Another Russian state burdens religious evangelism


Kavkazskii Uzel, 24 December 2015


Deputies of the duma of Stavropol territory confirmed a draft law that requires citizens who are conducting missionary activity to be registered and to present to authorities a list of literature being used.


The document was confirmed today on final reading. As the head of the parliamentary Committee for Security, Inter-parliamentary Communication, Veterans' Organizations, and Cossackdom, Petr Marchenko, noted, the law is needed for establishing the procedure for conducting missionary activity in the region. He said that all missionaries and preachers will be required to notify state agencies about their activity and be registered, Interfax-Yug reports.


"Those who continue to work without appropriate documents will be punished administratively," Marchenko noted.


The law defines a list of documents that missionaries need to present. They must indicate "affiliation with a religious association and the schedule of their stay in the territory, with indication of their purpose, nature, and period of time." Preachers also will be required to verify a list of literature and other materials which they use in their work.


"The draft law will permit protecting citizens from the negative influence of religious views and convictions that are alien to them, including those of an extremist bent. Its aim is to prevent violations of the law associated with the activity of missionary organizations within the territory and to protect the national identity and traditional spiritual culture of Russia," one parliamentarian emphasized, who added that the document does not violate the freedom of religious confession guaranteed by the Russian constitution.


To date, similar laws have also been in effect in several Russian regions, the publication SOVA notes.


Kavkazskii Uzel has written earlier about a number of criminal cases in various regions of the south of Russia with regard to adherents of the international organization of Jehovah's Witnesses. Thus, in Taganrog a group of Jehovah's Witnesses was accused that after a ban in September 2009 on the activity of their local congregation, it continued to conduct prayer services and the study of literature that had been ruled extremist. On 30 November the Taganrog city court found all 16 defendants in this case guilty. Four persons received suspended sentences and the remaining 12 were fined from 20,000 to 70,000 rubles, from which they were released because of the statute of limitations.


On 16 December 2014 it was reported that the prosecutor's office of Krasnodar territory had submitted to a court a lawsuit for the liquidation of the Aginsk organization of Jehovah's Witnesses in Krasnodar territory. Believers were accused of distributing the publications "Humanity in search of God," "What does the Bible really teach?" and "The Bible: God's Word or Man's?" that had been entered into the federal list of extremist materials. On 4 March the Krasnodar territorial court granted the lawsuit of the prosecutor's office. The defense for the organization declared its intention to challenge this decision of the court, although on 5 August the Russian Supreme Court confirmed the decision for the liquidation of the Jehovah's Witnesses organization in Abinsk. (tr. by PDS, posted 6 January 2016)

Related article:
Jehovah's Witnesses are special target of restrictive legislation
December 29, 2015
Jehovah's Witnesses do not fit into neo-stalinist Russia
December 4, 2015
Taganrog court finally delivers verdict against Jehovah's Witnesses
November 30, 2015

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