Kosovo’s ‘Noise Pollution’ Bill Riles Religious Communities

10/2/14- RFE/RL PRISTINA -- How loud is too loud? And are some sounds more acceptable than others? Those are some of the questions being discussed in Kosovo as a heated debate has unfolded over proposed legislation aimed at reducing "noise pollution." The new bill, sponsored by the Environment and Spatial Planning Ministry, would harmonize the country’s legislation with European Union ...

Georgian Patriarch’s Surrogacy Remarks Spark Protests, Clashes

By RFE/RL's Georgian Service - 14/1/14 TBILISI -- Picketers and government ministers have protested a statement by Orthodox Patriarch Ilia II suggesting children born by surrogate mothers or through artificial insemination will be "problematic" in their adulthood. The resulting debate has also sparked skirmishes between supporters and detractors of the patriarch. The assertion came in Ilia's Christmas address ...

New Armenian Cathedral Opens In Moscow

  RFE/RL's Armenian Service - 19/9/13 MOSCOW -- A new cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic Church has opened in Moscow. Armenia's Catholicos Garegin II presided over the consecration ceremony on September 17. Guests at the ceremony included Armenia's President Serzh Sarkisian and Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as representatives of other religions. The cathedral is the ...

Gloves Come Off In Moldova’s Church-State Battle

Mircea Ticudean - 3/7/13 It is a little like the proverbial unstoppable force running up against an immovable object. Moldova's reformist, pro-EU ruling coalition is increasingly running up against the country's powerful, conservative Orthodox Church as it approaches the coveted goal of initialing an Association Agreement with the European Union in Vilnius in November. Integration with the European ...

US Congressman calls to protect Syria’s Armenians

10/8/2012 U.S. Congressman Gus Bilirakis called on official Washington to prioritize the security of Syria’s Christians, including Armenians. The member of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a non-biding resolution which he hopes will be circulated in Congress next month. “We have to speak out on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Christ and I will continue ...

Death In Church-Run Drug Rehab Center In Serbia Sparks Calls For Oversight

Serbian Orthodox priest and Harley-Davidson enthusiast Branislav Peranovic is facing murder charges for allegedly beating a drug-rehab patient to death. By Branka Trivic 10/8/2012 BELGRADE -- The death this week of a patient in a drug rehabilitation center connected to the Serbian Orthodox Church has sparked calls for greater scrutiny of such facilities, which have been operating ...

Cathedral Restoration Causes Headache For Georgian President

Coilin O'Connor with contributions from RFE/RL correspondent Merkhat Sharipzhanov and RFE/RL's Georgian Service 19/6/2012 Georgian Orthodox Patriarch Ilia II has ordered the suspension of restoration work at the world-renowned Bagrati Cathedral. The announcement on June 18 by Georgia's State Agency for National Heritage Preservation could have major political repercussions for President Mikheil Saakashvili, who had strongly backed the ...

As Economy Reels, Belarusian Beggars Face Cold Shoulder From Authorities

Vyachaslau (left) and Syarhey begging for money outside the Peter and Paul Cathedral in Homel.

By RFE/RL 24/1/2012 HOMEL, Belarus -- Three beggars -- a woman and two men with ruddy faces and chapped hands -- are standing in the early morning snow outside the Peter and Paul Cathedral in the southeastern Belarusian city of Homel. One of the men, with sad eyes and a graying beard, introduces himself as Vyachaslau. "I have ...

Russian Patriarch’s Visit To Kyrgyzstan Postponed Again

1/12/2011 BISHKEK -- A planned visit to Kyrgyzstan by the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill I, has been postponed again, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports. The Russian Orthodox Church's Bishkek and Kyrgyzstan Diocese secretary, Archpriest Igor Dronov, told RFE/RL that the exact date of Kirill's visit to Kyrgyzstan was not yet certain. The visit was originally ...

Belarusian Christians Sue Minsk Police

24/11/2011 MINSK -- Christian organizations in Minsk filed a lawsuit today against police in connection with the violent dispersal on November 22 of Christians gathered in the Belarusian capital's October Square, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports. Activists from Minsk's Orthodox Christian, Roman Catholic, and Protestant churches have been gathering on the square daily since the beginning of November ...

Moldovan Premier Warns Church Against Political Meddling

Moldovan Prime Mininster Vlad Filat

25/9/2011 CHISINAU -- Moldova's Prime Minister Vlad Filat has warned the country's powerful Orthodox Church to stop meddling in state affairs, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports. "Every citizen has a right to protest, but since the state does not interfere in the activities of the church, the church should also stop interfering in the business of the state," ...

Moldovan Government To Review Recognition Of Islam

By RFE/RL 26/5/2011 The Justice Ministry registered the Islamic League in mid-March, after Moldova's tiny Muslim minority had tried in vain for years to obtain some kind of official recognition, triggering a wave of protests from the dominant Orthodox Church. CHISINAU -- Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat has pledged to review the recent registration of Islam as one ...

Moldovans Rally To Protest Formal Recognition Of Islam

18/5/2011 CHISINAU -- Hundreds of Moldovans have taken to the streets in Chisinau to protest the government's recognition of the country's tiny Muslim minority, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports. Some participants in the rally warned that the decision would open the door to terrorism and lead to mass conversions to Islam. "We want to guard our borders and to ...

Archbishop Unrepentant About Gun, Luxury Car Possession

06.04.2011 Sargis Harutyunyan A high-ranking cleric of the Armenian Apostolic Church on Wednesday defended his ownership of a handgun and luxury car which was revealed by the Armenian press recently. Archbishop Navasard Kchoyan, head of the church’s largest diocese encompassing Yerevan and the southern Ararat province, shrugged off the resulting outcry in some media and online social networks. ...

Christians Criticize Tajik Bill Barring Youth From Churches, Mosques

17/2/2011 QURGHONTEPPA, Tajikistan -- Russian Orthodox Christians in southern Tajikistan are critical of a draft law on "parental responsibility" that would ban children under 18 from worshipping in churches, mosques, and other houses of worship, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports. Nikolay Golub, the pastor of the Russian Orthodox Church in Qurghonteppa, told RFE/RL on February 16 that it ...

Moldovan Orthodox Group Warns Against Menorah Display

11/11/2010 CHISINAU -- A Christian-Orthodox association in Moldova has asked officials to prevent the Jewish community from displaying a menorah in downtown Chisinau ahead of the upcoming Hanukkah holidays, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports. On November 10, hundreds of Christians marched in downtown Chisinau warning City Hall to ban the Jewish community from displaying the menorah this year ...

Echmiadzin Condemns Turkish Nationalist Prayer in Ani Cathedral

4/10/2010 ECHMIADZIN, Armenia (RFE/RL)–The Armenian Apostolic Church on Saturday expressed outrage at a Muslim religious service held in an Armenian holy site in eastern Turkey, calling it a serious blow to efforts to improve Turkish-Armenian relations. In a written statement, the Holy See of Echmiadzin strongly condemned the Turkish government for allowing the country’s leading ultranationalist party ...

Georgians Concerned About State Of Religious Sites In Abkhazia

7/9/2010 TBILISI -- Georgian officials are expessing concern over the condition of historical monuments in its breakaway region of Abkhazia, RFE/RL's Georgian Service reports. Paata Davitaia, deputy speaker of the Georgian parliament, said he is "deeply concerned" over the fate of Georgian Orthodox churches and monasteries in Abkhazia. He said many of them are in danger of ...