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5 September 2003

TRANSDNIESTER: Methodists live "twilight existence," leader claims

The two Methodist congregations in the separatist republic of Transdniester in eastern Moldova live a twilight existence, their leader reports. "We can't rent anywhere for services and we can't afford to buy property. We have to meet semi-legally in private flats," Dmitri Hantil told Forum 18 News Service. He said their local registration applications in 1997 and again in 2000 had stalled as they refused to pay a bribe of at least 500 US dollars sought by Pyotr Zalozhkov, the commissioner of religion and cults. Forum 18 tried to reach Zalozhkov but his phone went unanswered. The Methodists have also sought registration with the Moldovan authorities – so far in vain.

29 April 2003

TRANSDNIESTER: Police move to crush Baptist street libraries

Authorities in Bendery (Tighina) in the unrecognised republic of Transdniester in eastern Moldova have moved to crush a street library run by local Baptists. A Baptist statement reaching Forum 18 News Service reported that on 20 April police confiscated all the books for a second time. "This activity is illegal in Transdniester," the city police chief Valeri Smyk told Forum 18. The local security ministry insisted that the matter was nothing to do with them. The Baptists – who reject registration on principle – have long complained about harassment from the Transdniestran authorities, which insist that because they are not registered they should not be allowed to function.

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