State Duma asked to curtail freedom of religious groups


SOVA Center for News and Analysis, 6 July 2016


A bill was introduced into the State Duma to require registration of religious groups and to restrict the size of a religious group to 10 members.


On 4 July, a draft law was introduced into the Russian State Duma that proposes more changes in the law "On freedom of conscience and religious associations."


The authors of the draft law, which was introduced into the Duma by the National Assembly of the republic of Ingushetia, proposes to change article 7 ("Religious group") by requiring religious groups to be registered by an obligatory procedure and to provide annual notification of registration and restricting the size of a religious group to 10 members.


The explanatory note to the draft law explains that in this way the National Assembly of Ingushetia proposes to combat unregistered Muslim groups, which, as the text says, number more than 70 on the territory of the republic. They "are not members of any registered religious association and they function in the capacity of individual religious groups, effectively conducting unregulated propaganda and educational activity in mosques, which as a consequence creates the preconditions for inflaming various conflicts and open opposition to the government."


However if the proposed draft law were to be adopted, it will substantially curtail the freedom of believers in Russia and effectively return Russian legislation in the area of religion to the standards of soviet times.


On 5 July the draft law was sent to the State Duma's Committee on Affairs of Public Associations and Religious Organizations. (tr. by PDS, posted 7 July 2016)



VolgaDaily, 4 July 2016


Deputies of the National Assembly of Ingushetia suggested introduction of required registration of religious groups. Such an innovation will be used if the State Duma confirms a corresponding legislative draft of the National Assembly of the republic of Ingushetia. At the present time such religious groups do not come under the action of law, the authors of the initiative note.


The aforementioned houses of worships are not members of a single registered religious association (organization) and they operate in the capacity of individual religious groups that do not fall under the action of federal law.


The people's deputies say that at the present time religious organizations in the Russian federation must be registered, but various religious groups do not go through registration, although they conduct their activity on the territory of the country. According to preliminary statistics, there are no fewer than 70 unregistered religious groups in Ingushetia. Several of them have radical convictions that then "can instantly turn into armed opposition against the governmental apparatus." Members of these groupings inflame ethnic and religious hostility.


The authors think that the changes proposed by the draft law will permit strengthening of control over the activity of religious groups and create legal conditions for minimizing the aforementioned negative causes while not requiring additional expenditures out of the federal budget. (tr. by PDS, posted 7 July 2016)



by Alena Larina

Rossiskaya Gazeta, 4 July 2016


Deputies of the National Assembly of Ingushetia have proposed introducing into Russia legal registration of religious groups, which for now they do not undergo. The draft law was introduced for consideration into the Russian State Duma.


The idea belongs to the republic's antiterrorism commission, and it is fully supported in governmental bodies of the state.


According to existing Russian legislation, a religious group, in contrast to a religious organization, is required to submit only notification to a territorial agency of the Ministry of Justice, which can be renewed every three years.


The authors of the draft law think that this leads to a situation that such public leaders are practically uncontrolled. Practice shows that there are people who exploit the legal loophole for their own self-serving goals. It turns out that this plays into the hand of extremists.


Thus, according to information of the antiterrorism commission, 70 religious groups already are operating in Ingushetia. The majority of them consist of two or three persons and they almost all are functioning in mosques.


"They conduct educational work among believers and especially youth, they interpret the Quran, but sometimes this interpretation is far from traditional and it has an extremist tendency, and thus it produces the conversion of young people into militants," the administration of the head of the region explained.


"There is a similar situation in neighboring republics," RG's source emphasized.


To call such religious leaders to account or somehow to influence them is difficult, the law enforcement agencies of the republic think. After all, in the long run the organization is not registered anywhere nor under the control of the state. Hence—impunity.


If religious groups were to be legally equal to religious organizations, there would be levers for impacting them, the Ingush lawmakers are convinced.


If their initiative receives approval, the federal law on freedom of conscience and religious associations will be changed. (tr. by PDS, posted 7 July 2016)

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