Are religion laws changing in Russia?

By June 13, 2005

Russia (MNN/Forum 18) — It’s uncertain how far this will go, but it appears there’s interest in Russia in amending the country’s 1997 religion law. According to Forum 18, parliament’s religion committee is considering four draft amendments.

The first amendment would further define one of the existing legal characteristics of a religious association – dissemination of faith – as “missionary activity.”

The second would allow expert religious analysis by the state not only when considering registration applications unsupported by a centralized religious organization, but also “to confirm the religious character of an organization.”

Under the third proposed amendment, religious activity conducted outside specially designated places of worship could take place, but only after written notification and approval to local state authorities no more than seven days in advance.

The fourth proposed amendment would allow only centralized religious organizations to invite foreign citizens to work within their structures.

But there is some good news to this. Religious rights lawyer Anatoli Pchelintsev remains skeptical that these proposed amendments stand a chance of being adopted since the religious situation is stable and few politicians see a need for it.

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