Moscow, January 28, Interfax - The decision by the human rights group Open Doors to put Russia on the list of 50 countries violating Christians' rights was opportunistic, the Moscow Patriarchate said.
"From my standpoint, Russia's inclusion on this list was dictated not by objective indicators but the political conjuncture which unfortunately today is present across the Western world and reflects primarily on analytics," Metropolitan Hilarion, head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations, aid on the Church and the World program on the television channel Rossiya-24 (VGTRK).
The list does not but should include Ukraine rather than Russia, because it is Ukraine which currently discriminates against believers with a campaign of church seizures, assaults, threats and public defamation, he said.
Russia ended up on the Open Doors list primarily because of its ban on Jehovah's Witnesses whom the Russian Church sees as a sect, not Christians, the metropolitan said.
At the same time he admitted that in predominantly Muslim-populated parts of Russia discrimination against Christians does exist, and the Russian Orthodox Church is trying to solve the problem with the aid of its archbishops on the ground and through the Interreligious Council of Russia.