Tallinn Court Rules That Estonian Interior Ministry And Orthodox Church Resolve Registration Dispute

The Tallinn city court issued a ruling Wednesday that by March 6, the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and Estonia's Interior Ministry find a mutually acceptable solution to the problem of registering that church. This is the first time the court has considered a suit from the Moscow Patriarchate's Estonian Orthodox Church, which has had its 8 registration applications turned down by the Interior Ministry. The Orthodox Church has been functioning in the republic for several centuries now. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Estonian authorities demanded that the Church change its statute and status and be renamed either the Estonian Diocese of the Moscow Patriarchate or the Estonian Eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church. The plaintiff rejects the demand as illegitimate and insists that the status, the statute and the name of a church are determined by a church assembly rather than by secular government officials. As top clergymen of the Estonian Orthodox Church see it, the Interior Ministry's refusal to register the Church violates the law and the rights of Orthodox Christians in Estonia.

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