Welcome to , 30 Mar 2014
Fortnightly Report on Christianity in Former Soviet Bloc Countries,
by Dr. Robert D. Hosken
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FIRST, THE NEWS:

RUSSIA TARGETS CHURCHES IN CRIMEAN CRACKDOWN
from
World Magazine

A Ukrainian Orthodox monk (24 Mar) Amid the turmoil between Ukraine and Russia, Crimean Catholics fear Russian oppression and say their church already is suffering great persecution. "At this moment, all Ukrainian Greek Catholic life in Crimea is paralyzed," Father Volodymyr Zhdan told Catholic News Agency (CNA) the day Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty annexing Crimea.

Ahead of the March 16 referendum, in which an overwhelming majority of Crimeans voted to request the Russian annexation, Father Mykhailo Milchakovskyi, a Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest, told Catholic News Service uncertainty about the church's future had caused many congregants to sell their homes and migrate to other parts of Ukraine. "Our Church has no legal status in the Russian Federation, so it's uncertain which laws will be applied if Crimea is annexed," he said. "We fear our churches will be confiscated and our clergy arrested."

On March 15, pro-Russian authorities detained Father Mykola Kvych, a military chaplain. CNA reported that two other priests, Father Bohdan Kosteskiy and Father Ihor Gabryliv, were "kidnapped" by pro-Russian forces as well, but Kvych was able to testify to their safety once he escaped Crimea. Kvych told the Religious Information Service of Ukraine (RISU) he was forced to go with authorities and to let them search his home. Police and Russian counterintelligence interrogated him in Russian and did not allow him to speak Ukrainian, he said. He was ordered to appear in court in two weeks, but fled instead. "The people that helped me leave Crimea explained that if I had not gone, I would have been tried for extremism under Russian law, which can carry a sentence of up to 15 years," Kvych said. [read more...]


UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCHES FACE THEIR OWN CRISIS
from
Voice of America

Ukrainian Orthodox Archbishop Clement(25 Mar) Ukrainian Orthodox Archbishop Clement walks past pro-Russian soldiers and armored vehicles in Crimea on 15 March, as Russia prepares to take over. In Kyiv, it is a relatively quiet Sunday and adherents of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP) are praying at the golden-domed St. Michael's Cathedral. Last month, the grounds of this picturesque monastic complex sheltered a field hospital and morgue for Maidan protesters battling to oust president Viktor Yanukovych. The clergy of the Kyiv Patriarchate blessed the anti-government protesters and rolled up their cassock sleeves to help build barricades themselves.

But now, openly critical of Russia's Crimean takeover, Archbishop Yevstraty talks with visitors in the gardens where bird song has replaced the rage and pain of revolution. While most of the world saw the dramatic ouster of the Moscow-allied Yanukovych as purely a political event, there was a powerful religious undertone that was setting the stage for a major realignment of Orthodox Christianity throughout the country. As the archbishop recalls the street brawls and retort of sniper fire, he says the church defied Yanukovych and barred Special Forces from deploying on church grounds.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), "autonomous" but subordinate to the Russian Orthodox Church, and larger than the UOC-KP, positioned itself above the Maidan protests, praying for reconciliation and urging dialogue. But some senior figures were openly critical, with one bishop saying Maidan protesters had "evil in their hearts." The Moscow Patriarch himself has adopted also a more neutral position on the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, issuing generic pleas for peace. The Moscow Patriarchate's Father Georgy Kovalenko says his church is with the people of Ukraine, and its focus has been on bringing Ukrainian people together and avoiding the conflicts of the past that gave rise to the foundation of the Kyiv Patriarchate.

But this strategy appears to be failing. The politics of revolution and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine have widened a religious rupture that first emerged during the collapse of the Soviet Union, when Primate Filaret broke with the Russian Orthodox Church. He argued that an independent Ukraine deserved a national church truly independent of Moscow. [read more...]


RUSSIA: ST PETERSBURG CHURCH LIQUIDATED, ROSTOV AND CHELYABINSK DRUG AND ALCOHOL REHAB CENTERS TARGETED
by Victoria Arnold,
Forum 18 News Service

(26 Mar) A St Petersburg Pentecostal church has been liquidated this month for alleged illegal educational activity. Protestant-run drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres in Rostov and Chelyabinsk regions of Russia are also been targeted for closure by the authorities, Forum 18 News Service has found.

The lawyer representing Harvest Church, Sergei Chugunov of the Slavic Centre for Law and Justice stated that the St Petersburg Prosecutor "could simply have demanded an end to the activities they deemed illegal, and taken action in the event of disobedience." But, he told Forum 18, "it was decided to resort immediately to the most extreme measure - liquidation. We pointed out this disparity in court, but the court decided otherwise."

The church continues to meet for worship and intends to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. The three Rostov cases and single Chelyabinsk case have so far followed the same pattern - claims of illegal detention of addicts, an inspection by law enforcement agents, and the removal of residents. [read more...]


CHURCH SCHISM IN UKRAINE WILL COME TO NAUGHT, IF DEPRIVED OF POLITICAL SUPPORT, PER ROC-MP
from
Interfax-Religion

(25 Mar) The Moscow Patriarchate official believes the main reason of existing church schism in Ukraine is its political support. "I'm convinced that if the schism is deprived of political support, it will stop existing in a very short time," deputy head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Nikolay Balashov said over the air on the Radonezh Orthodox radio station.

He also commented that the recent decision of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (MP) "is very important" to resume the dialogue with the self-proclaimed Kiev Patriarchate aimed at restoration of church unity in Ukraine. "And it is most important that this dialogue develops on the foundations seen as such by all primates of the local Orthodox Churches, which is return those to Church communion who unfortunately abandoned it," the priest said. [read more...]


AUCCRO OUTLINES THREE WAYS FOR GOVERNMENT AND CITIZENS TO NORMALIZE SITUATION IN COUNTRY
from
Religious Information Service of Ukraine

(24 Mar) The All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (AUCCRO) released on March 24 an "Appeal to Normalize the Sociopolitical Situation in Ukraine in View of Internal and External Challenges," the Institute for Religious Freedom reports. The AUCCRO outlined in three points how to quickly and peacefully deal with the current internal and external challenges in order to normalize the sociopolitical situation in Ukraine:

1. To resolve the situation in Ukraine peacefully and legally.

2. Citizens need not to let their emotions get the better of them, but conscientiously perform their official and civil duties, and strictly adhere to the current Ukrainian legislation, and employees of all kinds must not forget their moral obligation to keep their oaths.

3. To quickly organize, in accordance with the laws of our country, the handling of weapons and their ownership. For those who are ready to take up arms, in accordance with their religious and social beliefs, to defend their homeland, there are currently legitimate ways to fulfill this noble calling. [read more...]


UZBEKISTAN: ANTI-TERRORISM POLICE SEIZE RELIGIOUS LITERATURE, TEAR DOWN RELIGIOUS POSTERS
by Mushfig Bayram,
Forum 18 News Service

(18 Mar) Anti-Terrorism Police raided two separate private homes in early March, Forum 18 News Service has learned. In the central city of Samarkand on 9 March, they raided a meeting for worship in a private home, seizing religious literature, ripping down posters with Scripture verses from the walls and preparing administrative cases against four individuals. The following day in the capital Tashkent, Anti-Terrorism Police raided a private home, also seizing religious literature.

Following a February raid on a private home, a court in Kokand in the eastern Fergana Region fined a local Protestant for having Christian materials in a computer seized during the raid. During the raids, National Security Service (NSS) secret police officers may have accompanied Anti-Terrorism Police, ordinary police and other state officials, as not all the raiders would identify themselves. A new Decree which came into force on 27 January formalizes the pre-existing state censorship over religious literature and other materials and allows officials to conduct "joint actions to detect and prevent illegal distribution of materials," [read more...]


BAPTISTS OF RUSSIA WERE INSTRUCTED TO ANNEX ALL EVANGELICAL BAPTIST COMMUNITIES IN CRIMEA
from
Religious Information Service of Ukraine

(27 Mar) Leadership of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists were instructed to annex all Evangelical Baptist communities in Crimea. Russian church leaders have not given a definitive agreement and plan to consult with leaders of Ukrainian Union.

Elena Panych, protestant theologian and former vice-rector of Donetsk Christian University posted this information on her Facebook page. She said that the trend is clear. Obviously, other religious denominations in Crimea also will be "taken care" of in this way. [read more...]


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:

REPORT: RUSSIAN ORTHODOX MOVE TO SEIZE OTHER CHURCHES IN CRIMEA
from
CatholicCulture.org

MOSCOW SAYS ATTACKS ON PRIESTS IN UKRAINE CONFIRM ATMOSPHERE OF RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE
from
Interfax-Religion

CONDOLENCES FOR THE DEAD ON BOTH SIDES IN UKRAINE
from
Russian Evangelical Alliance

KAZAKHSTAN: RELIGIOUS FREEDOM SURVEY, MARCH 2014
from
Forum 18 News Service

ATMOSPHERE OF ETHNIC AND CONFESSIONAL INTOLERANCE REIGNS IN UKRAINE: RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY
from
Religia v Ukraine

WAS SPRUCE ISLAND, ALASKA, GRANTED TO THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH "FOR ETERNITY"?
from
UPI

See HOSKEN-NEWS Daily for more of the latest news!


NOW, OUR VIEWS:

We are already witnessing a crackdown on churches in Crimea that are not aligned with Russia: in "RUSSIA TARGETS CHURCHES IN CRIMEAN CRACKDOWN" we read that Greek Catholic (Uniate) priests are being arrested or forced to flee Crimea. The article "UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCHES FACE THEIR OWN CRISIS" tells of efforts by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) to strike a neutral pose in the struggle for gaining public support over the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP), but this strategy seems not to be working: the people are responding with - "If you're not for us, you're against us!" And we see in "BAPTISTS OF RUSSIA WERE INSTRUCTED TO ANNEX ALL EVANGELICAL BAPTIST COMMUNITIES IN CRIMEA" that apparently the Russian government has instructed the Russian Baptist Union to take control over all the Baptist churches in Crimea.

Note: In correction of what was reported in a previous issue, Oleksander Turchinov, acting interim president of Ukraine until a new presidential election takes place on May 25, is a Protestant lay preacher, not a pastor. He preaches only occasionally at a Baptist church in Kyiv because of his busy schedule as a politician.


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Let's keep the comments coming! When you've finished reading, leave your COMMENTS in our Hosken-News Blog below. Thanks!


Prayer and Praise:

Sun. - Pray for an
independent national Church for Ukraine to catch the vision of all the people of Ukraine.
Mon. - Intercede for the five churches in St. Petersburg, Rostov and Chelyabinsk that were recently de-registered.
Tue. - Ask God for a way for the Church in Ukraine to be united and canonical, recognized by other Orthodox churches.
Wed. - Pray for peace in Ukraine, that the economy will be normalized, society stabilized and that war be avoided.
Thu. - Intercede for Christians in Uzbekistan whose Christian literature was siezed and homes were vandalized.
Fri. - Ask the Lord that Baptist churches in Crimea will not be forced to switch their allegiance to Russia.
Sat. - Pray that we all will cease "Doing What's Right In One's Own Eyes", and resolve to following God's way.

Select to see full-size!   Please remember to pray for Christians in the former Soviet bloc countries, and for...

  Your fellow-servants,

  Bob & Cheryl

p.s. God wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts.


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