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Expert Says Russian-wide Action “No to Inquisitors!” is Gradually Becoming a Movement against the Breakdown of the Foundations of Secular Government of Russia

24 April 2009

The Russian-wide perpetual action “No to Inquisitors!” is gradually becoming a movement against the breakdown of the foundations of secular government in Russia, says the director of the Institute of Religion and Justice, Roman Lunkin.  As one of the organizers and initiators of the action, Roman Lunkin made the previous assertion while answering questions on a web conference of the Christian Megaportal www.invictory.org.
 
According to Roman Lunkin, the action was started as a protest against sectologists in the Council under the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation (the protest is not against the Council itself), and gradually found expression against sectologists – only one of the indicators of the corrosion of the secular government of the country.  For this reason, there is participation from not only Protestants, representatives of different religions, and new religious movements persecuted by sectologists, but also from atheists and agnostics.  “I think this has happened because society has accumulated a certain outrage from clericalization, as well as unrest in connection with dissatisfaction from the aggressive attempts of the Moscow patriarchy to receive more means, property and educational hours, so that it was necessary to find an outlet.”
 
Concerning the process of the gathering over 2000 signatures, Lunkin noted, “It is very important for us that every individual who has sent us their voice or opinion speak about it consciously and openly.  For this reason, we are striving to gather signatures and announce an Internet poll like the project “The Name of Russia.”  Every person who sends us a letter takes a conscious, civil step and is not afraid to reveal himself/herself, the same as many scholars, presbyters, and bishops who are not afraid.  For those who are afraid of something, let them think about what it means for them and their children to live with sectologists in such an instance.  Moreover, during Soviet times, people declared their positions under a threat that meant greater losses than those of the current myths of the OSB.  Rumors had appeared on the Internet that supposedly, personal information about those who had given their signatures could be used by government bodies.  However, it almost immediately became known that these rumors were spread by sectologists.”
 
Lunkin is convinced that in order to declare one’s point of view, to build a civilized democratic Russian society, and to preserve secular government, it is necessary to be able to have an open, conscious voice: “The point of the action is not to gather signatures from all inhabitants of the country, but to gain the support of actual citizens – people who truly know what they stand for.  This is a large-scale, but insufficiently organized force, and we are taking the first steps toward its organization.”
 
Several leaders of the churches are currently gathering signatures of members of their laities in order to show they are in support of our action.  People can send a list of surnames, given names, and patronymics, but it is most important that it be clear where the person is from and to what city and church he/she belongs.  Some give their profession, place of employment and, of course, educational titles.  Among those who have signed open proclamations are many scholars, both theologians and historians and physicists, mathematicians, musicians, and writers.
 
In relation to the threats made by radical activists against the “sects,” Lunkin noted the following: “Sectologists have already begun to exert influence on elected officials and on the mass media as they already have status as members of the council, which means they are friends of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation and of Minister Aleksandr Konovalov.  It is already more difficult to refuse a member of the council, which means that it will be harder to fight against him, and the prosecutor’s office will not bring any legal action against him.  They have obtained a pardon for themselves.  They are not even required to have any expertise or expert opinions in order to influence the government for the purpose of limiting the activity of people who are not Russian Orthodox.  It is enough to simply be a member of the Council under the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation.”
 
Concerning the possibility of opposing anti-sectarian actions, the director of the Institute of Religion and Justice asserted, “So long as churches refuse to defend themselves and do not wish to defend their honor and values, they will be insulted, called sectarians, and now in the 2000’s, they will be accused of extremism for the sake of preserving the “spiritual safety” of Russia.  Undoubtedly, Europe is no indication for us; but in France, where their intergovernmental committee is somewhat similar to our Council under the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation, courts have begun to fine officials, including ministers, for disparaging remarks toward “nontraditional” religious persons.  No one thought that this was possible, but experience has shown that nothing is impossible.”

At the sessions of the City Council Commission for Juvenile Affairs in March, the religious followers said, “They called the church a sect and discussed matters with a sufficiently negative tone.”  According to Pastor Tikhomirov, testimonials were read during the sessions from both the director of the National Russian High School of Sergey Radonezhsky and from class instructors.  The school director intentionally characterized the children as unsuccessful and weak in their studies, while the teachers offered completely opposite opinions.  As Tikhomirov noted, the situation was confusing to the chairman of the Commission.  When Pastor Tikhomirov asked if religious considerations were a valid reason for the children to not attend school, the members of the Commission answered that it was not.  The Pastor especially noted, “One of the members of the Commission called our church a sect; and when I corrected her, she dismissively said, ‘…It is still a sect.’”
 
According to Inna Zagrebina, during the examinations, the representative of the Commission for Juvenile Affairs, Y. N. Bastaeva, speaking for the accusers, claimed that the Adventist parents were not acting fairly because it is offensive to the other children that they must study and go to school on Saturdays.  The representative of the prosecution was outraged by the fact that the attorney representing the Adventists cited not only the Constitution of the Russian Federation, but also international documents, especially the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and others, while she herself was unable to name any part of the law that had been broken.
 
In the opinion of Inna Zagrebina, in the legal world, there is always a compromise between secular legal standards and religious institutions.  Without intending to, the city prosecutor and the Commission for Juvenile Affairs by their own amateurish actions have only helped the situation along by portraying happy families as lawbreakers.  At the same time, hundreds of children in Elista remain without appropriate attention or care both from parents and government.

 

 
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