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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

02/21/1997

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Bishops Punish Dissenters

Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, struggling to maintain unity in a rapidly modernizing society, decided Thursday to excommunicate the head of the breakaway Ukrainian church and a defiant defrocked priest. The Council of Bishops, meeting this week in Moscow, imposed the punishment on Patriarch Filaret, head of the breakaway Kiev Patriarchate, and Gleb Yakunin, a former dissident priest and a current deputy in Russia's parliament. A church commission also advised against bestowing sainthood on Tsar Nicholas II, murdered by the Bolsheviks after the Russian Revolution, Interfax reported. Both Filaret and Yakunin are vehement critics of the Moscow Patriarchate and have already been defrocked. The two have refused to recognize the church's decisions, however, and continue to wear clerical garments and conduct their church activities.

State Radio Stations Appeal for Funds

Directors of Russia's state-owned national radio stations made a plea for more funding at a joint press-conference Thursday, arguing they fulfill a crucial social function and cannot survive without state help. The national channels Radio 1, Radio Russia, Mayak, Yunost and Orfei, which Russia inherited from the Soviet Union's vast government-funded TV and radio system, received only 4 percent of what was planned in the state budget, directors said. ""We are slowly dying,"" said Sergei Davydov, head of Radio Russia. He complained that young journalists are not coming to work at the radio while old ones are staying only because they have no place to go. ""They are not needed at the private commercial DJ stations,"" he said. New private radio stations have flourished in recent years, providing tough competition for the state channels, the directors said. The new stations are mostly on the FM band, using low-power transmitters that don't reach out to the countryside.

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