By Paul Goble
For years, Russian Orthodox priests and activists have denounced Halloween as protested against its celebration in Russia, but this year, for the first time ever, they are seeking to have the government help them ban the holiday by using the provisions of the Yarovaya law
According to the activists, German Petelin and Artur Gromov of “Gazeta” say, “Halloween is a celebration of the victory of dark forces ‘over the forces of the Son of God,’” and thus is in fact “a satanic ritual” is exactly the kind of thing that the Yarovaya law was passed to extirpate from the Russian land (gazeta.ru/social/2016/10/28/10283807.shtml).
Petelin and Gromov report that opponents of Halloween have turned to the Russian procurator general “with a demand to check the legality of the celebration on the eve of All Saints’ Day on the territory of Russia.” In their view, “this holiday contradicts Russian law and propagandizes a cult of Satan that is ‘alien to Russians.’”
Satanism, however, is not officially prohibited in Russia; and consequently, the opponents of Halloween are now arguing that some group or groups must be responsible for the celebration of the holiday and that these groups must obey the laws by registering with the authorities or be banned.
Otherwise, they argue, the celebration of Halloween “in public places crudely violates the existing law of the Russian Federation and therefore must be prohibited.”
Leading the charge in this regard is Vyatka lawyer Yaroslav Mikhailov who gained notoriety earlier for his efforts to suppress what he believes is the propaganda of homosexuality via emojis. He says that Halloween is “a religious ritual” and as such violates Russian law because its authors are unregistered with the authorities.
Mikhailov’s legal initiative has the support of the upper reaches of the Moscow Patriarchate, the “Gazeta” journalists say. But it faces a problem: officials at the Procuracy General say that they haven’t received it yet – processing such things takes time – and so may not be able to make a ruling before October 31.