30 September 2008, 12:33
Orthodox public wants a report on global religious freedom record published in Russia
Moscow, September 30, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox community has urged the Foreign Ministry to monitor the freedom of conscience record globally and publish a report each year the way the U.S. State Department does.
"We urge the Russian Foreign Ministry not to limit itself to criticism of the U.S. State Department, but to produce its own report on the observance of human rights and liberties globally, especially in the post-Soviet space," the Moscow branch of the Union of Orthodox Citizens said in a statement made available to Interfax-Religion.
While assessing the human rights record globally, the U.S. State Department "absolutely does not see" abuses of the freedom of religion in Ukraine, or instances "when the rights of millions of citizens in Ukraine, who oppose the separation of the Ukrainian Church from Russian, are trampled underfoot," the Union said.
"The churches seized by militants of the 'Kiev Patriarchate' are not returned to the Church in defiance of court rulings, while prominent political leaders of the 'orange' camp, who are the organizers of these seizures and mass beatings of priests and parishioners, are not punished and continue pursuing a policy of state interference in the sovereign affairs of the Church. This is a vivid example of bias and double standards," the Orthodox community said.
Moreover, the future report by the Russian foreign ministry should center on "such outstanding violations of the rights of Christians in the United States as the right to publicly express their opinions, as well as the right to religious education at schools. It should also highlight the practice of barring Christian citizens to the public sphere and political Christianity-phobia," the statement says.
"Russia must do this as leader of the Orthodox civilization and as a defender of Christian values in the world," the Union said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry criticized the U.S. State Department's annual report for a "biased approach" to Russia.
The report provided a "standard list of claims" and again baselessly argued that "the Russian Orthodox Church has a privileged status," in Russia, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.