Keston News Service Summary: 14-18 and 21-25 January 2002


Reply-To: minelres-l@riga.lv
Sender: minelres-l@riga.lv
From: MINELRES moderator <minelres@mailbox.riga.lv>
Date: Wed, 30 Jan 2002 21:37:21 +0200 (EET)
Message-Id: <3C58D766.F644B4F1@mailbox.riga.lv>
Subject: Keston News Service Summary: 14-18 and 21-25 January 2002

From: MINELRES moderator <minelres@mailbox.riga.lv>

Original sender: Keston Institute <keston.institute@keston.org>

Keston News Service Summary: 14-18 and 21-25 January 2002



KESTON INSTITUTE, OXFORD, UK
______________________________________
 
KESTON NEWS SERVICE – SUMMARY                   14-18 January 2002

Summaries of recent reporting on violations of religious liberty and
on 
religion in communist and post-communist lands.
______________________________________

BROADCAST ON BBC RADIO 4 THIS SUNDAY, 20 JAN. Rev'd Canon Dr Michael
Bourdeaux, Keston's founder, is to broadcast on BBC Radio 4 a
programme recorded on Solovki, a former Gulag prison camp now
reclaimed as a Russian Orthodox monastery. The programme will be
broadcast at 8.07 am British time and in it, Canon Dr. Bourdeaux
reflects on the past and present of martyrdom, the Russian Orthodox
Church and the canonisation of some of the Solovki martyrs.

AZERBAIJAN: BAPTIST PASTOR VOWS TO FIGHT COURT LIQUIDATION (18 Jan).
Sary Mirzoyev, pastor of the Love Baptist 
Church in the Azerbaijani capital Baku, told Keston News Service on 18
January that he will fight attempts next week to liquidate his church
as a legal entity. It is alleged that Pastor Mirzoyev preached against
Islam and that therefore the church has violated the country's
religion law and should be liquidated. Mirzoyev believes the
allegations are an excuse not to re-register the church. "They don't
want us to function.” he told Keston. “They don't like the fact that
the church is made up of Azerbaijanis and  holds services in Azeri."
The hearing begins on 23 January at the court of Baku's Narimanov
district.

BELARUS: RADIO CHIEF REFUSES TO EXPLAIN CATHOLIC MASS BROADCAST HALT.
The head of Belarus' first national radio channel refused to explain
to Keston News Service on 14 January why the regular Sunday morning
live transmission of the Catholic Mass from a church in the capital
Minsk was abruptly halted ahead of the 6 January transmission. An
independent Minsk paper linked the cancellation of the broadcast to
the government's efforts to protect Russian Orthodoxy and curtail the
growth of "non-traditional" religions. Father Vladislav Zavalnyuk, who
regularly led the service, told Keston he was "very optimistic" that
the "misunderstanding" would be resolved and that the broadcasting of
the Mass would resume on a regular basis. (see full article below)

BELARUS: EDITOR DEFENDS ANTI-CATHOLIC ARTICLE. The editor of Vitebsky
Rabochy (Vitebsk Worker), a newspaper owned by the local
administration in the north-eastern town of Vitebsk which carried an
unsigned article attacking the Catholic Church and calling for a halt
to its activities, has strongly defended his paper's decision to
publish it. "It wasn't religious intolerance. The article contained
only facts," Vladimir Romanovsky told Keston News Service on 16
January. A journalist at the Vitebsky Kurier, a rival, non-state
paper, told Keston the same day that his paper had published a
rebuttal of the Vitebsky Rabochy article on
4 January. "We believe their article was anti-Catholic and incited
religious hatred. We believe all denominations must be equal." 

KAZAKHSTAN: DID SECURITY POLICE KILL DEVOUT MUSLIM? (14 Jan) The
lawyer representing a Muslim man who died of serious injuries in the
town of Turkestan on 3 November has told Keston News Service that she
believes he died of beatings sustained at the hands of officers of
Kazakhstan's security police, the National Security
Committee (NSC). Kanat Beimbetov was arrested by NSC officers on 26
October, who demanded that he confess to links with Uzbek Islamic
terrorist organisations, the lawyer said, adding that "Beimbetov's
only 'crime'
was that he was a committed believer and attended the mosque
regularly." The chief public prosecutor of the region told Keston that
an investigation into the death was underway, but a representative of
the Kazakhstan 
International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law said that
she was pessimistic about the outcome. "We have identified dozens of
cases where prisoners have been tortured by the law enforcement
agencies,” she said. “Yet these crimes always remain unpunished."

KAZAKHSTAN (SPECIAL REPORT): IS CHIMKENT A HOTBED OF ISLAMIC
RADICALISM? (17 Jan) The Chimkent region of southern Kazakhstan, which
borders Uzbekistan, is privately regarded by the Kazakh authorities as
the main breeding-ground for religious extremism in the republic. The
region is home to the majority of Kazakhstan’s
ethnic Uzbek population, who are generally considered more devout than
the Kazakhs.  In off-the-record conversations with Keston News
Service, several officials cited the presence of "Islamic extremists"
in the
south of the country as justification for harsh control over the
activity of religious organisations. On a visit to the region,
however, Keston found little evidence to support this view.

RUSSIA: MORMON REGISTRATION IN TATARSTAN AT A STALEMATE (17 Jan).
Nearly three years after it lost its registration, the congregation of
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) in
Tatarstan's capital Kazan appears no nearer to gaining registration.
Two missionaries from the United States discovered in Kazan by
officers of Tatarstan's internal affairs ministry had their visas
curtailed and had to leave the country, Keston News Service learned on
11 January. The two were denied registration in Tatarstan – one of the
autonomous republics within the Russian Federation - because their
congregation did not have registration. The Mormons' Russian lawyer
told Keston that the decision violates the constitutional principle of
freedom of movement by foreign citizens.

TURKMENISTAN: "WE JUST WANT REGISTRATION" SAYS EVICTED ADVENTIST (18
Jan). A young Adventist evicted by court 
order from her flat in the town of Turmenabad (formerly Charjou) last
December for hosting religious meetings (see KNS 27 December 2001) has
told Keston News Service that all her denomination is asking for is
freedom of conscience - to be allowed to register with the Turkmen
authorities and to be able to practise their faith in accordance with
the law. Speaking on 16 January from her temporary refuge in the
Siberian city of Omsk, Marina Ismakayeva pointed out that it is not
only the Adventist Church that has suffered because of burdensome
registration requirements that make it impossible for minority faiths
to gain legal status. "We're not the only ones. The Protestants, the
Jehovah's Witnesses and others - all have problems, except for the
Muslims and the Russian Orthodox."

TURKMENISTAN/UZBEKISTAN: PLEA FOR VISA-FREE CROSS-BORDER MUSLIM
GRAVEYARD VISITS (18 Jan). An Uzbek human rights organisation has
appealed to Turkmenistan's president to allow Muslims in the region
along Uzbekistan's western border with Turkmenistan to visit graves of
relatives in Turkmenistan on two Muslim festivals a year without
paying what it believes is an unaffordable visa fee - more than most
Uzbeks earn in a month. In December a riot was caused when hundreds of
Uzbeks forced their way through the border in an attempt to reach a
cemetery just inside Turkmenistan on the festival of Ramadan Haita
[Eid-al-fitr]. Talib Yakubov, head of the unregistered Society for
Human Rights of Uzbekistan, told Keston News Service on 16 January
that he was keen to prevent another riot. "People simply do not have
six dollars to pay the Turkmen border guards for a visa, and that
means that at Kurban-Bairam [Eid-al-Adha, marked this year on 22
February] they will again force their way across the border," he said.

Wednesday 16 January
BELARUS: RADIO CHIEF REFUSES TO EXPLAIN CATHOLIC 
MASS BROADCAST HALT

by Felix Corley, Keston News Service

............
----------------
For the full text, see http://www.keston.org/knsframe.htm
------------------
............

--------------------------------

KESTON INSTITUTE, OXFORD, UK
______________________________________

KESTON NEWS SERVICE – SUMMARY        21-25 January 2002

Summaries of recent reporting on violations of religious liberty and
on religion in communist and post-communist lands.
______________________________________

AZERBAIJAN: TWO-WEEK PRISON FOR PENTECOSTAL LEADERS (21 Jan). Amid
growing pressure on Protestant congregations, two leaders of an
unregistered Pentecostal church have been arrested and given
fifteen-day prison terms, Protestant sources in the Azerbaijani
capital Baku have told Keston News Service. The two - Yusuf Farkhadov
and Kasym Kasymov - were detained in Sumgait, a town close to Baku,
when police and National Security Ministry officers raided a prayer
meeting last Friday (18 January) held in a private flat. "All they
were doing was praying," one church member told Keston. The
Azerbaijani authorities seem intent on closing down many Protestant
churches, with the majority likely to lose their registration.

AZERBAIJAN: BAPTIST LIQUIDATION HEARING POSTPONED (24 Jan). The
hearing in the case to liquidate the Love Baptist Church in the
Azerbaijani capital Baku was postponed yesterday (23 January), the
church's pastor Sary Mirzoyev told Keston News Service from Baku. The
case was brought by the chairman of the State Committee for Relations
with Religious Organisations, who alleges that the church has violated
Azerbaijan’s law on religion and should be closed down. The Narimanov
district court agreed to the defendant's request to postpone the
hearing because of ill health. No date has yet been set for a new
hearing, but it is likely to be in about ten days' time.

KAZAKHSTAN: NEW RESTRICTIVE RELIGION LAW GOES TO UPPER HOUSE (23 Jan).
Kazakhstan’s proposed new religion law is likely to be approved by the
upper house of the Kazakh parliament on 31 January, despite objections
from religious groups, human rights activists and the Organisation for
Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Keston News Service has
learned. It was approved by the lower house on 17 January, and also
requires the signature of the president to become law. If adopted
unamended it will allow unregistered religious groups to be banned,
require all missionaries to be registered and deny legal registration
to all Muslim organisations outside the framework of the Spiritual
Administration of Muslims of Kazakhstan. (see full article below)

KAZAKHSTAN: IS MORE RESTRICTIVE RELIGION LAW JUSTIFIED? (23 Jan) One
of the justifications presented by Kazakh officials for the new, more
restrictive religion law now being adopted is what officials claim is
an increased danger to state security from religious organisations.
However, Keston News Service found no evidence of any increased threat
in the Chimkent region of southern Kazakhstan, which the government
regards as a hotbed of religious fundamentalism. An official of the
Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) mission in
Kazakhstan, which sent the government a detailed critical commentary
on the new draft law, told Keston that the OSCE does not believe the
situation in Kazakhstan requires such controls to be imposed on
religious groups.

KYRGYZSTAN: MUSLIM RIGHTS ACTIVIST DETAINED (22 Jan). Bahodyr
Akhmedov, the son of a prominent local imam, was detained on 11
January by officers of the National Security Service (NSS) in
Jalal-Abad city, in southern Kyrgyzstan, Keston News Service learned
on 17 January from the Bishkek-based Bureau on Human Rights and Rule
of Law. Akhmedov, a member of the Committee for the Protection of
Muslims' Rights - an officially registered non-governmental
organisation - is charged with illegal possession of weapons. A human
rights activist from Jalal-Abad told Keston on 18 January that bullets
may have been planted in Akhmedov's home and said that he personally
had “strong doubts as to Akhmedov's guilt”.

RUSSIA: LOCAL AUTHORITIES RESTRICT GOSPEL DRAMATISATION (21 Jan). The
city administration in Novomoskovsk, Tula region, has prohibited the
screening of the Jesus film – a dramatisation of Luke's Gospel - in
municipal buildings, a local Presbyterian pastor, Roman Uglev,
informed Keston News Service on 15 January. The decision revoked the
permission earlier obtained by a coalition of five of Novomoskovsk's
Protestant churches to show the film early this month, and came,
according to Uglev, after pressure from a local Orthodox priest. The
portrayal of Christ in the film goes against Orthodox teaching,
another priest told Keston. Protestants in the city of Kirov have also
reported to Keston that they have had screenings of the Jesus film
restricted.

RUSSIA: SALVATION ARMY VICTIMS OF UNETHICAL PRACTICE? (21 Jan) The
Salvation Army's serious predicament in Moscow appears to be due at
least in part to its refusal to use the services of a particular law
firm, Keston News Service has discovered. The state official
responsible for registration of religious organisations in the Russian
capital has recommended the use of the same law firm - of which he
used to be president - in a further two known cases. When one of the
religious organisations in question subsequently employed the services
of the law firm, Keston has learned, its protracted legal difficulties
were swiftly resolved.

TURKMENISTAN: CHIEF MUFTI REFUSES TO DISCUSS PRESIDENTIAL MADRASSAH
CLOSURES (21 Jan). Turkmenistan's chief mufti has resolutely declined
to discuss President Saparmurat Niyazov's public admission that he
ordered the mass closure of madrassahs (Islamic schools) and his
insistence that there will be only one madrassah with a maximum of 20
students for the entire country. Keston News Service managed to reach
the mufti by telephone on 17 January, but as soon as he found out why
Keston was calling he immediately said that he had "absolutely no
time". Niyazov's acknowledgement that the state intervenes in
believers' affairs comes despite the country's constitution, which
declares that religion is separate from the state.

TURKMENISTAN: FURTHER BAPTIST FINES (23 Jan). Six members of a Baptist
congregation in the town of Khazar have been fined for holding
"illegal services", Keston News Service has learned. They were
summoned to the local administration on 9 January, and were informed
that the instruction to fine them came from the political police, the
KNB (former KGB). They were also told they should register their
community, something they refuse to do for fear of state control. The
six have refused to pay the fines.

Wednesday 23 January
KAZAKHSTAN: NEW RESTRICTIVE RELIGION LAW GOES TO UPPER HOUSE

by Igor Rotar, Keston News Service

............
----------------
For the full text, see http://www.keston.org/knsframe.htm
------------------
............


Copyright (c) 2002 Keston Institute. All rights reserved.
 
Subscribe to the free weekly KNS Summary, or to the almost daily 
Keston News Service, through our website http://www.keston.org/ where 
donations may also be made. KNS articles are posted on the website, as 
well as details of our other publications: the bimonthly magazine 
‘Frontier’ and the quarterly academic journal ‘Religion, State &
Society’.
______________________________________
 
REPRINTING/QUOTING
KNS may be reprinted or quoted providing acknowledgment is given, for 
example 'Source: Keston Institute <http://www.keston.org>'. We would 
appreciate a copy of any publication which uses our information.

SUBSCRIBING 
Cost per annum for full almost daily KNS: 30 pounds sterling, or 50 US 
dollars, or 45 euros.
The weekly KNS Summary is free of charge, but donations are welcome. 
Your donations are our only source of income and directly promote 
religious freedom by enabling us to provide information.

Via website: <http://www.keston.org>;
via email:  <keston.institute@keston.org>;
via post: Keston Institute, 38 St Aldates, Oxford, OX1 1BN, UK.
North American supporters may also use our US address:
Keston USA, P.O. Box 426, Waldorf, Maryland 20604.
 
Credit cards accepted (Visa, Mastercard, Eurocard, Gift Aid, CAF) 
payable to Keston Institute, 38 St Aldates, Oxford OX1 1BN, UK.
Please  
include card number, expiry date, and mailing address.
 
DEUTSCHES SPENDENKONTO
Empfänger:              Kirchenkreis Koblenz
Stichwort:              "Keston Institute"
Bank:                   Sparkasse Koblenz
Kontonummer:    14043
BLZ:                    570 501 20
 
AUTOMATIC BANK TRANSFER (from anywhere in the world):
Keston Institute, Account No. 0106411835
National Westminster Bank Plc (Branch code 50-31-88)
11 High Street, Chislehurst, KENT BR7 5AL, UK.
 
Queries should be addressed to Lorna Howard, 
keston.institute@keston.org
Tel: + 44 (0)1865/79 29 29; Fax: + 44 (0)1865/24 00 42;
Keston Institute, 38 St Aldates, Oxford OX1 1BN, UK. 
________________________

-- 
==============================================================
MINELRES - a forum for discussion on minorities in Central&Eastern
Europe

Submissions: minelres-l@riga.lv  
Subscription/inquiries: minelres@mailbox.riga.lv 
List archive: http://www.riga.lv/minelres/archive.htm
==============================================================