Checking the Faith

Moscow, Russia - The draft amendments to the Act on Freedom of Worship and Religious Associations sanction the Federal Registration Service to again inspect religious organizations, which have been registered before and are operating in Russia. The results of the checks will suffice to close the organizations blaming “the unhealthy trading or extremism propaganda” on them.

The authority of the Expert Council for Religious Theory that operates at the Federal Registration Service will considerably widen once the amendments take effect. Pursuant to the laws of Russia, any religious association should have worked in the country at least for fifteen years before it gets registration. And exactly these organizations that are just en route to be registered are checked by the Council now.

Masterminds of the amendments suggest probing into the religious organizations, which have been duly registered already. Once any illegal or extremist actions are spotted, the Federal Registration Service may go to law seeking the ban on activities of inspected organizations.

If passed, the amendments will actually vest the Federal Registration Service with authority more common to enforcement bodies of Russia. It is Russia’s Interior Ministry and Prosecutor General’s Office that deal with investigating extremism activities in the country now.