Special to ASSIST News Service
KIEV, UKRAINE (ANS) -- The Department of Justice of the Russian Federation has drawn up and published a new federal legal amendment regarding religious organizations and freedom of conscience.
A Russian 'house church' holds a Sunday morning worship service
“The foundation of spiritual unions has been changed simultaneously with the list of reasons to deny the registration of such organizations,” said the Independent Newspaper in its story.
According to www.gazeta.ru, citizens who decide to found a religious group must inform the Department of Justice in written form. Such a group will be registered if it has more than 10 members, its own charter and decision of the religious examination.
Lev Levinson, an expert from the Human Rights Institution, explained to www.gazeta.ru that new religious structures not affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church must be registered as municipal organizations.
“During their first 10 years of operation, they will not have the right to open educational institutions, Sunday schools, invite foreign citizens, hold religious ceremonies in hospitals, prisons, orphanages, publish and distribute religious literature or organize some media,” said human rights advocate.
To do all these things, groups will be forced to merge into a centralized structure. Levinson noted that such merging will close the door on every alternative religious movement.
“Spiritual and religious development will be prohibited,” underlined the expert.
Ramil Ahmetgaliev, a legal analyst with the Interregional Human Rights Association (AGORA), agreed with Lev Levinson. He didn’t exclude the idea that this bill was “created with the help of some religious denominations that try to solve their problems in such ways.”
Ahmetgaliev alleged that this legal formulation is advantageous for authorities. “It is more comfortable for them to communicate with religious groups through a centralized unit. This line of command has been transposed on religious organizations,” opined the analyst.
Victoria Uzunova is a correspondent for the Christian Telegraph [http://www.christiantelegraph.com], a unique Christian news service partnering with the largest Christian News Agency in Russian language InVictory News [www.invictory.org/news] which is one of few news gateways of what is happening in Christianity in such former USSR countries as Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Georgia and others.