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

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

Pope and Patriarch ‘feared nuclear war could erupt over Syria’

Flag of Syria is waving as sign of victory over the destroyed heavily damaged city of Aleppo. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
The historic meeting between the heads of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches took place not only out of shared concern for Middle Eastern Christians, but to try to avert confrontation between nuclear powers in Syria, according to the Russian Orthodox Patriarch. When Patriarch Kirill met Pope Francis in 2016 it . . . 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

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