15 April 2011, 10:24
Pastor defrocked in Finland for criticizing Kavkaz-Center website
Helsinki, April 15, Interfax - The Lutheran Church of Finland has dismissed the Finnish pastor, Doctor of Theology Juha Molari, for his criticism of the Kavkaz-Center website as related to Chechen terrorist leader Doku Umarov.
"The Espo chapter of the Lutheran Church of Finland has dismissed Juha Molari as the pastor of the Raseborg Lutheran parish today. He has been defrocked and deprived of all means of subsistence," Johan Backman, the chairman of the Finnish Antifascist Center, told Interfax.
The reason cited was that "as a pastor, Molari had no right to criticize the Kavkaz-Center website, or claim that it is the mouthpiece of Chechen terrorists," Backman said.
"The pastor's dismissal was initiated by ex-chairman of the Finnish PEN-Club Jukku Mollinen and European Parliament member and chair of the human rights sub-committee Heidi Hautala of Finland, both known for their anti-Russian bias," he said.
"Known for their Russophobia and anti-Russian stance, they insisted that Molari be prosecuted," he said, adding that "the Finnish Commissioner for minorities' rights Eva Biaudet demanded on April 6 that a criminal case be started against Molari, after he told the Russia Today television channel how tolerant the Finnish authorities are to the Kavkaz-Center website and Chechen terrorists in general."
Both blamed Molari for instigating ethnic enmity, targeted against Chechens, and demanded the pastor's prosecution, Backman said.
The pastor's dismissal may be connected with the trial of Kavkaz-Center Editor-in-Chief Mikael Storsjo, starting Friday, who was accused of smuggling Chechens to Finland from Turkey. Subsequently, some of these Chechens cooperated with the website. "This may be revenge for his adamant position on supporters of Chechen terrorists," he said.
Molari has been campaigning for the website's shutdown over the propaganda of terrorism. He turned to the police in October 2010 and complained he had been threatened by Chechen terrorists and separatists.
On September 26, 2010, he received a letter, signed by Doku Umarov, reading: "I recommend that you stop campaigning against the Kavkaz-Center website. If you don't, we will cut off you and your family's heads. You have seven days at your disposal."
Meanwhile, the police found the demand to shutdown the website unfounded and refused to start a criminal inquiry into the pastor's complaints.