The Future of Religious Liberty in Russia: Report of the De Burght Conference on Pending Russian Legislation Restricting Religious Liberty
35 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2011 Last revised: 15 Jan 2020
Date Written: 1994
This Article criticizes pending Russian legislation that will, if enacted, severely restrict religious freedom for non-traditional religions in Russia. The pending law violates Russia’s own 1990 law on Freedom of Conscience and Religion and its obligations under the 1993 Russia Constitution and various international human rights treaties that it has ratified. The most serious infraction concerns various restrictions and regulations of "foreign" and "nontraditional" religious organizations. Moreover, the law weakens guarantees that all believers and religious communities will be treated equally. It guarantees fundamental human rights protection only to citizens. It expands opportunities for inappropriate state regulation of religious affairs. It appears to single out the Russian Orthodox Church for special privileges and protections that go beyond legitimate recognition of its unique role in Russian history, culture, and society. While the pending law does not totally dismantle the regime of religious freedom established by the 1990 Law, the changes reflect a clear effort to utilize the levers of state power to discriminate against noncitizens, to increase state control of religious organizations, and to restrict access of Russian citizens to religious orientations other than those already dominant in Russian society. They clearly disadvantage those who belong to religious communities with foreign ties. In the last analysis, they constitute an entering wedge that ultimately jeopardizes the religious liberty of all inhabitants of the Russian Federation, including that of the Russian Orthodox Church and its members.
Keywords: Proselytism, Missionaries, Russia, Russian Orthodox Church Law, human rights, de Burght conference, religion, law, religious liberty, Church-State Relations
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