Although Russia is a secular state with an atheist past, the regime favours the Russian Orthodox Church, which can mean problems for other denominations. Non-traditional Protestant churches are accused by the Russian Orthodox Church of stealing their members. Since 2011, several legal restrictions have shown a trend towards greater state control and more isolation from the West, which has affected denominations that are seen as “Western”. Meanwhile, in the Muslim-dominated Chechnya and Dagestan republics, converts to Christianity are considered traitors to their national identity. In July 2016, President Vladimir Putin signed into law what some commentators referred to as an “anti-missionary bill”. The Yarovaya Law was formally introduced as an “anti-terrorism” measure, allowing the government to monitor extremist groups. However, Russia’s Christians have also been affected, particularly missionaries, who need a permit, and “house churches”, which are now illegal, as religious activity is only allowed inside registered buildings. Maximum fines are $780 for individuals or $15,000 for organisations. In August 2016 American missionary Don Ossewaarde was fined $640 for holding a church service in his home. He took his case to Russia’s Supreme Court and then, in March 2017, to the European Court for Human Rights. (Photo: Fred Inklaar via Flickr; CC 2.0)

Sort By date
Filter by Tag
Category

Russia outlaws Jehovah’s Witnesses as ‘extremist group’

The administrative centre of the Jehovah's Witnesses based in the town of Solnechnoye in the federal city of St Petersburg, Russia. The Supreme Court has ordered the disbanding of the group. It needs to hand over all its assets and property to the Russian government. (Photo: Getty Images)

Russia’s Supreme Court yesterday (17 July) rejected an appeal by the Jehovah’s Witnesses against a ruling in April which declared it to be “extremist” and has ordered the disbanding of the group on Russian territory. “The justice ministry had argued that the group distributed pamphlets which incited hatred against other […]

Read More

Russia: Church reacts as ‘anti-missionary bill’ becomes law

Russia: Church reacts as ‘anti-missionary bill’ becomes law

On 7 July, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a bill referred to by one Christian organisation as an “anti-missionary bill”. The new law, known more commonly as the “Yarovaya” law (the name of one of its authors), which will come into effect on 20 July, was formally introduced […]

Read More

Russia approves ‘anti-missionary bill’

The upper chamber of the Russian Assembly has approved what is being referred to by one Christian organisation as an “anti-missionary bill”. ‘s Sergey Rakhuba says the the bill “prohibits missionary and evangelistic activity in residential areas of Russia and limits missionaries to acting only on behalf of registered religious […]

Read More