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  • » 07/08/2010, 00.00

    RUSSIA

    Rostov: Pentecostal Church denied building permit because of Orthodox pressure

    Nina Achmatova

    The Christ the Saviour Pentecostal Church was planning to build a place of worship in the Cossack village of Veshenskaia. A petition with only 20 signatures (out of a population of 10,000) was enough to get the Protestant Church labelled “morally corrupt”.
    Moscow (AsiaNews) – Minorities continue to suffer from discrimination and have limits put on their right to religious freedom in Russia. Like Jehovah’s Witnesses, Evangelical Pentecostals are now having a rough time because of the rising influence of the Russian Orthodox Church on the country.

    The complaint comes from the Slavic Centre for Justice and Law (SCJL). In an interview, lawyer Inna Zabrebina told the SCJL that the administration of Sholokhov (Rostov Province) refused to grant Christ the Saviour Pentecostal Church a permit to build a house of worship in the Cossack village of Veshenskaia. The decision was taken after a group of local Orthodox Christians led by Archpriest Vladimir Poliakov objected to the construction arguing, “we do not need more churches.”

    For lawyer Zabrebina, local authorities acted unlawfully. “No doubt, representatives of the local government should pay attention to the opinion of residents of the district and heed it.” However,” a “refusal must be legislatively based.” In this case, “It is not clear why the administration of the district heeded these 20 Orthodox citizens, while in the Cossack village of Veshenskaia there are around 10,000 residents.”

    “There have never been any complaints against the ‘Christ the Saviour’ Pentecostal Church of Christians of the Evangelical faith,” Ms Zabrebina said. “The land has been prepared in the required form, the parcel of land is the legal property of the KhVE Church, and it was purchased for the construction of a house of worship.”

    In this case,” the lawyer added, “the decision to refuse the Church permission to construct a house of worship was made in favour of another religious organisation” on the basis of an “appeal signed, inter alia, by an Orthodox priest,” using “a confrontational tone, offensive to the Protestant Pentecostal Church which allegedly ‘corrupts people morally’."

    This, she insisted, violates the constitution of the Russian Federation, which “guarantees the equality of rights without respect to religious affiliation.”

    On such issues, Russian officials often violate the law or even ignore it, the lawyer said, not realising that they are breaking the law.

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    See also

    07/05/2009 RUSSIA
    Council of Religious Experts threatens religious freedom
    Christians, including some Orthodox, and Muslims have slammed the council set up within the Justice Ministry. A row breaks out over the intransigent views of its chairman, Aleksandr Dvorkin, and accusations of incompetence levelled at its members.

    17/03/2009 RUSSIA
    Medvedev steers religions toward young people, but blocks Jehovah's witnesses
    The Russian president is involving the traditional confessions in programs on behalf of young people. The Kremlin wants to reinforce relations with the Orthodox, make the Patriarch of Moscow a point of reference for all religions, and attribute a strong political value to his position. Jehovah's Witnesses accused of social isolation.

    03/11/2010 RUSSIA
    Attack on Christians in Russian Caucasus
    Three churches in Karachayevo-Cherkessia set on fire, but Muslims are being targeted too: Imam killed in Dagestan. Attempts to "destabilize the inter-religious peace."

    26/01/2009 TURKEY
    Saving the monastery of Mor Gabriel, to guarantee a multicultural Turkey
    Muslim leaders are trying to destroy it, and have sued the monastery for alleged proselytism. A spiritual and cultural center for the Syriac Orthodox, it still uses ancient Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus. During the 1960's, at least 130,000 Syriacs lived in Tur Abdin. Today, there are only 3,000. The minority community hopes that the European Union will come to its defense with an appeal to Ankara.

    30/09/2008 KAZAKHSTAN
    In Astana, parliament is approving a law for "religious unfreedom"
    The lower chamber has approved the text, which will soon go to the senate for final review. The authors of the law refuse to release the text. But human rights activists say that it contains restrictive measures to wipe out many religious groups that today are permitted. No interest in observations from the OSCE.



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