Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 151

Moscow has launched a protest campaign against the Estonian government for granting legal registration to the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church, governed by a synod in Stockholm, and not to the branch of the Russian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate in Estonia. Russia’s Foreign Ministry condemned Estonia’s "lawlessness against our Orthodox compatriots" and "the victimization of the Orthodox Church unleashed in Estonia," purportedly "dictated by Estonia’s highest officials" to break the links between Estonia’s Orthodox and the Russian Orthodox Church. The Ministry protested in a separate statement against the Estonian government’s failure to immediately issue a visa to Congress of Russian Communities founding chairman Dmitri Rogozin, who charged that "Orthodoxy in Estonia is threatened with total destruction." The Duma’s International Affairs Committee chairman Vladimir Lukin (Yabloko) wrote to the Council of Europe accusing Estonia of violating religious freedom. The Compatriots’ Congress, a standing advisory body attached to the Duma, issued its own protest, also asking President Boris Yeltsin to intervene. (9)

Estonia’s government recognizes the Stockholm synod as successor to the pre-war Orthodox Church and legal owner of Church property. Unrecognized by the Moscow Patriarchate, the synod is canonically linked with the Russian Orthodox Church in Exile and seeks to be taken under the higher jurisdiction of the Constantinople Patriarchate. A Tallinn court on December 8 turned down the claim of the Moscow-affiliated church to be recognized as the legal owner of church property. The court upheld the independent synod’s title to the property, and thereby a recent decision by Tallinn municipality to turn church buildings and other property over to the legitimate EAOC.

Russia-Belarus Military Agreements.