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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended January 05, 2001
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 02Jan01

By Kent Larsen

LDS Official Calls New Russian Law 'Unconstitutional'

MOSCOW, RUSSIA -- An LDS official in Moscow called the country's new religion law, which went into effect on Monday, "unconstitutional" under the current Russian constitution. The law requires that religious groups in the country register with local governments, but so far only half the 17,500 religious groups in Russia have registered. Alexei Marchenko, a Moscow representative of the LDS Church, told Agence France Presse "This law contravenes the Russian constitution, which proclaims the equality of religions in Russia."

Under the new law, religious groups must register with local governments to have the right to hold services in public places, distribute literature, own property or invite foreign guests, including missionaries. It is not known if the LDS Church has been able to register in all the regions of Russia where it is active, but the law may limit the Church's ability to register in places where it is currently not active.

Other religions have had difficulty registering. "We are registered with all the regional authorities, except in Moscow. In the capital, they rejected our demand on the pretext that we are a subversive military organization. It's absurd," said the Salvation Army's Colonel Kenneth Baillie. The Jehovah's Witnesses also faced similar trouble, "In North Ossetia, we obtained all the necessary authorizations, bought a venue which we had started to repair, and when everything was ready we were thrown out without any reason," said senior Jehovah's Witness figure Yaroslav Sivulsky.

Marchenko claims that the Russian Orthodox Church is behind the law. "The Orthodox church wants to have an ideological monopoly in Russia." He went on to say that the Orthodox Church is all but encouraging violence against other religions, "The Orthodox church has never condemned the many acts of violence which our missionaries have suffered from in the name of Orthodoxy."


Sects and Religions in Russia Face Day of Reckoning
Russia Today (AFP) 30Dec00 T1

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