Moscow, November 22, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church disagrees with the accusations against Russia of "systematic and egregious" violations of religious freedom recently voiced by the United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
"I am a member of the Inter-Faith Council of Russia, and the Orthodox Church, the Muslim communities, the Jewish people, and Buddhists are represented there. And you should ask any member of the Inter-Faith Council of Russia if they are prosecuted and discriminated or if they are pleased. I think every one of them will give quite an unambiguous answer that no religious freedom is infringed upon in Russia, the traditional religious denominations are equal before the law and every traditional religious denomination has opportunities to develop without hindrances," Metropolitan Hilarion, the head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations, said on the Church and the World program on Rossiya 24 TV channel.
At the same time, some sects, which are banned, are active in Russia, including Jehovah's Witnesses, but Russia is not the only country to ban them, he said. This sect is banned not for its religious activities, but for extremism, the metropolitan said.
"If it is considered a violation of religious freedom, we, for our part, do not think so, because all those measures were taken to protect our people, protect them from acts of religious extremism in the first place," he said.