27 September 2006, 11:16
Ministry slams U.S. criticism of religious freedom
Moscow, September 27, Interfax - The Russian Foreign Ministry believes that the U.S. Department of State's religious freedom report is flawed in its part regarding Russia and that the criticism contained within it is unfounded.
"The Russian section from the annual report by the U.S. Department of State dealing with the observance of religious freedom in the world has been set out in a traditionally negative tone," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said taking questions from Russian media. The transcript of Kamynin's remarks was posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry website on Tuesday.
The Department of State's report "once again recites the standard set of unfounded critical remarks migrating from one report to another, which allege that there are legislative restrictions on freedom of conscience in Russia, speculate on de facto and de jure distinctions between 'traditional' and 'non-traditional' denominations, and emphasize far-fetched suppressions of Muslims, whom their population customarily treats as extremists, terrorists, and so on," Kamynin said.
"We did not expect balanced unbiased judgments from this document," he said.
"Just like in previous years, the U.S. Department of State's report is abundant in inaccurate and often grossly erroneous wordings, it juggles with facts, outdated information, and references to apparently unreliable sources," Kamynin said. "A number of passages are absolutely absurd in their nature: take, for instance, the assertion that the attack on Nalchik in October 2005 was provoked by the mass closure of mosques," he said.
"We have repeatedly explained our position regarding the biased criticism addressed to Russia repeated from year to year in Department of State religious freedom reports to our American partners at different levels. However, it seems that the U.S. diplomatic agency has developed a strong pattern of not taking it into account,' he said.
"We consider it unnecessary to give further explanations and point out that the real condition of religious freedom is more important for Russians than the Department of State's politically-motivated judgments," Kamynin said.