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Russian Orthodox to EU: Don't Ignore Religious Deaths

Russian Orthodox Church

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Secretary of the Representation of the Moscow Patriarchate to the European Institutions participates in the session of the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee in the European Parliament.

On 25-26 January 2006, Rev. Antony Ilin, Secretary of the Representation of the Moscow Patriarchate to the European Institutions, participated as an observer in the session of the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee in the European Parliament. Among the discussed questions were: Russia's accession to the WTO and the 'problem 2007' connected with the expiry of the Agreement on partnership and cooperation. The deputies underscored the necessity of working out such an international agreement between Russia and the EU that would include improved normative basis for parliamentary interaction. Working groups, including the working group on problems of the Kaliningrad Region, delivered their reports.

In his talk with deputies-members of the Committee, Rev. Antony Ilin said that the lack of non-governmental mechanisms of cooperation between Russia and the EU in the existing documents could be partly compensated by the dialogue in the civil society in Euro-regions. The dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church can contribute in it significantly.

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Representative of the Moscow Patriarchate in Strasbourg calls PACE to remember crimes against the freedom of conscience and religion

On 23 January 2006, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly opens its Winter Session, which will work till the end of the week. Among items included in the agenda is an inquiry into alleged secret detentions in Council of Europe member states, the rise of Nazism and the notion of 'nation'. Special guests have been invited to address the deputies. Among them European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Mr. Traian Basescu, President of Romania as chair-country, President of the Mexican Senate Enrique Jackson Ramirez.

Among the items, which are mostly likely to attract the deputies' attention, is the need for an international condemnation of crimes committed by totalitarian communist regimes. The Council of Europe Political Affairs Committee has drafted appropriate Resolutions and Recommendations to the Committee of Ministers. Acting as rapporteur on this problem will be Mr. Goran Lindblad, Sweden, member of the Group of the European People's Party.

The Draft Resolution points out that totalitarian communist regimes were characterized by mass violations of human rights, among them assassinations and executions, deaths in concentration camps, hunger, deportations, the use of slave labour and other forms of mass physical terror. The document states that these crimes were justified by the theory of class struggle and the principle of dictatorship of the proletariat.

However, speaking about the human rights violations, the drafter have failed to make a single reference to the prosecution of believers and attempts made by communist regimes to eradicate religion using the ideology of state atheism.

This strange omission has been emphasized by the official Representative of the Russian Orthodox Church in Strasbourg, Hegumen Philaret Bulekov, in his letter to PACE President René van der Linden.

The letter states in particular, 'It is no secret indeed that believers, especially clergy including monastics, were far from the least oppressed "categories" of citizens. In a quantitative sense, Orthodox Christians were affected most of all as followers of a majority Church, but in its persecution against believers as such, the repressive state machine did not spare others either. Persecution including imprisonment, exile, execution, disability was suffered almost all the religions and Christian confessions, both traditional for Eastern Europe and Asia, such as Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism, and minority faith'.

The Russian Orthodox Church Representative believes that 'the international condemnation of the totalitarian crimes will never be complete from the point of view of glaring mass violations of human rights if it ignores the violation of the fundamental human right to the freedom of conscience and religion. In this case, the collective European memory will exclude not only millions of people who suffered and died only because they confessed a religion. Falling into oblivion will be also a great many people in the West, representatives of Churches and religious communities, human rights advocates, politicians, cultural figures who raised their voices in defence of those who were persecuted in communist countries'.

'So serious an omission in the text of the document points to the need to involve representatives of Churches and religious organizations in the development of common European positions', the Moscow Patriarchate Representative in Strasbourg believes.

Read the entire article on the Representation of the Russian Orthodox Church to the European Institutions website (new window will open).

Posted: 09-Feb-06



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