US agency accuses Russia of abusing anti-extremism laws

US agency accuses Russia of abusing anti-extremism laws
Russia’s anti-extremism laws are being used to crack down on peaceful religious minorities such as Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Hare Krishnas, the top US religious-freedom watchdog says. A report commissioned by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) found that “vague and problematic definitions of ‘extremism’ in Russian law . . . Read More

Belarus archbishop: ‘Give Catholic Church its rights’

Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Minsk-Mohilev © Aid to the Church in Need
A Catholic archbishop in Belarus has asked the government to make it easier for foreign priests to work in the country and to return ownership of church buildings to the Catholic Church. Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, whose diocese encompasses the capital, Minsk, told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need . . . Read More

Kazakhstan proposes further restrictions on religion

Presidential Palace / "White House", Astana
Kazakhstan has drafted amendments to its religion laws that will further tighten restrictions on religious freedoms, reports regional news agency Forum 18. The changes focus on the religious freedom of children and parents and could reach parliament for ratification as early as December. The latest October draft states that one . . . Read More

Turkmenistan repressing religious freedom through ‘fines, raids and torture’

Hero statues at Ashgabat Independence Monument. City of Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
Fines, raids and police brutality are some of the trademarks of Turkmenistan’s repeated violations of religious freedom, according to the latest report by regional news agency Forum 18. Protestant Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Muslims have all been repeatedly repressed, according to the report, despite the UN reiterating its concerns. “Turkmen . . . Read More

Growing list of Christians charged under Russia’s ‘anti-missionary law’

Growing list of Christians charged under Russia’s ‘anti-missionary law’
A year on from Russia introducing its “anti-missionary bill” in July 2016, more than 180 cases have been brought before court, with prosecutions steadily increasing throughout the 12-month period. The list of cases against 129 individuals and 52 religious communities, published by regional news agency Forum 18, includes missionary activity . . . Read More

Crimea also affected in first year of Russia’s ‘anti-missionary law’

A cross seen over the construction site of a bridge across the Strait of Kerch linking Crimea to mainland Russia. (Photo by Vladimir Smirnov via Getty Images)
Since Russia’s President Vladimir Putin signed into law what some commentators referred to as an “anti-missionary bill” in July last year, individuals and groups have been targeted because of their religious affiliation in both Russia and the annexed Crimea. After the annexation in March 2014, religious organisations in Crimea had . . . Read More

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

Kazakhstan: closure of Jehovah’s Witnesses operation is sign of creeping religious intolerance

Kazakhstan: closure of Jehovah’s Witnesses operation is sign of creeping religious intolerance
Kazakhstan’s decision to suspend operations at the headquarters of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is a symptom of the country’s growing intolerance towards religious rights, and particularly Christianity, writes Casey Michel in The Diplomat. Jehovah’s Witnesses, who had operated in Kazakhstan for 25 years with 18,000 followers, reacted by expressing concern that . . . Read More