19 February 2013, 16:43
United Russia deputies want expert's offer to reform Russian Church
probed for extremism
Moscow, February 19, Interfax - Mikhail Markelov, a State Duma deputy
from the United Russia party, intends to ask the Russian Investigative
Committee to check an article by a political expert Stanislav Belkovsky,
published in the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper, for extremism and
"If violations of these articles [of the Russian Criminal Code on
extremism and defamation] are found in Belkovsky's material, I demand a
criminal case against him to be opened," the website of United Russia
quoted Markelov, a member of the State Duma Committee on Nationalities,
as saying at a meeting on Tuesday.
Belkovsky wrote in his article, published on February 15, that the
Russian Orthodox Church "has to be transformed into a confederation of
independent parishes," where "parishioners will elect pastors, pastors -
bishops, bishops - the patriarch." "The reformation is necessary so that
the Church becomes an institution for the emancipation of Russians and
ceases to be an agent of authoritarianism and a servant of the secular
authorities," Belkovsky wrote.
"Belkovsky's article is definitely causing additional tension in society
and is creating a very serious conflict," Chairman of the State Duma
committee on regulation and United Russia member, Sergei Popov, said
"We think that the Orthodox community and clergy should evaluate this,
whether they might file a complaint with the prosecutor's office on
these issues to investigate. It would be right if they were to take
advantage of this opportunity," the United Russia website quoted Popov.
Belkovsky said he did not give grounds for a criminal case to be opened
against him, however he did not rule out one being opened.
"All statements, saying that my concept to reform the Russian Orthodox
Church are extremist and deserve a criminal case, have nothing to do
with either the spirit or the letter of the Christian religion, or
Russian criminal legislation," Belkovsky told Interfax.
"I don't rule out a criminal being opened," he said.