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ICC NOTE: USCIRF’s report on Russia : Rising nationalism and political authoritarianism is taking root and affecting Christians in Russia . The relatively recent law in 1997 requires religious groups to pass unrealistically high requirements in order to remain registered.

Russia ‘s ‘Political Authoritarianism’ Jeopardizes Religious Freedom, Says Group

Jul. 13, 2006

For the full article go to the Christian Post

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) reported that political authoritarianism is threatening religious freedom and other rights of Russia ’s religious minorities.

During a briefing on religious freedom and human rights in Russia on Tuesday, USCIRF members reported their findings that rising nationalism, official response to security concerns involving Muslim communities, and political authoritarianism are contributing factors to the threat against religious freedom and other rights of Russia ’s religious minorities.

“Many religious leaders and experts [have reported that] minority religious groups continue to face persecution on activities legal on local levels,” said Michael Cromartie, USCIRF vice chair on Tuesday. Among the affected groups listed were Orthodox, Evangelical Protestant, and Pentecost Christians.

Religious communities are facing greater difficulties in registering as a religious organization under Article 8 of the 1997 Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations. Under this law, religious groups have to pass “unacceptable” high requirements, including that of a minimum operational history of 15 years within Russia .

A USCIRF delegation traveled to Russia on June 17-28, visiting Moscow , St. Petersburg , and Kazan . The Commission met with senior Russian government, regional and local officials and legislator, representatives from most of Russia ’s religious traditions as well as human rights organizations, legal advocates, and academic experts.

According to a statement issued by the Congressional Human Rights Caucus (CHRC), Russia Working Group (RWG) on Wednesday, Russia has been moving away from democracy under the leadership of President Putin, who has increased pressure on opposition political parties, strengthened state control over the media, and pursued politically-driven prosecutions of those voicing criticism of the government.