4 Feb. 2004

The Hon. Boris Gromov

Governor of the Moscow Region

Russian Federation

 

 

Honourable Sir,

 

            We are writing to you, on behalf of the Commission on Human and Civil Rights of the Ukrainian World Congress, about a matter, which has been a focus of our attention for over five years. This matter is concerned with the conflicting situation in which two parishes of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kyiv Patriarchate find themselves. The two parishes in question are the Bogoiavlenskaia and Sviato-Troitskaia parishes in the city of Noginsk of the Moscow Region.

 

            These two orthodox parishes, headed by Archbishop Adrian Starina of the UOC-KP, have been in existence since the spring of 1989. Under the leadership of the Archbishop, these two parishes, through their own efforts and at their own expense, built the Bogorodskaia Seminary, an Orthodox High-School (Gymnasium), the Sviato-Tykhvynskii Monastery for nuns, and rebuilt the partially ruined Bogoiavlenskii Sobor, a noted architectural monument.

 

            The two parishes were also widely known for their charitable work. Every day many people in need were given meals in two dining halls, which were maintained on the territory of the Sobor. In addition, ill people were able to receive medical assistance at an infirmary on the Sobor grounds.

 

            From January 1993 till October 1997, the two orthodox parishes in question, headed by Archbishop Adrian, had a lengthy legal conflict with the Moscow Eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate regarding the ownership of the Bogoiavlenskii Sobor and the buildings located on its territory. A turning point of the legal process was the February 21, 1995 Protection Agreement No. 2-95 between The Committee for Culture and Tourism of the administration of the Moscow Region and the Moscow Eparchy of the ROC-MP. After the General Procuracy of the Russian Federation, referring to Agreement 2-95, took the side of the Moscow Patriarchate (cf. the letter of Deputy Procurator General of the RF V. I. Davidov, April 1996), the final court decision in September 1997 went in favour of the Moscow Eparchy. Thereafter, on the night of 29 September 1997, the Bogoiavlenskaia Eparchy of the UOC KP and other juridical persons were forcibly evicted from their premises. The evictions were accompanied by beatings of elderly parishioners, crude language, threatening gestures with automatic weapons towards the hegumen of the monastery, handcuffing, beating and detention of Archbishop Adrian, and attempt by inebriated members of the OMON to incite interethnic enmity. Various belongings, archives and library of the Eparchy, as well as personal effects of the parishioners were illegally confiscated.

 

After eviction from the territory of the Bogoiavlenskii Sobor, the priests of the UOC-KP and their families, together with small children, moved into the building of the Sviato-Troitskii Church in Noginsk, ul. Sovietskoi Konstitutsii 17. The Administration of the Noginsk District immediately shut off electricity, gas, water and heating to this building. The electricity was reconnected in 2002, while the gas was connected only in February 2003. As a result, the Sviato-Troitskaia Parish has had to exist in circumstances, in which the parishioners have had to prepare food on wood-stoves for more than five years and, until last year, to live by candlelight. The numerous petitions of the parishioners and civic organizations regarding the reconnection of gas supplies have been met by refusals and threats of eviction on the part of the local authorities.

           

            The Administration of the Noginsk District has been demanding taxes in excess of one million US dollars from the humanitarian organization “Brotherhood”, and has been pressuring the Sviato-Troitskaia parish with the aim of evicting it from its rightful premises. We append some documents related to this matter.

 

            We regard the attitude of the Administration of the Moscow Region towards the parishioners of the UOC KP in Noginsk to be a violation of the right to freedom of conscience, discrimination on the basis of religious belief and nationality and the abrogation of human rights. At a time when the Moscow Patriarchate has more than 5,000 parishes in Ukraine and over 100 monasteries, the only centre of the Kiev Patriarchate is being demeaned and repressed by the authorities of the Russian Federation. Such a state of affairs is incompatible with the rule of law in a democratic state, and is an affront to the religious and national feelings of Ukrainians throughout the world.

 

            Our Commission had earlier appealed to your predecessor as Governor of the Moscow Region, Mr. A. Tiazhlov, in a letter dated January 1999. This letter has remained unanswered. We are writing to you in the realization that all the above deplorable events occurred during the tenure of the previous Administration of the Moscow Region. We are, therefore, placing our hope in your new Administration, and ask that you consider implementing the following:

  • that the Protection Agreement No. 2-95 of February 21, 1995 between The Committee for Culture and Tourism of the administration of the Moscow Region and the Moscow Eparchy of the ROC-MP be reconsidered,
  • that the unprecedented oppression of the Sviato-Troitskaia Parish of the UOC-KP in Noginsk be stopped and that the Administration of the Noginsk Region stop its efforts to evict parishioners from their rightful premises at ul. Sovietskoi Konstitutsii 17, in Noginsk. The parish should receive assurance that the building on ul.Sovetskoi Konstitucii 17 is in its rightful possession.
  • that the discriminatory and unbearable taxation pressure on the centres of the UKC KP in Noginsk be stopped;
  • that the property of the Bogoiavlenskaia Parish, its archive, library and personal belongings of the parishioners, illegally confiscated by the Moscow Patriarchate shall be returned to their owners.

 

We append two documents to our letter, the "Noginsk Document” and the "Statements of the Parishioners". We are hopeful of your assistance in resolving this difficult and lengthy conflict, which has no analogues in the Russian Federation, and which has been the subject of concern in Ukraine and the UKrainian Diaspora.

 

We wish you success in your work at the helm of the Moscow Region, which, according to official figures, is home to some 185 thousand citizens of Ukrainian nationality.

 

 

Sincerely yours,

 

 

 

 

 

Jurij Darewych                                                                         Vassili Kolomatski

Chair                                                                                       Chair of the Committee on

CHCR UWC                                                                            the Ukrainian Community in

                                                                                              Russia

                                                                                             

 

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