Monday, July 11, 2016

Russian President Signs Anti-Terrorism Law That Restricts Religious Proselytizing

According to reports from USCIRF, Russia Religion News, and Forum18, last week Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a package of anti-terrorism measures that were passed by the Russian State Duma in late June. The measures, part of which place extensive new restrictions on religious missionary activity, take effect on July 20. As explained by USCIRF:
The anti-terrorism measures would, among other provisions, amend the 1997 Russian religion law by redefining "missionary activities" as religious practices that take place outside of state-sanctioned sites. The new law thus would ban preaching, praying, proselytizing, and disseminating religious materials outside of these officially-designated sites, and authorize fines of up to $15,000 for these activities conducted in private residences or distributed through mass print, broadcast or online media.  Foreign missionaries also must prove they were invited by state-registered religious groups and must operate only in regions where their sponsoring organizations are registered; those found in violation face deportation and major fines.
According to Forum18:
Another part of the package of laws sharply increases Criminal Code Article 282.2 punishments for those convicted of allegedly "extremist" activity, who are often Jehovah's Witnesses and Muslims who study the works of theologian Said Nursi. These punishments were last increased in February 2014.
[Thanks to Scott Mange for the lead.]