Russian State Duma adopts amendments to religion law



A bill "On introducing changes into the federal law 'On freedom of conscience and religious associations' and various legislative acts of the Russian federation" was adopted in April of this year by the Russian parliament and awaits the signature of the Russian president, a correspondent reports. One of the provisions of the law prescribes the effective reregistration of all religious organizations of the country in an extremely short period of time—by 1 January 2016.


The law sets out in the new version of point 1 of article 8 of the existing law of the RF on freedom of conscience: "A religious organization is considered to be a voluntary association of citizens of the Russian federation and other persons who are continuously and legally resident on the territory of the Russian federation, that is constituted for the purposes of joint confession and dissemination of faith and registered by a procedure established by law in the capacity of a legal entity [juridical person]. Issues of the participation by founders and other legal or individual persons in the activity of religious organizations are determined by the charter and/or internal regulation of religious organizations. The founder (founders) of a religious organizations may fulfill the function of a body of the religious organization or members of a collegial body of the religious organization in accordance with a procedure established by the charter and internal regulations of the religious organization."


In order to exempt religious organizations from requirements of civil and labor legislation, the authors of the law introduced into it another two new provisions: "The procedure for forming bodies of a religious organization and their competence, the procedure for adopting decisions by these bodies, and the relationship between a religious organization and persons who are members of its bodies are determined by the charter and internal regulations of the religious organization;" and "With regard to religious organizations, the provisions of point 5, article 50 and article 531 of the Civil Code of the Russian federation do not apply."


Article 131 is introduced into the Civil Code of RF: "Reorganization of a religious organization," according to which "a religious organizations may not be transformed into a legal entity of a different legal organizational form."


Also, there appears in the Civil Code of RF a provision exempting religious organizations from the purview of a whole series of rules of the code: "Provisions of the present code apply to religious organizations if something different has not been established by the law on freedom of conscience and religious associations and by other laws."


The law provides for introducing relevant changes into existing charters of religious organizations, after which they have the right "to submit an application for injecting information about themselves into the Uniform State Register of Legal Entities within the period before 1 January 2016."


The following provision is inserted into the Russian federal law "On noncommercial organizations": "Founders and participants (members) of public and religious organizations (associations) do not have the right to the ownership of property transferred by them to the organization, including members' fees. Founders and participants (members) of public and religious organizations (associations) are not responsible for the obligations of said organizations (associations) and said organizations (associations) are not responsible for the obligations of their founders and participants (members)." (tr. by PDS, posted 30 April 2015)

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