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Bulgaria: Patriarch Files Complaint With Rights Commission

Sofia, 2 May 1997 (RFE/RL) - The head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Maxim, has filed a complaint with the European Human Rights Commission in Strasbourg against the Bulgarian Supreme Court and the Prosecutor General.

A spokesman for the Holy Synod told an RFE/RL correspondent that if the commission accepts the complaint, Patriach Maxim may take the case to the European Court.

Patriarch Maxim is protesting a July ruling of the Bulgarian Supreme Court, which indirectly upheld an earlier decision of the then Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) government, pronouncing Maxim's Holy Synod illegitimate and supporting an alternative Synod, led by another Patriarch, Pimen.

The division within the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is on political grounds. Maxim's Synod was pronounced illegitimate because most of its members were not elected, but appointed by the former Communist regime.