Russia readies implementation of new law affecting religion


RIANovosti, 23 June 2021


Clergy who have received education abroad will be able to be recertified in Russia both in existing religious educational institutions and in special courses in secular educational institutions; the list of them may be drawn up by September, reported the chairman of the State Duma Committee on Development of Civil Society and Affairs of Public and Religious Associations, Sergei Gavrilov, at a press confere3nce in the "Russia Today" International News Agency.


"First of all, religious organizations may apply to existing religious educational institutions. There are many of them, in Orthodoxy, Islam, and Judaism, and a number of other religions. For example, the Seventh-Day Adventists have an excellent seminary in Zaokskoe, which recently had a graduation. If this is insufficient, then I hope that by September the government will produce a list of secular educational institutions where theology departments will conduct courses for foreign preachers, which will have not a clerical but an educational character," he stated.


The law on recertification in Russia of clergy who received religious education abroad was signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on 5 April. The initiative was introduced into the State Duma in July of last year. According to the law, persons who are suspected of financing terrorism will not be able to lead religious groups and participate in their activity.


Also clarified is the procedure for recertification of clergy who received their education abroad. Russian clergy who received foreign religious education will be exempted from certification if they are already performing religious activity in Russia. In addition, Russians who have just received or plan to receive religious education abroad, but still have not begun to minister in Russia, will have to receive additional professional education in Russian religious educational organizations after completing their studies.


Gavrilov noted that the law will not apply to clergy who already are performing ministry in Russia.


"We have many muftis and imams who received education in Central Asia and Christian clergy, mostly Orthodox, who received education abroad. This is a matter of the action of the law in the future, and therefore we have made a long transitional period," the deputy said, adding that the transition period will extend for half a year, beginning in December.


"If there are citizens who arrive for work, they will be asked about their knowledge of Russian language, history, and legislation, especially for persons who want to be directors of souls and to call believers to salvation. We must expect knowledge of the basics of legislation, the rights and duties of the state, and the duties, responsibility, and rights of religious associations. These are the foundations of our legislation, the law on freedom of conscience and so forth. I hope that there will be the requisite knowledge for teaching the foundations of culture and the history of our country, which must be respected and valued, and I think that this will be accepted with understanding by all who come to our country," Gavrilov concluded. (tr. by PDS, posted 24 June 2021)

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