MOSCOW, JULY 31 -- A small group of religious activists today launched an unofficial magazine that they say will give voice to a growing religious revival in the Soviet Union.
The Bulletin of the Christian Community, issued in 20 typed copies of about 200 pages each, is the second attempt by Soviet dissidents to test Kremlin leader Mikhail Gorbachev's official policy of glasnost, or openness, with publications airing subjects still considered taboo in the official press.
At a press conference today, editors of the bulletin criticized the official Orthodox Church here for failing to address the needs of the faithful.
"The time has come to give the word to believers," said Alexander Ogorodnikov, an organizer of the new publication. Ogorodnikov was freed from pris on in February after serving eight years for his part in
The articles in the new bulletin, which range from accounts of religious figures still in prison to a discussion of next year's celebration of 1,000 years of Christianity in Russia, are signed, and the editors sent a copy of the first issue to the Communist Party Central Committee.
According to Ogorodnikov, the copy, addressed to Politburo member Alexander Yakovlev, was returned. "We don't expect a positive response from authorities," he said.
However, Ogorodnikov emphasized that in his view the new publication is both legal and independent. "We consider that God gave us this right, and no state can take it away," he said. The approach to the Central Committee was not to obtain official approval but to seek help with publishing the monthly journal, he said.
The second issue of the unofficial journal Glasnost, which appeared earlier this month, will be out next week and will include an article on the current activities of the KGB, the Soviet security police, written by editor Sergei Grigoryants.
Grigoryants said 100 copies of the first issue are in circulation, and a Russian-language edition has been released in Paris. An English-language edition is being prepared for release in New York, he said.
Grigoryants, who was also freed from prison this year after a top-level review of political prosecutions, had been convicted of editing underground publications on human rights. So far, the authorities have not interfered with the publication of Glasnost.
While he is not seeking official status, Grigoryants said he would not refuse it, although official journals have to be submitted to authorities for review. Grigoryants said it would also allow him to seek contributors who are now hesitant to write for Glasnost.