Tuesday, 1 September 2009

RUSSIA: Controversial figure heads the new

On 3 April, Alexander Dvorkin, the Russian priest most famous for the defamation of religious groups not belonging to the Moscow Patriarchate of the Orthodox faith, was elected Chairman of the Justice Department’s “Commission for the Implementation of State Expertise on Religious Science”, reports Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists. This committee had been officially founded a month earlier on 3 March. Dvorkin, a US citizen and according to some reports a 1983 graduate of Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood/New York, is a self-avowed specialist on the cults. He is known for the broken glass and other acts of vandalism committed against religious buildings following in the wake of his public appearances across Russia.

The result of his election was a vociferous and immediate outcry from academic experts on religion and others acknowledging the multi-ethnic and multi-religious character of Russian society. Citing Russian literature, the religion expert Michael Sitnikov compared Dvorkin’s election to “authorising the donkey to guard the vegetable patch”.

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