Synod and the Patriarch issued an appeal for peace,
calm and no revenge. The Russian Foreign Minister also visited the Patriarch.

II. YUGOSLAVIA: MINORITY RELIGIOUS BODIES CAUTIOUSLY
WELCOME NEW ADMINISTRATION. In a series of interviews with Keston
News Service today (6 October), leaders of many of Yugoslavia's minority
religious bodies have expressed support for the change of leadership in
Belgrade, although many remain cautious about how the political situation will
develop and the implications of the change of government for their
communities.

III. KAZAKHSTAN: `STOP ACTIVITY UNTIL YOU REGISTER',
BAPTISTS TOLD. A Baptist church near the Kazakh capital Astana must
`stop its activity' until the government registers it. Local officials and a judge
insist that churches must register to function, although Kazakh law does not
require this and Kazakhstan's international human rights commitments does not
allow it to impose such a restriction on religious activity.
______________________________________

I. YUGOSLAVIA: SERBIAN PATRIARCH HOLDS PUBLIC PRAYER
SERVICE AND HELPS PRESIDENT KOSTUNICA

by Branko Bjelajac, Keston News Service

Serbian Orthodox Patriarch PAVLE last night issued a call to all Yugoslavs to
participate in a public prayer service for peace and reconciliation in
Yugoslavia, held today, 6 October, at 5pm at St Sava's Cathedral in Belgrade.
During the last few days it has become clear how close the Serbian Orthodox
Church is to the Yugoslav president-elect Dr VOJISLAV KOSTUNICA, a
practising church member. Last night Dr Kostunica visited the Patriarch to ask
for spiritual guidance. The Synod and the Patriarch issued an appeal for peace,
calm and no revenge.

Most of the Orthodox bishops are in their dioceses and some are in the
opposition headquarters. Yesterday, 5 October, Bishop ARTEMIJE of Raska
and Prizren - a long-time opponent of Milosevic - issued a statement of support
to Dr Kostunica, `elected President of the FRY by the will of the people', and to
the demonstrators in Belgrade. `It is with regret that we are unable to be
physically with you today,' Bishop Artemije wrote from Gracanica in Kosovo,
`but we assure you that we are with you in our prayers and our thoughts.'

The one voice of support for former president SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC
among the Serbian Orthodox hierarchy came earlier from Bishop FILARET of
Mileseva, but his statement was condemned by the Church, which has backed
Dr Kostunica.

`It is difficult to make a statement about all last night's events in Yugoslavia.
We hope it will all end peacefully and that our people will move toward
prosperity and a better life,' declared Dr RADOVAN BIGOVIC, dean of the
Orthodox Theological Faculty in Belgrade and a prominent theologian. `We are
praying for the whole situation. I think there is a lot of positive energy and,
thanks be to God, it will all end well,' he told Keston News Service. `We need
peace, and not only the Serbs but also other peoples living in Yugoslavia.
These are times of unrest, and that is why the Patriarch invited all believers to
participate in this open air prayer service in Belgrade.'

Dr Bigovic welcomed the fact that the new president is a believer. `Dr
Kostunica came and asked to speak with the Patriarch, which I see as perfectly
normal. We are sorry this was not the case during the rule of former president
Milosevic. Things could have been different.'

Russian Foreign Minister IGOR IVANOV visited Patriarch Pavle today as part
of his mission to Belgrade. (END)

II. YUGOSLAVIA: MINORITY RELIGIOUS BODIES CAUTIOUSLY
WELCOME NEW ADMINISTRATION

by Branko Bjelajac and Felix Corley, Keston News Service

In a series of interviews with Keston News Service today (6 October), leaders
of many of Yugoslavia's minority religious bodies have expressed support for
the change of leadership in Belgrade, although many remain cautious about
how the political situation will develop and the implications of the change of
government for their communities.

Among the most enthusiastic was ZARKO DJORDJEVIC, pastor of the Novi
Sad Baptist church, the largest Baptist church in Yugoslavia. `This opportunity
has been given to us by God, for he desires people to live peacefully, to hear
the truth and for all to be saved,' he told Keston by telephone from Novi Sad.
`The peace of citizens is a condition for man's peace with God. We had fifty
years of vicious sowing of atheism in the country, and now it is important for
people not to be content merely with cosmetic changes, with political changes,
but to strive for inward changes. Only the new man can create new relations,
and our desire is for people to repent and to believe in the Gospel.'

The President of the Union of the Jewish Communities in Yugoslavia, ACA
SINGER, also welcomed the change of government. `Taking into consideration
the situation in the country and that this Union represents nine communities in
all of the country, we say that according to our Statute we are in support of all
initiatives to better the situation regarding human rights, xenophobia, religious
freedom and rights,' he told Keston in Belgrade. `We welcome the new
government in expectation that it will truly be democratic and work toward
better understanding among people, despite the fact that we are not a political
organisation and that we are not taking any action in this present crisis.
However, because of our Statute and stand on human rights, we are in support
of everything that will work toward the improvement of our situation. We
believe that the changes will bring democracy without bloodshed and we hope
that the long-awaited and much-needed help will soon start to come to us all.'

Despite the fact that it is Friday, the Muslim holy day, HADZI HAMDIJA
EFENDI HUSUFSPAHIC, mufti of the Belgrade Islamic Community, gave
Keston his reactions to the dramatic events: `We, the Muslims of Serbia, united
in the Muslim Faith Community of Serbia, are citizens who respect the country
and the people of the country. Every citizen voted for his choice and we did not
interfere. We desire, of course, that there be no bloodshed or destruction, for
this could be very dangerous. We are telling our believers to be at peace and
with dignity as they were throughout all the events, and to preserve good
relations with their neighbours and with the government, which is also our
religious responsibility. We believe it will be better, for our country to return to
the international community, for the country and the people are poor now
because of the sanctions. We would like to be treated with respect as people
and as a country, for we have founded many of these organisations.'

Father LEOPOLD ROCHMES, vicar-general of the Catholic archdiocese of
Belgrade, told Keston by telephone that he had only watched the Belgrade
demonstrations on the television and was some distance from the city centre.
He declared that Catholics `have not been so involved with others' in the
political upheavals. `We took no part in the demonstrations. We Catholics are a
minority, although a large minority of more than half a million. But we are
pleased Kostunica will be the new president. The Serbian people are happy and
we're fellow citizens. We always hail democracy.' Father Rochmes added that
both Archbishop FRANC PERKO and his coadjutor bishop are currently in
Rome.

Yet some remain cautious. Bishop JAN VALENTI of the Slovak Evangelical
Lutheran Church told Keston from Novi Sad that he was `not yet able' to give
his verdict on developments. `We don't know what will be tomorrow. I hope
democracy will triumph.' Two other Protestant leaders contacted by Keston
declined to give any reaction. (END)

III. KAZAKHSTAN: `STOP ACTIVITY UNTIL YOU REGISTER',
BAPTISTS TOLD

by Felix Corley, Keston News Service

In the wake of a court order that a Baptist church meeting in a small town near
the Kazakh capital Astana must `stop its activity' until it gets registration with
the government, local procuracy officials have told Keston News Service that
the `appropriate organs' will take steps to prevent the Baptists from meeting.
The procurator and the judge who presided over the hearing have insisted to
Keston that religious groups must have registration in order to function,
although Kazakh law does not specifically require it and Kazakhstan's
international human rights commitments do not allow it to impose such a
restriction on religious activity.

The Baptist church in the town of Astrakhanka in Akmola region, which is led
by Pastor ALEKSANDR GORBUNOV, belongs to the Council of Churches of
Evangelical Christians/Baptists, which refuses to register in all the post-Soviet
republics where it operates. It is highly unlikely that the Astrakhanka church
will halt its activity, so further action against the pastor and the congregation
appear inevitable.

The procurator of the Astrakhanka district, ADAI UVAIDILDINOV, lodged a
suit with the Astrakhanka district court to halt the church's activity until it
gained state registration. The court, presided over by Judge NURILYA
KASIMOVA, ruled on 20 September that under Article 11 of Kazakhstan's
1992 law on religion the church should be registered in order to function and
gave the church 15 days to achieve this. It ordered the church to stop
functioning until it gained registration.

ANNA IVANOVA, head of chancellery of the procuracy, told Keston from
Astrakhanka on 5 October that the procurator had written to Gorbunov `several
times' warning of his failure to fulfil the `instruction' to register the church,
adding that he had already been fined 1000 or 1500 tenge (7 or 10 US dollars)
last spring under the administrative code for failing to abide by a ruling to
register the church.

`The Baptists didn't do anything bad,' Uvaidildinov insisted to Keston by
telephone from Astrakhanka on 6 October, `it's simply that they need
registration in order to function. I proposed that they register, but they
categorically refused.' Asked which specific law requires religious groups to
register he pointed to Article 9 of the religion law. In a separate telephone
interview the same day, Judge Kasimova maintained that Article 7 of the
religion law was the one that specified a requirement for registration, adding
that Part 3 of Article 109 of the Kazakh Civil Code also echoed this
requirement for groups that have their headquarters outside Kazakhstan.

`Gorbunov declared at the hearing that their headquarters was in Moscow, that
the church holds congresses and that only a congress can adopt a decision to
register,' Kasimova reported. `This means their headquarters is outside
Kazakhstan and they therefore fall under the scope of this article.' She repeated
Uvaidildinov's view that the Baptists did nothing wrong, merely that they did
not have a statute governing their organisation or official registration.

In their own statement on the case dated 23 September, the Baptists reported
that the court had ordered the halt to their activity under Article 11 of the
religion law, which allows a court to `suspend or terminate' a religious group's
activity if it conflicts with its statute or the law. However, Keston cannot find
any specific article in the religion law that specifically requires registration for
religious groups. Article 9 describes the procedures for acquiring registration,
but does not make it a requirement. Article 7 defines the term `religious
association' and speaks about registered charters, and also includes a point that
religious associations with headquarters outside Kazakhstan `may be guided by
their statutes' provided their activity does not violate the law and their statutes
are registered. However, it does not require groups - even those with
headquarters abroad - to register. Article 109 Part 3 of the Civil Code merely
repeats the formulation of this part of Article 7 of the religion law.

Contacted again to clarify his interpretation in view of Keston's reading of the
law, Uvaidildinov was irritated: `I ask you not to ring me up again. You're
disturbing my work.' He then put the phone down. For her part, Kasimova
continued to insist that Kazakh law requires registration and argued that if
Gorbunov had any objection to the court's ruling he could challenge the
decision to the regional court within 15 days. `Gorbunov didn't agree with the
ruling, but this was handed to him and we haven't seen him since,' Kasimova
told Keston.

In their statement, the Baptists claimed that if they failed to halt the church's
activity, Gorbunov would face criminal responsibility with the possibility of a
fine of up to 150,000 tenge (some 1050 US dollars) or imprisonment of up to
two years. However, Ivanova and Kasimova declared that there would be no
criminal case against Gorbunov. `This is not true,' Kasimova declared
categorically. `The question is not even being raised of a criminal case. There
will probably be an administrative fine for failing to abide by a decision of a
court.' She was unable to specify which article of the administrative code
Gorbunov was likely to be accused under, citing the fact that a new code has
recently been issued. Ivanova confirmed that if the Baptists failed to halt their
activity a `further investigation and a legal case' would be initiated against
Gorbunov.

Procuracy officials seem determined to ensure that the church will not meet
again without registration. Ivanova declared that officials would use `all means'
to halt their activity, while Uvaidildinov agreed. `The appropriate organs will
control and prevent the functioning of the church in accordance with the law,'
he declared. He refused to identify the `appropriate organs'. (END)