RPTs SUGGESTS APPLYING "FOREIGN AGENT" CONCEPT TO RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS
RIA Novosti, 8 December 2015
The vice-chairman of the synod's Missionary Department and member of the Inter-conciliar Presence of the RPTs, Hegumen Serapion, proposes consideration of the question of introducing the concept of "foreign agent" for religious organizations.
In November 2012, a law required that political non-governmental organizations [NGOs] that are financed from abroad be registered as foreign agents. In June 2013, the Ministry of Justice received the right to designate NGOs as foreign agents at its own discretion. Russian NGOs have frequently expressed disagreement with the law and have appealed against it to, among other places, the European Court for Human Rights.
"If we have now raised the issue of public organizations as 'foreign agents,' perhaps we should consider the question also with respect to religious organizations," Hegumen Serapion said at a round table in the State Duma on the topic "Sects and destructive cults as challenges to the national security of Russia."
The number of NGOs recognized in Russia as foreign agents has reached hundreds.
Hegumen Serapion said that it is necessary that representatives of religious organizations "receive from their leaders spiritual nurture only and not some kinds of political instructions." "I propose that the state should conduct regulation of certain aspects of religious life. This has always been the case and the idea that it is impermissible is a certain liberal myth of the early 1990s, which has demonstrated its ineffectiveness," he emphasized.
Hegumen Serapion noted that legislation develops along with the development of society. "We now see that the events of recent years, and primarily events in Ukraine that led to anti-Russian sanctions and what has happened in the Middle East, are forcing us again to view very many processes. Thus, for example, it is very difficult for us to see purely religious activity in the activity of some religious organizations," he added.
"It is very hard for me to imagine that a religious organization, whose center is located in a country that engages in an explicitly anti-Russian policy, restricts itself to purely religious activity," Hegumen Serapion said. (tr. by PDS, posted 10 December 2015)
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