New Religious Control Law Rejected

(Forum 18) A harsh draft new religion law in the unrecognized Transdniester republic has been rejected, but the senior religious

affairs official has insisted to Forum 18 News Service that it will be adopted, indicating that it has the support of the breakaway

republic’s president, Igor Smirnov. The draft gave the authorities draconian “control powers in relation to the activity of religious

organizations” and attracted criticism from the Orthodox Church, Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, and Jehovah’s Witnesses,

amongst others. Orthodox Bishop Iustinian likened the proposed powers to those of Soviet times, and said that such state religious

affairs offices were an anachronism. Despite this initial rejection of the draft law, plans remain to amend the Criminal Code to increase

punishments for “illegal activity of sects”, including youth and adult work, increasing fines 15 times and imprisoning offenders for up

to a year.

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