14 November 2005, 13:27
Berel Lazar: The USA view on the freedom of conscience in Russia is outdated
Moscow, November 11, Interfax - The authors of the U.S. Department of State International Religious Report consider the situation with the freedom of conscience in Russia from a position of times past, Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar believes.
‘I have become thoroughly acquainted with this report and I have to say that, although its conclusions raise serious doubts for me, I believe the analytic part of this document deserves a very positive mark’, Lazar told Interfax.
According to him, the authors of the report realized the situation with providing the freedom of religion in Russia was improving and ‘this is clearly written in regards to all traditional religions - Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism - as well as regarding an array of other religious groups and communities’.
The documents states that legal regulations permitting the ban on religious organizations ‘is being applied extremely rarely, even with respect to those churches and sects that experience problems with local authorities’. The report also underlines positive changes regarding the restitution of property to religious communities in Russia.
’Nevertheless, I am surprised with the conclusions deducted from this analysis’, the rabbi said.
In this connection he asks a question: ‘If the dynamics are so positive and if, in a period of 15 years, Russia has grown from a dictatorship of aggressive atheism to become a state that realizes the need to restore religious spirituality and provide thousands of religious communities with religious freedom - then it is hard to understand why, in its analysis, U.S. Department of State depicts our country as ‘unfavorable’.
‘I believe this conclusion is made due to some kind of inertia in thinking, since, while recognizing the many positive changes, we are considered from a position of times past’, the interviewee thinks.
See the full text of interview in Exclusive.