World Bulletin/News Desk
The Russian Orthodox Church has established rules for priests seeking elective office despite a ban on almost all political activity by religious in a country that considers itself secular, a church representative was quoted as saying on Friday.
Analysts said Russia's biggest and most influential religious organisation, whose leader has portrayed a protest by punk band Pussy Riot in a cathedral as part of an attack on the church, is seeking to increase its influence on public life.
Rights activists said it could blur the lines between the government and the Russian Orthodox Church, which have a long tradition of close ties that critics say are tightening again despite the constitution saying Russia is a secular state.
At a meeting on Thursday, the church's Holy Synod reaffirmed rules set last year allowing priests to contest elections in cases when "schismatic" forces, or those of another faith, are seeking to use elective office to fight against the church.
Such a case could arise, for example, if "a political force declares that it is running in elections and that one of its aims is to fight Orthodoxy and the Russian church", Vladimir Legoida, a church spokesman, said in comments posted on the Internet.
Those rules are not new, Legoida said, but the church also set out "a clear mechanism" for priests or other church representatives who believe they should run for office or a legislative seat.
They must apply to the church leadership for permission, explaining their reasoning, he said.
Priests are still barred from joining political parties, even if they run in elections, Legoida said, and he said such had been tightened.
Despite the restrictions, the move indicates that "the church ... wants more involvement in politics," said Ksenia Sergazina of the Sova think-tank.
She said another example was legislation submitted to parliament last month that could set jail terms of up to three years for offending the religious sensitivities of the faithful.
Interfax news agency quoted Lyudmila Alexeyeva, a prominent human rights activist, as saying priests running in elections would be "another step in the direction of the clericalisation of our system".
"All these steps mean that the Russian Orthodox Church is becoming a state religion," she was quoted as saying.
Valerie Amos frequently urged the Security Council to immediately act to ensure more humanitarian access in Syria.
Ukraine's Prime Minister Yatsenyuk says they will sue Russia at international courts to seek compensation for the alleged damage done to their country.
The money was earmarked in the 2013/2014 parliamentary budget for foreign trips by the members of parliament.
Kenyatta’s speech came one day after hundreds of people demonstrated outside his office in Nairobi to protest what they dubbed as the government’s failure to control growing insecurity in the country.
John Gatt-Rutter said he was painfully aware how much needed to be done to speed up the delivery of aid to Gaza's 1.8 million people.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in its bulletin for the quake that no tsunami warning was in effect.
The seven investigators and academic legal experts said publication of the report by a Senate committee would be welcomed by victims of torture and their supporters everywhere.
Mohammad Farhadi, a centrist who held senior positions in a previous reformist administration, secured a 197-28 vote of confidence with 10 abstentions in the conservative-dominated Majlis
The initiative comes as Britain's Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government faces pressure from the rise of anti-EU and anti-immigration sentiments
Warship and fighter jet deals expected to be signed in Paris despite calls by NGO's for arms to be blocked over Egyptian President's human rights record
Rebiya Khadeer accuses China of oppressing Uighur minorities and carrying out genocide and other atrocities in East Turkestan
Several NGO’s in Turkey demand release of two Azerbaijani citizens and call Armenia’s hostage taking as “lawless.”
Russia's moves over Ukraine call European peace order into question and break international laws, says German leader
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin and Moualem were discussing "bilateral relations", declining further comment.
The camp, south of the capital between Saudi Arabia's border and Al Udeid, the largest U.S. air base in the Middle East, is being used to train the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other moderate rebels
Hydroelectric and nuclear power plants are running flat out to help cover the shortfall but the country's old electricity grid and infrastructure to do not guarantee reliable supply.