D. I. Kurskii, Instruction Concerning the Registration of Religious Societies and Permits for their Congresses. April 27, 1923
Original Source: Izvestiia, No. 92, 27 April 1923.
(1) The citizens of the RSFSR can have at their disposal places of religious worship and the necessary property for carrying on religious services either by means of organizing groups of persons belonging to a certain religion, registered in accordance with the order established by the instruction of the People’s Commissariat of Justice of August 24, 1918 (Compilation of Decrees, 1918, No. 62, page 685), or by organizing religious societies in compliance with the Decree of the Central Executive Committee of August 3, 1922 (Compilation of Decrees, 1922, No. 49, page 622.) and registered in accordance with the present instruction.
(2) According to the Decree of the Central Executive Committee of August 3, 1922, no religious society of any religion whatsoever can begin its activities without being previously registered in the administrative department of a Provincial or Regional Executive Committee.
(3) Citizens desiring to establish a religious society must submit to the administrative department of a Provincial or Regional Executive Committee together with a declaration concerning registration, the following documents in three copies: (a) minutes of the conference of the founders of the society (three copies); (b) articles of incorporation of the society (three copies); (c) the list of founders (three copies), attaching also the following information concerning their personalities (three copies) – (1) name, surname and father’s name, (2) residence and address, (3) social standing, (4) social and official position since 1914, (5) class to which they belonged prior to the revolution, (6) financial standing, (7) date on which they joined the given religion; (d) the necessary stamp duty must also be provided.
(4) The societies existing at the time of the promulgation of the present instruction have to submit to the administrative department of a Provincial or Regional Committee, together with a declaration concerning registration (three copies), the following documents: (a) articles of incorporation of the society (three copies); (b) list of members of the society and membership of the executive committee at the present time (three copies), in a form indicated in Paragraph “c” of Article 3 of the present instruction; (c) list of priests, bishops and preachers and other responsible workers according to the form established by Paragraph “c” of Article 3.
(5) The administration department of a Provincial or Oblast Executive Committee will refuse registration of an existing society, or one being established, in the event that: (a) the number of members or founders of the religious society is less than 50 local inhabitants enjoying full rights; (b) articles of incorporation of the given society, its object or methods of preaching, violate the Constitution or laws of the RSFSR
(6) In case there are no reasons to refuse the registration of a religious society, the administrative department will return a copy of the articles of incorporation of the society with an endorsement and seal concerning the registration of the society, which copy must be kept in the files of the society.
(7) Religious societies which are not registered within the period of three months from the date of the promulgation of the present instruction in the Izvestiia will be closed.
(8) Religious societies of the same religion are permitted to convoke provincial or All-Russian congresses on the basis of and in accordance with the decree of the Central Executive Committee of June 12, 1922 (Compilation of Decrees, 1922, No. 40, Page 477) and instruction concerning its enforcement of August 10, 1922 (Compilation of Decrees, 1922, No. 49, Page 624).
(9) Provincial and All-Russian Congresses of religious societies are permitted to elect executive bodies. The lists of members of these executive bodies must be submitted to the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs or to the administrative departments of a Provincial or Regional Executive Committee in compliance with a form established by Paragraph “c” of Article 3.
(10) The congresses of religious societies and executive bodies elected by these congresses cannot (1) establish obligatory money collections; (2) possess religious property or receive it against contracts; (3) conclude any kind of transactions or contracts.
(11) The People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs and its local departments are instructed to exercise control over the activities of religious societies, unions or congregations.
(12) All religious societies are subject to the general rules concerning private societies and organizations, but are deprived of the rights of a juridical person and (of holding) property.
(13) All religious societies of any religion have equal rights, as concerns their rights and duties, and enjoy no privileges or subsidies, either from the government or from its local autonomous administrations.
(14) Members of religious societies or their representatives are permitted to collect voluntary donations for covering the expenditures connected with the possession- of common religious. property, such as heating, protection and cleaning and repairs of places of religious worship.
(15) Possessing no rights of a juridical person or of property, religious societies are permitted to conclude contracts of a private legal character connected with the exploitation of religious property, such as contracts concerning the hiring of a chorus, repairs of books, etc.
NOTE: Such transactions cannot assume the character of a commercial or industrial contract, even when connected with religion, such as the lease of candle factories, printing establishments for printing religious books, etc.
(16) The citizens belonging to a religious society are permitted, for the execution of resolutions of their general conferences as well as for representation, to appoint, if need be, their religious officials and to appoint from among themselves the necessary number of representatives who will act within the limits of the rights granted to them.
NOTE: The lists of officials and other responsible persons must be submitted to the administration departments, together with information required by Paragraph “c”, Article 3 of the present instruction.
(17) The order of the closing of religious societies is established by Articles 6 and 11 of the decree of the Central Executive Committee of August 3, 1922.
People’s Commissar of Justice: Kurskii
Assistant People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs: Beloborodov
Source: Boleslaw B. Szczesniak, ed. and tr., Russian Revolution and Religion; a collection of documents concerning the suppression of religion by the Communists, 1917-1925 (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1959), pp. 148-151.