In October 1998 the "Free Russian Orthodox Church" (FROC) was re-registered under the name of the "Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church" (ROAC). Presently the episcopate of ROAC consists of twelve bishops. The head of the Church was elevated to the rank of Metropolitan in March 2001.
The year 2002 was marked by a new turn in persecutions of the Russian Church. This time the civil authorities, conspiring with the MP, had chosen the path of "legal" prosecutions of the First Hierarch of ROAC, with the objective of discrediting him in the eyes of the Orthodox populace. In the spring and summer of 2002, in Suzdal, a disgusting court farce occurred, organized by the regional government of Vladimir together with the local organs of the FSB (successor to the KGB). Members of the extremist organization "Nashe Delo" ("Our Deed") also took an active part. Although the alleged "guilt" of Metropolitan Valentine had not been proven, and the court had not even ascertained the date of the "crimes," a "suspended sentence" was pronounced on the First Hierarch of ROAC. This entire shameful procedure was widely covered in the mass media, especially on television. The organizers of the persecution of Metropolitan Valentin, however, did not achieve the expected effect. The legal proceedings did not cause a single parish to leave the ROAC. On the contrary, priests and laymen, searching for true Orthodoxy, keep joining the Church. The flock of Christ's sheep, with the help of the Holy Spirit, is increasing and will remain according to His promise.