"PUBLIC" DISSEMINATION OF INFORMATION ABOUT ACTIVITY OF A RELIGIOUS ASSOCIATION
Alive Faith Media, 11 August 2016
Slavic Legal Center attorney Konstantin Andreev continues to share recommendations for believers and religious organizations in connection with the adoption of the "Yarovaya Law."
According to the logic of the "Yarovaya Law," during missionary activity there occurs PUBLIC DISSEMINATION of information about the beliefs of a religious association.
What is subsumed under the concept of publicity [Rus.—publichnost]?
Is a statement in a kitchen in the presence of an acquaintance already a public statement, or is it necessary that there be two, three, and so forth? Or is it necessary to go out into the stairwell or onto the street?
"Publicum" translates from the Latin as "intended for everybody." In modern Russian, one of the meanings of the noun "publika" is "society [obshchestvo]," and a synonym of the adjective "publichnyi" is "social [obshchestvennyi]."
Where and in what sense is the concept of "public" [publichnyi] used in the law?
In the Civil Code of the Russian federation, this concept develops in the sense of openness and accessibility for everybody:
--public accounting of a society (publication by a society of information about the results of the conduct of its affairs);
--public offering (suggestion to conclude an agreement on conditions indicated in the offer with anybody who responds);
--pubic performance, public display (chapter 70 of the Civil Code of the RF);
--such forms of civil and legal obligations as a public promise of reward (ch. 56, Civil Code) and public competition (ch. 57, Civil Code), where "publicity" [publichnost] is one of the defining element of the obligation, reflecting simultaneously announcement to all (openness) and an obligation to fulfill the stated obligation to any person who satisfies the conditions (general accessibility).
Article 426 of the Civil Code of the RF develops the concept of a "public contract," which is defined as a contract concluded by a commercial organization and establishing its obligations for sale of goods, for performance of work or provision of services, which such an organization, by virtue of the nature of its activity, should provide to everybody who turns to it.
Publicity in a literal sense is mentioned in article 1193 of the Civil Code of the RF, "Exception for public order": a norm of foreign law that is applicable in accordance with rules of this section but in exceptional cases is not applied when the consequences of its application would clearly be contrary to principles of legal order (public order) of the Russian federation. In this case, when necessary, the corresponding norm of Russian law is applied.
But point 2 of article 128.1 of the Criminal Code of the RF reveals libel as the dissemination of deliberately false information, discrediting the honor and dignity of another person or undermining his reputation, contained in a public statement, public performance of a production, or mass media. The crime has a formal composition and is considered accomplished at the moment of the communication of such information to even one person.
Missionary activity, for the purposes of this federal law, is defined as activity of a religious association, conducted publicly, with the aid of mass media, the Internet telecommunications network, or any other legal means.
As is clear from the wording, mass media and the Internet telecommunications network are related parts of the sentence and they do not develop the concept of publicity; that is, missionary activity can be conducted both through mass media and through the Internet, which is indicated by the conclusion of the sentence (and/or) ". . . or any other legal means."
Thus, the lack of clarity in the wording may permit interpretation of publicity in the logic of article 128.1 of the Criminal Code of the RF.
However, it should not be forgotten that even in the presence of indicators of "publicity," the absence of other elements permits one to effectively challenge the existence of missionary activity in the activities. (tr. by PDS, posted 12 August 2016)
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