For Immediate Release
July 6, 2000
Local authorities in Northern Ossetia restrict freedom of worship
“The local religious organisation of Jehovah’s Witnesses is hereby prohibited from opening its Kingdom Hall in Alagir on July 5 or any subsequent use of the building.” So read the Alagir District administration’s order of July 4, 2000, issued one day before the planned opening. It appears all local law-enforcement agencies were called upon to implement the order. Police officers cordoned off the entire perimeter of the Kingdom Hall to prevent entrance. They obstructed any efforts to photograph or film the event. OMON officers checked all cars entering the city. On the previous day, electric power to the Kingdom Hall was cut off.
The new modern building in Alagir, built in an unbelievable eight days, was a result of a unique building project. This is the first Kingdom Hall (a spiritual centre for Jehovah’s Witnesses) in the Republic of Northern Ossetia (Alania), and it was built by the local religious organisation with the assistance of the Administrative Centre of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. This miracle became possible thanks to the labors of volunteer construction workers who came from various regions and republics of Russia.
On July 1, 2000, one day before the completion of the construction project, representatives of the local religious organisation of Jehovah’s Witnesses were handed a protest issued by the Alagir District Prosecutor’s Office against the permit issued by the Alagir City Administration for the construction project. The protest demanded that the permit be annulled as illegal. Therefore, the process of handing over the completed construction project for use was suspended.
The actions of the local organisation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Alagir are beyond reproach as the project was carried out with all the necessary construction permits. Neither the Alagir District administration, nor the prosecutor’s office objected to the construction project, and no measures were taken to terminate the construction project in its preliminary phases. In doing so they recognized the legality of the project.
“We are deeply concerned about what is taking place, and we can only guess how this will end,” said Jaroslav Sivulsky, representative of Jehovah’s Witnesses. “But we are determined to defend our rights for freedom as enshrined in the Russian Constitution.”
Contact: J. R. Brown (718) 560-5600