27 October 2009, 13:32
Russian govt promotes religious freedom in Russia - U.S. Department of State
Washington, October 27, Interfax - The U.S. Department of State has given high marks to the role of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia in ensuring religious freedom in Russia.
"Some prominent societal leaders, including Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, took positive steps to promote religious freedom," the U.S. Department of State said in its report on the situation with freedom of conscience in the world in 2009, which was released on Monday.
The part of the report dealing with Russia states that the Russian Constitution "provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respected this right in practice; however, in some cases authorities imposed restrictions on certain groups."
The report states that the majority of religious groups are equal in Russia and the Russian government policy generally contributes to ensuring freedom of religious for the majority of Russia's population.
However, "some federal agencies, such as the Department of Non-Profit Organizations within the Ministry of Justice, and many local authorities continued to restrict the rights of a few religious minorities." The report states that there are "indications that the security services, including the Federal Security Service (FSB), treated the leadership of some Islamic and non-traditional groups, including Jehovah's Witnesses, as security threats."
The introductory part of the report states that "there were reports of societal abuses and discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice. Religious matters were not a source of social tension or problems for the large majority of citizens."
"Conservative activists claiming ties to the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) occasionally disseminated negative publications and held protest meetings against religious groups considered nontraditional, including alternative Orthodox congregations. Some ROC clergy publicly stated their opposition to any expansion of the presence of non-Orthodox Christian denominations," the report says.