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Institute Calls on President Obama to Raise Russia’s Deteriorating Religious Freedoms during Moscow Visit
by Joseph Grieboski Thursday, July 02, 2009
Washington, DC – The Institute on Religion and Public Policy today called on President Barack Obama to “discuss critical issues of religious liberty in your meetings with President Medvedev.”
In a letter to President Obama before his departure for Moscow, Institute President Joseph K. Grieboski highlighted that “the state of religious freedom in Russia is highly problematic, and recent years have seen a shift toward increasingly repressive and discriminatory religion policies in Russia. Of particular concern are Russian policies which allow for the criminalization of religious literature and activities, and for the dissolution of entire religious groups.”
“Russia’s 1997 law ‘On freedom of conscience and religious associations’ grants the government the power to dissolve religious groups that are found to be harmful to Russians’ morality or health, or to encroach upon citizens’ rights, freedom or individuality,” the letter continued. “Even more restrictive is the 2002 law ‘On counteracting extremist activity.’ Under this law, religious organizations that are directed toward ‘extremist activity’ are susceptible to liquidation.”
Mr. Grieboski’s letter concluded by “ask[ing] that you raise these pressing concerns in your upcoming conversations with Medvedev, and, in particular, that you ask him to support revision and amendment of the 1997 and 2002 acts so that they facilitate the registration of religious groups, allow groups slated for liquidation to organize and defend themselves, and protect rights to religious expression and the maintenance of foreign contacts, as well as provide education and oversight to ensure that the laws are enforced in an unbiased and equitable manner.”
The full text of the letter can be found on the Institute’s website.
About Institute on Religion and Public Policy The Institute on Religion and Public Policy is an international, inter-religious non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring freedom of religion as the foundation for security, stability, and democracy. The Institute works globally with government policymakers, religious leaders, business executives, academics, international and regional organizations, non-governmental organizations and others in order to develop, protect, and promote fundamental rights - especially the right of religious freedom - and contributes to the intellectual and moral foundation of the fundamental right of religious freedom. Nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize, the Institute encourages and assists in the effective and cooperative advancement of religious freedom.
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