Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Persecuted bishop nears exoneration

Expand Messages
  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://www.stetson.edu/~psteeves/relnews/0405e.html#33 Persecuted bishop nears exoneration TRIAL OF ANCIENT ORTHODOX BISHOP OF KURSK POSTPONED Portal-credo.ru,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 2, 2004
    • 0 Attachment
      http://www.stetson.edu/~psteeves/relnews/0405e.html#33

      Persecuted bishop nears exoneration
      TRIAL OF ANCIENT ORTHODOX BISHOP OF KURSK POSTPONED
      Portal-credo.ru, 26 May 2004

      The Volodar district court of the city of Briansk has again, for the third
      time, postponed a session in the case of the Ancient Orthodox bishop of
      Kursk, Apollinary Dubinin, to 8 July, a "Portal-credo.ru" correspondent
      reports.

      The reason for the postponement of the judicial session is
      the nonappearance of witnesses for the prosecution, experts from Moscow,
      upon whose conclusion the case regarding contraband was drawn up. As noted
      by a representative of the "For human rights" public movement, Vladimir
      Stepanov, who is in charge of legal support for the cleric, those assembled
      in the courtroom were especially interests in the way the accusation
      against Bishop of Kursk Apollinary was constructed on the basis of his
      possession of liturgical articles that he needed for performing church rites.

      We recall that on 19 April 2000 customs agents discovered in the possession
      of train passenger A.G. Dubinin, traveling from Moscow to Kremenchug, a
      eucharistic spoon, an altar cross, a 1913 service book, and 1912 New
      Testament, and a "Trebnik" and "Rite of Confession" from 1910, and one book
      of his personal property. It was these liturgical articles that were sent
      for expert analysis in the Briansk Museum of Territorial Studies, where
      fabricated a conclusion for presentation of an indictment. Although other
      expert organizations had shown that the material evidence seized from the
      cleric did not have historical or artistic value, and thus are not cultural
      valuables and do not fall under the purview of the law on import and export
      of such things from Russia, at the insistence of Prosecutor Kanishchev at
      the Ministry of Culture of RF a conclusion was prepared that permitted the
      Ancient Orthodox bishop to be sentenced to three years in prison for
      contraband.

      Now, when even the second sentence has been quashed, which shortened the
      term to six months, the acquittal of the cleric is expected. The third
      failure of specialists to appear permits the court to review the case in
      their absence, so that the 8 July trial should be completed without new
      exhausting delays. A decision of acquittal with respect to the Ancient
      Orthodox Bishop Apollinary will mean that the FSB department for Briansk
      province will have to compensate for both court costs and the cleric's
      travel expenses and honoraria for the attorneys. (tr. by PDS, posted 27 May
      2004)

      APPEAL OF THE "FOR HUMAN RIGHTS" PUBLIC MOVEMENT REGARDING THE CASE OF
      ANCIENT ORTHODOX BISHOP APOLLINARY

      24 May 2004

      To Volodar district court of the city of Briansk

      In the interests of rights and freedoms, of the fulfilment of direct
      responsibilities of Bishop of Kursk Apollinary, and of the judicial
      authority of RF in exercising justice, the "For human rights" public
      movement of the Russian federation, after an appeal by Bishop of Kursk
      Apollinary for help in defending his rights and freedoms (freedom of
      conscience, freedom of religious confession, the right to disseminate
      religious and other convictions, which under no circumstance are subject to
      limitation in accordance with article 28, part 3 and article 56 of the
      Russian constitution) has appealed many times to the prosecutor of Briansk
      province (A.V. Kornienko), the presidential envoy for the Central federal
      district, G.S. Poltavchenko, his deputy, V.F. Volkov, and to the chairman
      of the Briansk district court, A.E. Pytalev, the chairman of the Supreme
      Court of the Russian Federation, V.M. Lebedev, ( and besides this deputies
      of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly appealed to N.P. Patrushev,
      director of the Federal Service of Security of RF) with regard to the
      fabricated criminal case of FSB of this region for bringing to justice the
      Ancient Orthodox Bishop of Kursk Apollinary on the basis of article 188,
      part 2 of the Criminal Code of RF (contraband).

      The essence of his appeal consisted in the following: Bishop of Kursk
      Apollinary was invited by a group of Old Believers to conduct the all-night
      Easter vigil in the city of Kremenchug. He took with him liturgical
      articles for performing the sacraments (baptism, communion, consecration of
      water, etc.) appropriate to the rank of bishop and for performing the
      solemn divine service at the time of the celebration of Pascha, for which
      he had been invited by fellow believers.

      On 19 April 2000 he bought a ticket for the Moscow-Kremenchug train from
      the territory of Russia to the territory of Ukraine. He took with him
      liturgical articles for performing church rituals: a eucharistic spoon for
      communion, an altar cross, and liturgical books, a 1913 "Sluzhebnik," and
      1912 "New Testament," and 1910 "Trebnik", and a 1910 "Ritual of Confession"
      One book was his personal property. Before customs at the Briansk station
      Bishop of Kursk Apollinary declared that he had with him 1300 Russian
      rubles but the liturgical articles that he had in his bag for
      performing divine services he did not include in the customs declaration
      since he had regularly crossed the border in this way.

      The customs officials in the city of Briansk discovered the ecclesiastical
      items. And in July 2000 a representative of FSB visited him with a report
      about a summons of Bishop Apollinary for a conversation at FSB in the city
      of Briansk.

      17 July 2000 he was summoned to FSB by a notification from investigator
      N.N. Ignatov.

      6 September 2000, N.N. Ignatov arrived at his place of work in Mendeleev
      Chemical Technological University and informed him that on 10 May 2000 a
      criminal case had been opened against A.G. Dubinin on the basis of article
      188, part 2. N.N. Ignatov took from A.G. Dubinin a written undertaking not
      to depart.

      24 September 2000, information was received about the termination of this
      criminal case on the basis of article 5, part 2 of the Code of Criminal
      Procedure of RSFSR, signed 8 September 2000 by investigator N.N. Ignatov of
      the directorate of FSB for Briansk province. The prosecutor of Briansk
      province, A.V. Kornienko, noted the order to terminate the criminal case
      and it was again returned to FSB of the city of Briansk.

      11 October 2000, Bishop of Kursk Apollinary received a notice from the
      Volodar district court of the city of Briansk with the conclusion to
      indict, signed by the same FSB investigator N.N. Ignatov (and also from 8
      September 2000) and confirmed by the prosecutor of Briansk province A.V.
      Kornienko, 14 September 2000.

      The FSB for Briansk province had transferred the baseless criminal case to
      the Volodar district court of the city of Briansk, which had turned it down
      many times for understandable reasons: absence of commission of a crime and
      of intentional conduct for commission of a crime in accordance with article
      188 part 2 of the Criminal Code of RF. Three judges were replaced: I.V.
      Lebedev, I.I. Gunko, T.B. Gusakov.

      The judicial investigation that was conducted was based on the conclusions
      of an expert analysis by art scholars carried out in the Briansk museum of
      territorial studies. However there exists a conclusion of the Ministry of
      Culture of the Russian federation that this museum does not have the right
      to conduct such expert analyses. This fact is evidence of exceeding the
      boundaries of the juridical obligations of responsible persons of FSB and
      the prosecutor's office for Briansk province, and it exists in the
      materials of the case but is not a juridical circumstance.

      In addition to the aforesaid, on 20 October 2000 an expert analysis by the
      Russian State Library was received that exists in the criminal case to the
      effect that the confiscated objects of a eucharistic spoon, altar cross,
      and liturgical books, "Sluzhebnik" (1913), "New Testament" (1912),
      "Trebnik" (1910), and "Rite of Confession" (1910) do not have historical or
      artistic value and thus they are not cultural valuables and do not come
      under the purview of the law regarding import and export, and a different
      procedure is established for taking them through customs.

      However on 20 February 2001 the Volodar district court of the city of
      Briansk made a decision to send the material evidence to an independent
      expert analysis. The northwestern regional center for judicial expert
      analysis in St. Petersburg on 15 May 2001 came to the conclusion that the
      material evidence that was presented has no artistic, historic, or
      antiquarian value and thus they are not cultural valuables for which
      special rules of passing customs have been established.

      Nevertheless, on 14 September 2001 in the Volodar district court of Briansk
      Prosecutor Kanishchev insisted that the material evidence be sent for
      another expert analysis at the Ministry of Culture of RF. The analysis in
      the Ministry of Culture of 24 October 2001 was conducted under pressure and
      in the absence of the head of the department of licensing of the Department
      for Preservation of Cultural Valuables of the Ministry of Culture, V.S.
      Pogodin, who disagreed with the conclusions of the expert analysis, and it
      was recalled by the Ministry of Culture in a letter sent to the Volodar
      district court on 12 November 2001. The Volodar district court declined to
      review the letter from the Ministry of Culture of 12 November 2001
      regarding the recall of the expert analysis.

      A study of the general situation gives evidence of the following.

      First, A.G. Dubinin is not only a citizen of the Russian federation but
      also a baptized Old Believer who performs the duties of a cleric and has
      the status of Bishop of Kursk Apollinary. As a participant in the legal
      relations between citizens and society he performs his direct
      responsibilities as a priest before Old Believer parishioners and before
      God as a civil transaction.

      Old Belief appeared in Russia in 988 at the time of the baptism of Rus.

      Before the incident on the trip to Kremenchug, on 16 December 1999 there
      occurred a departure of a Kursk parish comprising seven Old Believer
      parishes, leaving the jurisdiction of the Novozybkov archdiocese, and
      Bishop of Kursk Apollinary joined them, and they do not have prayer
      fellowship with it [the archdiocese].

      Second, Bishop of Kursk Apollinary is a baptized Old Believer and does not
      belong to the Russian Orthodox church. However it is the Old Believers who
      have the distinctive features of the Russian Orthodox church and the
      Russian Orthodox Old Believer church. These are the manner of configuring
      the fingers for expressing the Orthodox faith and service to God. The
      Russian Orthodox church uses the three-finger blessing in services while
      the Russian Orthodox Old Believer church uses the two-finger blessing. The
      two-finger blessing of the Old Believers consists of the following: two
      fingers (the index and middle fingers) in the name of the two natures of
      Christ, divine and human, and the three fingers (the thumb and two last
      fingers) are joined in the name of the Holy Trinity (God the Father, God
      the Son, and God the Holy Spirit). The fingers are joined in this way to
      express the chief truths of the Orthodox faith. On the other hand, it is
      this distinctive trait of Old Believers that testifies to the fulfilment of
      his obligations before the parishoners and society in the civil
      transaction, which confirms their good conscience and reason in expressing
      the chief truths of the Orthodox faith. Thus the conduct and relations of
      A.G. Dubinin to the Old Believer Orthodox church testify to the true
      understanding of the Orthodox liturgy and also to his fulfilment of his
      obligations before parishioners and society. And if we had a priest of the
      Russian Orthodox church who would come to Kremenchug in Ukraine, then the
      use of the three-finger blessing as a symbol of divine worship in making
      the sign of the cross on one's self, expressing it with the three-finger
      blessing, would be saying that the Holy Trinity was crucified on the cross.
      Then we would not be able to receive juridically the significant
      circumstance that would confirm the expression of the Orthodox faith and
      service to God (juridical circumstances are the representations of Jesus
      Christ on icons, in churches and other shrines) in fulfilling his
      obligations before parishioners and society in the civil transaction of a
      cleric of the Russian Orthodox church. However, on another plane the
      psychological conduct of the cleric A.G. Dubinin testifies that he
      maintains his Orthodox faith and service to God in purity. However it is
      this clear trait of his, distinguishing him the Russian Orthodox church,
      that testifies that he is performing his obligations before Old Believer
      parishioners and God in good conscience, reasonably, and correctly, in
      accordance with the generally known circumstances on icons in Old Believer
      and Orthodox churches. And it is these distinctive characteristics that
      impose stern conditions that he must take with him articles of his labor
      for fulfiling his direct responsibilities before Old Believer parishioners
      and society in the civil transaction, in accordance with the provisions of
      articles 9 and 10 of the Civil Code of the Russian federation. The
      aforesaid are the juridical circumstances for the creation of civil rights
      and obligations in the performance of baptism, confession, communion, and
      the liturgy with the help of ecclesiastical articles only.

      Third. Responsible persons of the Briansk prosecutor's office and FSB,
      using their authority and performing their official duties beyond the
      limits of what is permitted, denied Bishop of Kursk Apollinary of his
      constitutional rights. As a result Bishop of Kursk Apollinary was summoned
      for his exercising his personal, exceptional constitutional rights of
      freedom of conscience, freedom of religious confessions and the right to
      disseminate religious and other convictions, which are not subject to
      restriction under any conditions in accordance with the provisions of
      article 28, part 3, and article 56 of the Russian constitution These rights
      have an exceptional character in as much as they are not regulated by the
      offices of the government and by the Russian federation. However, on the
      other hand deprivation of the rights and obligations of Bishops of Kursk
      Apollinary gives evidence of the commission of a crime on the part of
      workers of FSB and the prosecutor's office of Briansk province, provided by
      articles 285, part 2 and 286, part 2 of the Russian Criminal Code. On the
      other hand, the denial of the exercise of exceptional rights and
      obligations of Birshop of Kursk Apollinary established by article 28 and
      article 56, part 3, of the Russian constitution gives evidence of the
      incorrect practice of jurisprudence by the Briansk courts. In any review of
      the circumstances of the case regarding Bishop of Kursk Apollinary,
      especially since he belongs to the Old Believer Orthodox faith which
      contains the purity, good conscience, and rationality of divine worship and
      the unconditional truth of the Orthodox faith itself before parishioners
      and society, gives evidence of the absence of intention to commit the crime
      specified in article 188, part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code.

      Fourth. Investigation of the materials of the criminal case shows a
      complete absence in the actions of Bishop of Kursk Apollinary (A.G.
      Dubinin) of the commission of a crime, since he is an Old Believer priest
      and was invited to the city of Kremenchug for performance of church
      rituals, baptism, confession, communion, and the liturgy. The conclusion of
      the experts of the northwestern regional center of judicial expert analysis
      of 10 May 2001 gives evidence that the confiscated material
      evidence--books, a cross, and spoon for communion--do not represent any
      cultural and historical value. All materials of the case give evidence of
      the incorrect application of legal norms in the judicial sessions conducted
      previously and the illegal summons of an innocent person to account.

      On the other hand, there cannot be a prosecution of Bishop of Kursk
      Apollinary connected with his withdrawal from the official Novozybkovsk
      archdiocese of the Ancient Orthodox church and the formation of a new
      canonical structure.

      In all of this the actions and conduct of responsible persons of the
      prosecutor's office and FSB for Briansk province give evidence that the
      conduct of responsible persons exceeded the bounds of juridical
      prescriptions. As a result of the exceeding of the bounds of official
      obligations by responsible persons of the law enforcement agencies, Bishop
      of Kursk Apollinary's trip was interrupted and he was deprived of his
      exceptional constitutional rights along with the parishioners, which
      unquestionably gives evidence of the excesses and malfeasance of
      responsible authorized workers of the prosecutor's office and FSB.

      Next. A multitude of judicial sessions have been held over the course of
      four years (the incident happened 19 April 2000). The time for the review
      of a criminal case, established by article 6 of the European convention,
      was grossly violated. With the cooperation of the "For human rights" public
      movement, the appeal of A.G. Dubinin and the Center for Cooperation in
      International Defense was accepted by the European Court.

      After the appeal of the "For human rights" public movement to the chairman
      of the Supreme Court of the Russian federation, V.M. Lebedev, the
      vice-chairman of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, A.E.
      Merkushova, issued a protest against the sentence of the Volodar district
      court of the city of Briansk of 6 February 2002, and the decision of the
      judicial collegium for criminal cases of the Briansk provincial court of 22
      March 2002 with regard to Alexander Grigorievich Dubinin, who was sentenced
      in accordance with article 188, part 2, of the Criminal Code of RF
      (contraband). A session of the presidium of the Briansk provincial court
      scheduled for 24 December 2004 vacated the sentence of the Volodar district
      court of the city of Briansk and the decision of the judicial collegium
      with regard to A.G. Dubinin, and the case was sent for a new review. The
      protest sent by Supreme Court Vice-Chairman A.E. Merkushova and the order
      of the presidium of the Briansk provincial court presented the
      circumstances that give evidence of the innocence of Bishop of Kursk
      Apollinary.

      In 2003 a new session of the Volodar district court of the city of Briansk
      was held, with A.V. Riabukhin as judge. The court again issued a guilty
      verdict, with a six month suspended sentence and amnesty for the
      exceptional and unregulated rights and freedoms of the rector of the Old
      Believer Orthodox church, who understands the truth of the Orthodox divine
      worship and fufills his obligations before parishioners and society. This
      sentence was again vacated on 18 July 2003 on appeal, by decision of the
      Briansk provincial court. And the case was sent for a new judicial review
      in the same court with I.V. Lebedeva as judge, which has continued to the
      present. However the material presented above shows the juridical
      conditions of a violation of the period for review established by article 6
      of the European convention and is an unquestionable basis for a review of
      the prosecution by the European Court.

      Speaking about the circumstances of the guilt of the Ancient Orthodox
      Bishop of Kursk Apollinary (A.G. Dubinin), he has higher education and
      holds the kandidat degree in chemistry and is a docent of the Mendeleev
      Russian Chemical Technological University, while he simultaneously serves
      as rector of the Dormition church of Ancient Orthodox Christians of the
      city of Kursk. However, the trials held in Briansk province did not
      understand his rights and freedoms, including the obligations of a rector
      of the Old Believer church, that the items carried by Bishop of Kursk
      Apollinary through the customs barrier--books, cross, and eucharistic
      spoon--are not only ecclesiastical articles but are necessary objects for
      his daily work in fulfilling his obligations before other citizens and
      society, and it also confirms that he holds in purity his Orthodox faith
      and service to God, and in good conscience and reasonably understands,
      hears, and expresses the chief truths of the Orthodox faith, using only his
      instruments of labor. The exceptional rights of freedom to select, hold,
      and disseminate one's faith and other convictions, acting in accordance
      with the constitution and legislation of the Russian federation, have been
      legislatively confirmed for Bishop Apollinary. These rights and freedoms
      have an exceptional character and may not in any circumstances be regulated
      by federal legislation and are not subject to restriction by the Russian
      federation.

      A deep analysis of the factors, motives, goals, and other psychological
      characteristics determining the conduct of Bishop of Kursk Apollinary give
      evidence of the following:

      a. He went to Kremenchug to perform the all-night Easter vigil upon the
      invitation of fellow believers.
      b. A.G.Dubinin is a baptized Old Believer.
      c. He holds the office of Bishop of Kursk Apollinary.
      d. He had with him liturgical articles for performing sacraments (baptism,
      communion, consecrating of water, etc.) appropriate for the office of bishop.
      e. He is endowed with the exceptional constitutional rights and freedoms of
      freedom of conscience, freedom of religious confession, and the right to
      disseminate religious and other convictions.
      f. Among his obligations are the obligation of divine worship before Old
      Believer parishioners and society in a civil transaction, in accordance
      with the provisions of articles 9 and 10 of the Civil Code of the Russian
      federation.
      g. During his trip to Kremenchug to Ukraine he took with him liturgical
      articles, about which investigations have given the following evidence: a
      eucharistic spoon needed for communion, an altar cross for kissing the
      cross after the service and during confession, a "Sluzhebnik" liturgical
      book from 1913 containing services for the liturgy, matins, and vespers
      with prayers, a "New Testament" from 1912, God's revelation that is read at
      each service and on which confession is made, a "Trebnik" from 1910,
      prescribed for baptism, confession, consecration of water, etc., and a
      "Ritual of confession" published in 1910 with words and prayers for
      conducting confession.

      An analysis of the above cited facts, motives, goals, and other
      psychological characteristics of A.G. Dubinin, Bishop of Kursk Apollinary,
      gives evidence of the absence of intentional conduct for which he should be
      recognized as guilty of contraband. On the other hand, it shows that in
      fulfilling their juridical duties responsible persons of FSB and the
      prosecutor's office deprived Bishop of Kursk Apollinary of his rights and
      freedoms.

      The Russian Criminal Code does not provide for prosecuting Ancient Orthodox
      Bishop of Kursk Apollinary (A.G. Dubinin) for objects that he had always
      earlier used on his trips abroad for conducting ecclesiastical rituals, or
      for exceptional rights and freedoms and obligations in a civil transaction,
      or for understanding the most important truths of the Orthodox faith. On
      the other hand, the judicial authority of Briansk province in exercising
      justice deprived him of his constitutional rights and freedoms and failed
      to fulfill its obligations.

      The "For human rights" public movement concludes that in the actions of
      Bishop of Kursk Apollinary there is an absence of intentional conduct
      constituting a crime specified in article 188, part 2 of the Russian
      Criminal Code, while there is every basis for terminating the case.

      With respect,
      President of "For human rights" public movement, V.V. Stepanov.
      (tr. by PDS, posted 28 May 2004)
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.