Posted by: becketfund | May 4, 2009

Russia: Nation is Put on Religion Watch List

MOSCOW – A U.S. Congress-backed panel has included Russia on its watch list of countries where people’s religious freedoms are at risk, The Moscow Times reported on May 4. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said the main reason it had put Russia on the watch list of 11 countries was the creation in February of the Justice Ministry’s Expert Religious Studies Council, “which was given extremely wide powers to investigate religious organizations, including their activities and literature, for a broad array of reasons, including extremism.” The 269-page report, which devotes 15 pages to Russia, also expresses concern that the council’s head, prominent anti-cult activist Alexander Dvorkin, lacks academic credentials as a religion specialist, his deputy Roman Silantyev has written articles intolerant of “so-called radical Islam” and the council includes five pro-Russian Orthodox Church members known for attacking Protestant faiths. The report also raises concerns about religious liberty in four other former Soviet republics, including Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, together with countries like China, North Korea and Saudi Arabia.

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