Russian senator tries to limit recruitment by sects


SOVA Center for News and Analysis, 25 May 2016


Yet more amendments to the law "On freedom of conscience and religious associations", regulating missionary activity, have been introduced into the State Duma.


In late May 2016 it became known that on 21 April 2016, a draft law "On introducing amendments into the federal law 'On freedom of conscience and religious associations' (in the part defining the concept of missionary activity)" was introduced into the State Duma. A member of the Federation Council from Murmansk province, Igor Chernyshenko, acted as author of the draft law.


The amendments proposed by him introduce a definition of missionary activity and provide the possibility of conducting such activity for representatives of registered religious organizations only. In addition, the amendments require religious organizations to inform government agencies "about the arrival of their representatives for conducting missionary activity on the territory of the corresponding constituent element [subject] of the Russian federation."


In an explanatory note, the author of the draft law cites an order of the Russian Constitutional Court of 1999 which says that "the state has the right to provide definite limits so as to prevent the legalization of sects that violate human rights and commit illegal and criminal acts," and also a number of foreign "antisectarian" normative acts. "The multiconfessional way of life that has developed in the Russian federation is historically conditioned. At the same time, new religious movements and sects are continually arising, which often use rather 'aggressive' means of attracting new members into their ranks. And interest in Russia on the part of foreign religious associations has not abated. Their intrusive activity often leads to the violation of the rights and liberties of citizens," the document says.


The author is sure that "the changes proposed by the draft law will not create impediments to the conduct of missionary activity by religious organizations that are registered on the territory of the Russian federation in the established procedure, if such activity does not violate the rights and legal interests of citizens."


We recall that similar amendments were introduced in February 2016 for State Duma consideration by deputies of the Arkhangelsk provincial assembly, but the draft law still has not even come to a first reading. (tr. by PDS, posted 25 May 2016)

Background articles:
Russian parliament preparing restrictions on new religious groups
February 25, 2016
Russian parliament takes aim at new religious movements
February 19, 2016
Controversial bill on evangelism introduced in Russian parliament
February 17, 2016





Article 1


To introduce into the federal law of 26 September 1997 "On freedom of conscience and religious associations" the following change:


To add article 18.1 reading as following:


"Article 18.1 Missionary activity of religious organizations


"1. Missionary activity is activity (including preaching activity) conducted for the purpose of dissemination of faith on the territory of the Russian federation among persons of a different faith and nonbelievers, including by means of distributing religious literature and objects with religious purposes and conducting public worship services and other religious rituals and ceremonies and public events.


"2. Religious organizations registered on the territory of the Russian federation in the established procedure have the right to conduct missionary activity.


"3. Religious organizations inform a federal agency of governmental registration or its territorial body, that exercises monitoring of religious organizations' compliance with the legislation of the Russian federation on freedom of conscience, freedom of religious confessions, and religious associations while conducting federal governmental monitoring of the activity of religious organizations, of the arrival of their representatives for conducting missionary activity on the territory of the corresponding constituent element of the Russian federation in the procedure establishing by order of the federal agency.


"4. While conducting missionary activity the following is not permitted:

violation of public safety and public order;

calls to conduct extremist activity;

encouraging citizens to destroy the family;

infringement of the person, rights, and liberty of citizens;

harm to morality established by law and to the health of citizens, including the use in connection with their religious activity of drugs and psychotropic substances, hypnosis, and the performance of depraved and other illegal acts;

encouragement of suicide or refusal for religious reasons of providing medical aid to persons who are in a condition dangerous for life and health;

encouragement to refuse to obtain compulsory education;

encouragement of citizens to alienate property belonging to them for use by a religious association;

encouragement of citizens to refuse to fulfill civil obligations established by law and to commit other illegal acts;

other actions that are illegal or socially dangerous in accordance with legislation of the Russian federation.


"Article 2


"The present federal law takes effect ten days after the day of its official publication."


President of the Russian federation,

V. Putin 

(tr. by PDS, posted 25 May 2016)


Russian original posted on official website of Russian State Duma


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