Salvation Army Re-Registration Case
28 December 2000
Slavic Center for Law and Justice
November 29, 2000
Moscow City Court ruling on "Salvation Army" Case:
Precedent May Be Used to Persecute Religious Organizations having Centers Abroad
Yesterday, on the 28th of November, the Moscow City Court dismissed the cassation filed by the "Salvation Army" Moscow branch. Vladimir Ryakhovsky of the Slavic Center for Law and Justice believes that thus a dangerous precedent was created that may be used to challenge the registration of many other organizations having centers abroad.
In fact, the ruling confirmed the decision of the Presnensky district court which read that the "Salvation Army", Protestant Christian organization, is a "military association". "It is difficult to imagine something as absurd as that", - Ryakhovsky says.
The Moscow branch of the "Salvation Army" was refused state re-registration and appealed to the Presnensky court. The Court, however, did not even review some of the points of this appeal, ruled that the refusal was justified. The court also came to the conclusion that the "Salvation Army" was a "military association" and, being subordinated to the foreign center, might not be reregistered as organization enjoying full right but could only exist as a representation of a foreign religious organization in Russia. This last point directly contradicts the interpretation of the law on religion given by the Constitutional Court of Russia in its ruling of April, 13, 2000.
"The decision of the Presnensky Court contains so many mistakes in terms of law and procedure that it must have been overturned by the court of cassation right away", - Ryakhovsky believes. However the Moscow City Court left it unchanged and having full legal force.
The court decision puts the "Salvation Army" Moscow branch under direct threat of dissolution as the term of re registration expires on December 31. Besides it can form a legal basis to challenge registration of other religious organizations with the centers abroad which include the Roman-Catholic Church, many Protestant denominations, the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Mormons, etc. "This decision must be canceled by all means", - Vladimir Ryakhovsky says.