2013-05-22 12:18:00

U.S. ambassador invited to State Duma to discuss NGO, religious organizations

Moscow, May 22, Interfax - State Duma Committee on Public and Religious Organizations Chairman Yaroslav Nilov (Liberal Democratic Party) has invited U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul to meet on the parliament premises and discuss the development of civil society in both countries.

"I gladly invite Mr. McFaul to visit our committee. I propose to discuss operations of religious and non-profit organizations in Russia. Mr. Ambassador may receive first-hand information and discuss his concerns," Nilov's press service quoted the invitation.

"I am confident this conversation will be interesting and productive for both sides. We will exchange opinions and talk about the development of civil society in our nations," the deputy said.

The 2012 International Religious Freedom Report of the U.S. Department of State was published on Tuesday. It criticized Russia for discrimination of "religious minorities."

"The government generally respected religious freedom, but imposed restrictions that affected members of minority religious groups. These included the use of extremism charges to ban religious materials and restrict groups' right to assemble, detentions, raids, denial of official registration with the Ministry of Justice, denial of official building registration, and denial of visas to religious workers," the committee press service quoted the report.

Nilov said the committee members were very surprised with media information on the report.

"Our committee deals with such matters but it has received no inquiries from representatives of the U.S. Embassy in Russia. Meanwhile, we possess unique analytical information, opinions of a broad range of experts and up-to-date statistics data. We constantly process reports from citizens on various incidents related to violations of the freedom of conscience and religion, including insults to religious feelings," he said.

The committee holds roundtables where representatives of all religions. "Our doors are open to anyone, and we never refuse to discuss and solve problems," Nilov said.

Therefore, he sent a letter to U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul to invite him to meet at the State Duma and to discuss topical problems of Russian religious life.