Summarized by Kent Larsen
Leader's Statement May Be New Threat To LDS in Russia
WASHINGTON, DC -- Less than a week after the US State Department
criticized attacks on religious minorities in Russia, Russia's
Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo suggested that police and
religious leaders should combine to oppose sects which "aim to
undermine statehood in Russia." The remarks are the clearest
statements to date suggesting that the dominant Russian Orthodox
Church has a special relationship with the state and against
court-imposed limitations on government controls over religions.
Rushailo's comments were made in Volgograd on Friday, the city in
which two of the attacks condemned by the state department occurred.
On August 20th, a Mormon congregation and a Jehovah's Witness
congregation were driven from their meeting places in separate
attacks, and two LDS missionaries from the US were threatened by the
Religious freedom in Russia has been problematic in the last ten
years. Several years ago the Russian Orthodox Church successfully
persuaded the government to pass a law establishing a special
relationship between the Church and the government, and allowing the
government to move against minority religions. But Russia's
Constitutional Court struck down several provisions of the law as
unconstitutional violations of the principle of freedom of conscience
in the 1993 Russian Constitution.
The timing of Rushailo's comments could also be read as a direct
response to the US State Department's complaints, suggesting that
Russia isn't interested in protecting religious minorities from harm.
A New Threat to Religious Minorities?
Russia Today (Radio Free Europe) 10Oct00 T1
By Paul Goble: Radio Free Europe