Russia: ‘Extremist’ identified after five women killed in Dagestan church attack

Dagestan mosque
Authorities in one of the least stable parts of Russia have identified the suspected gunman who killed five women at a church yesterday (18 February) before being shot dead by security forces. The mayoral office in Kizlyar, in the restive and ethnically diverse region of Dagestan, named the assailant as . . . 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

Russia pledges to safeguard future of Christians in Middle East

A mosaic of Jesus pictured as an icon in a church in Homs, was vandalised by Islamic fundamentalists, October 2017. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
Russia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Sergey Lavrov, says the peaceful co-existence of different religious groups in the Middle East, and particularly safeguarding the future of Christians, is one of Russia’s policy goals for the region. He was speaking at the third Mediterranean Dialogues summit in Rome on 1 and 2 December, . . . Read More

Is Putin’s ‘education to patriotism’ bill another endorsement of Russian Orthodox Church?

Is Putin’s ‘education to patriotism’ bill another endorsement of Russian Orthodox Church?
A new law on “education to patriotism” set to be introduced in Russia on New Year’s Day is a further sign of Russia distancing itself from the West, but is not necessarily a sign of President Vladimir Putin favouring one Church over another, according to an analyst for the Christian . . . Read More

Russian Patriarch and UK archbishop call for greater support for persecuted Christians

Russian Patriarch and UK archbishop call for greater support for persecuted Christians
The Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Archbishop of Canterbury have called for more aid to reach Middle Eastern refugees, especially Christians, and for robust safeguards against extremist ideology, which they say has spread “like an epidemic”. Patriarch Kirill and Archbishop Justin Welby released a joint statement thanking . . . Read More

Cautious welcome to Russia’s praise of Protestantism

Cautious welcome to Russia’s praise of Protestantism
A senior official in the Putin administration has acknowledged the “value” Protestants bring to Russian society, reports Radio Free Europe. Marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, First Deputy Chief Sergei Kiriyenko said: “The followers of the Reformation idea appeared in our country immediately after it started. Those people contributed . . . Read More

Uzbekistan ‘violates religious freedom through coercion and sexual violence’

Russian Orthodox St. Alexey Cathedral in Samarkand. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
The Uzbek regime continues to hold its citizens, including Christians, “in constant fear”, subjecting them to surveillance, threats, raids, fines and short-term imprisonments, according to regional news agency Forum 18’s analysis of religious freedom in Uzbekistan. In a comprehensive overview, Forum 18 highlights a number of incidents, including two in . . . Read More

Turkmenistan President’s reelection ‘guaranteed’

Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov secured a third term in office this week by winning a landslide election victory. As RFE/RL reports, “Berdymukhammedov maintains strict control over all aspects of society and was all but guaranteed to defeat the other eight candidates, who were widely seen as window dressing for the . . . Read More