Russian parliament questions how to deal with Jehovah's Witnesses


Interfax-Religiia, 8 December 2015


The head of the Duma's Committee on Affairs of Public Associations and Religious Organizations, Yaroslav Nilov, stated that it is difficult to introduce a legal definition of "sect" today. "As of today, the legal concept of a sect, I suggest, will be extremely difficult to adopt because it could violate the constitution," Ya. Nilov told journalists on Tuesday.


He thinks that the formulation "sect," in principle, should lead to the prohibition of the activity of religious organizations, while the constitution and its operative norm permit all registered religious organizations to operate in the Russian federation.


Ya. Nilov said, "popularly, so-called sects have a non-judicial character; it is a commonplace definition," while lawmakers and lawyers use the term "new religious formations."


At the same time he noted that some regions of the RF have found their own ways to combat sects: in Belgorod, for example, a law on missionary activity was adopted and in Arkhangelsk province a bill also was approved on first reading which requires those religious organizations that operate in that province to get a kind of license for their activity.


"On one hand, the motive is clear, but on the other hand, such an approach can be viewed as a kind of violation of rights," Ya. Nilov thinks.


At the same time the deputy noted that recently there has been an increase in the activity of "so-called new religious formations, that is the Jehovah's Witnesses as well as the Church of Scientology, with respect to which there are court decisions that rule it to be a nonreligious organization."


"The more acute the international situation becomes, probably the more actively various religious minorities will function, who will adopt their own various aims but the most important thing is that they will adopt various goals," the head of the committee thinks. (tr. by PDS, posted 10 December 2015)

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