19 September 2006, 15:30
There is freedom of religion in Russia but equality of religions not always respected - US State Department report
Moscow, September 19, Interfax - Freedom of religion is respected generally in Russia, although the authorities have not always ensured the equality of all religions before the law and the separation of church and state provided by the constitution. This conclusion is made in the report on freedom of religion in the world, presented to the US Congress annually.
‘The constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respected this right in practice; however, in some cases authorities imposed restrictions on certain religious groups’, states the document circulated by the US Embassy in Moscow.
‘The constitution also provides for the equality of all religions before the law and the separation of church and state; however, the Government did not always respect this provision’, the report’s section on Russia stresses.
According to the report, in Russia ‘religious matters were not a source of social tension’ but ‘popular attitudes toward traditionally Muslim ethnic groups were negative in many regions. The report also points to ‘manifestations of anti-Semitism as well as hostility toward Roman Catholics and other non-Orthodox Christian denominations’.
In addition, the report points out that ‘the authorities permit Orthodox chapels and priests on army bases and also give Protestant groups access to military facilities, although on a limited basis’.
At the same time, the report stresses that ‘authorities largely ban Islamic services in the military and generally do not give Muslim conscripts time for daily prayers or alternatives to pork-based meals’.
The report on the freedom of religion in the world is prepared annually with the aim to study the conditions for freedom of religion in 197 countries.
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