2017-08-16 10:11:00

State Duma dubs U.S. Dept of State's report on oppression of religious minorities in Russia as unprofessional

Moscow, August 16, Interfax - The International Religious Freedom Report posted by the U.S. Department of State, which claims ongoing oppression of religious minorities in Russia, is superficial and unprofessional, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on the Development of Civil Society and Religious and Civil Associations Sergey Gavrilov said.

"I believe that the Department of State's commentary on the situation in Russia made in this report is highly superficial and tendentious. It is explicable why it is agenda driven, but low professionalism is surprising. Obviously, unprofessional employees of the Department of State are entrusted with doing the monitoring and making the analysis," Gavrilov told Interfax.

"Russian laws have grown mature compared to, say, the 1990s," he said.

The new laws on missionaries help solve problems created "by the work of members of one confession on the historical territory of another," Gavrilov said. The enforcement of those laws has two tasks, "namely, to stop pseudo-religious extremism and attempts at setting followers of different religious confessions against one another," he said.

"The religious facade sometimes conceals understandable proprietary interests or the activity of foreign security services and attempts to learn state secrets," Gavrilov said.

So, "the bans imposed lately on the activity of certain organizations are rooted in extremism and totalitarian activity of pseudo-religious organizations and aim to protect human rights," he said.

"I personally believe that our attention to the organizations which call themselves religious and are governed and financed from abroad should be even closer," he said.

The adjustments made to Russian laws regulating the activity of religious organizations "in the past three years are yet insufficient," Gavrilov said.

"The activity aimed to incite religious discord and breach believers' rights is often initiated by secular organizations and citizens, including renowned lawyers," he said. "Followers of all confessions may view such activity as a breach of their religious rights and develop mistrust in the state which, for instance, finances the production of scandalous films," Gavrilov said.

"Closer attention should be paid not only to pseudo-religious organizations but also to a number of secular organizations which are definitely trying to incite inter-ethnic discord and achieve social destabilization in our country, which is particularly important amid the international sanctions," he said.

The U.S. Department of State released on Tuesday the annual International Religious Freedom Report, which said that Russia continued to oppress religious minorities in 2016.