Kazakhstan: 69 punished for practising faith in first half of 2018

Inside an Orthodox Church in Almaty
Courts in Kazakhstan prosecuted at least 69 individuals, religious communities or organisations for religious activities in the first half of this year, according to Oslo-based news service Forum 18. Punishments included fines of up to four months’ average salary (US$1,400) and three-month bans on activities such as distributing religious literature or . . . Read More

A ‘dire time for human rights in Russia’ as World Cup begins

The 2018 FIFA World Cup started today with a kick-off at the Luzhniki stadium in the capital Moscow. (Photo: Sandra Montanez - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
“This is a very dire time for human rights in Russia,” according to the Russia programme director for Human Rights Watch, Tanya Lokshina, speaking ahead of the start of the 2018 Football World Cup, which kicked off in Moscow earlier today. Since Vladimir Putin became Russia’s president again in 2012 . . . Read More

Uzbek pastor might face criminal charges after police repeat raids on his home

Members of Pastor Kim's church were, like these Christians elsewhere in Uzbekistan, having a meal together to celebrate Easter when the first police raid took place. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
An Uzbek Baptist pastor, who is already serving at home a two-year sentence for having religious books, might now be facing criminal charges. Police raided Pastor Stanislav Kim’s flat in Urgench, north-western Khorezm Region, twice last month, on Easter Sunday (8 April) and a week later (15 April), while the . . . Read More

Religious freedom is a prerequisite for democracy – US commission

China's catholic dioceses are to respond to the government led campaign of the 'sinicization of religion' with a plan of action.  (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
A wealth of research shows that a society’s level of religious freedom is linked to its levels of critical social indicators, such as prosperity, stability and peace, the chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom told British parliamentarians. Dr. Daniel Mark, chairman of USCIRF, an independent, bipartisan federal . . . Read More

Russia’s religious communities face ‘unclear’ requirements

Russia’s religious communities face ‘unclear’ requirements
Legal requirements applied to the expression of freedom of religion in Russia impose a significant burden on religious communities not recognised by the state – in the shape of fines, legal costs and bureaucracy – reports regional news agency Forum 18. The requirements are “unclear” and applied “inconsistently”, Forum 18 . . . Read More

Rights group tells Russia to ‘properly respect’ religious freedom

Rights group tells Russia to ‘properly respect’ religious freedom
Religious freedom advocate ADF International is today (7 March) filing a third-party brief with the European Court of Human Rights, arguing “for the right to religious freedom to be properly respected in Russia”. (Such a brief is a statement by a third party, usually an NGO or academic, which has . . . Read More

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

Kazakhstan Baptist convicted for refusing to pay state ‘expert’ to analyse his Christian books

Handing out Christian literature in Kazakhstan comes at a price. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
A court in northern Kazakhstan has given a Baptist man a one-year suspended prison sentence for refusing to pay fines for the state to give its “expert analysis” of Christian books he had with him at the time of his arrest. Yuri Bekker had also failed to pay outstanding fines . . . 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