Russia

FECRIS Russian accomplices' activities highlighted at the OSCE 2022

After two years of online activities due to COVID-related problems, finally OSCE, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, was able to organize again a in-person yearly Human Dimension Meeting in Warsaw held from September 26 to October 7. One of the issues discussed was the anti-cult activities by FECRIS and its Russian's accomplices.

Why dozens of NGOs and individuals ask that FECRIS' Consultative Status with the United Nations ECOSOC be revoked

The following is an appeal promoted by Bitter Winter, an online magazine on religious liberty and human rights published by CESNUR, the Center for Studies on New Religions. OB, signatory of the appeal, over the years has published a number of articles on FECRIS and its role in spreading anti-cult ideology.

How the anti-cult movement has participated to fuel Russian anti-Ukraine rhetoric

Far from endorsing any political stance on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, aware of the old adage that warns that "between the two quarrels there is always a third who enjoys", we publish this article taken from The European Times by Jan Leonid Bornstein, which illustrates the role of the anti-cult movement in fomenting intolerance and division between religions, cultures and peoples.

ECHR rules two judgments in favour of 14 Jehovah’s Witnesses against Russia

By Willy Fautré — On 22 February, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued two judgments in favor of 14 Jehovah’s Witnesses and found that Russia violated their fundamental rights to freedom of religion. Russia has been ordered to pay a total of over 99,000 euros ($112,323 U.S.) in compensation for violations that included mistreatment at the hands of law enforcement officials between 2010 and 2012.

Intolerance always hides a weakness

by Steno Sari — Religious freedom means the possibility of believing in what one likes, as well as not believing, and often includes the fight against dogmatism, prejudice and intolerance. Throughout history, it has cost an incalculable number of lives burnt in bloody religious conflicts. Safeguarding this freedom concerns the essence of human dignity and can rightly be considered the litmus test for the respect of all other fundamental rights and freedoms, since it is their synthesis and keystone.

RUSSIA: "Foreign agents", "undesirable organisations", and freedom of religion or belief

by Victoria Arnold — Russia has used increasingly strict legislation on "foreign agents" (a term which has connotations of spying) and "undesirable organisations" to curtail, complicate, or prohibit the activities of organisations which promote human rights and monitor their violation, including that of freedom of religion and belief. This "indirectly affects the people human rights defenders stand up for", says Aleksandr Verkhovsky of the SOVA Centre for Information and Analysis (branded a "foreign agent").

European Court of Human Rights Again Upholds Religious Freedom, Handing Down Victory for the Church of Scientology

by STAND League — In a unanimous December 14, 2021 decision, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)[1] again ruled that the Russian government has violated the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression of Scientologists as guaranteed in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

Human Rights Day: a Story to Think About

How far can the hatred generated by intolerance towards religious minorities go? The article of which we repropose here below some excerpts provides an eloquent answer. In this case to pay the costs of the murderous hatred of ignorant Muslim crowds are faithful Hindus and Christians, i.e. the faithful of two of the major religions on Earth, in the Islamic world, however, they are often in the minority.

Kyrgyz Jehovah's Witnesses can continue to use their books

On November 30 we reported on the proceedings against the Kirhisi Jehovah's Witnesses, guilty of using publications that, according to the General Prosecutor's Office, are "extremist", in accordance with the intolerant and anti-cult line of neighboring Russia. Today we are pleased to announce that the District Court of Pervomayskiy has rejected the request of the Prosecutor's Office, also thanks to an expert opinion written by Massimo Introvigne and Rosita Šorytė, respectively director and deputy director of Bitter Winter.

Russia Model Restricting Religious Freedom Exported to Kyrgyzstan?

Will Kyrgyzstan Abide by the Rule of Law or Merely Follow in the Footsteps of Russia by Restricting Religious Freedom? - The test case of the Publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In Kyrgyzstan, the Pervomayskiy District Court is expected to rule on Thursday 2 December on a claim from the General Prosecutor’s office to ban 13 publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses as “extremist,” with the apparent aim of following in Russia’s footsteps and banning the Witnesses simply for their peaceful Christian worship.

The Krishna Society wins in Court against Russia

Press Release by the Registrar of the Court — The applicants are the Centre of Societies for Krishna Consciousness, a religious organisation under Russian law based in Moscow, and a Russian national Mikhail Aleksandrovich Frolov. The case concerns the applicants’ attempts to challenge hostile descriptions of the Krishna movement and the refusal of permission to hold public religious events promoting the teachings of Vaishnavism.

Russia sentenced once more by the European Court

Once again the European Court stigmatize and condemns the intolerant behavior of Russia towards the new religious movements present on Russian territory disliked by the ruling Orthodox class and the Russian anti-cultists headed by Alexander Dvorkin, vice-president of FECRIS and director of the Saint Irenaeus of Lyons Centre for Religious Studies, a Russian association affiliated to FECRIS. We publish below an article by HRWF about the ruling of the European Court.

Historic Victory of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia: Group Prayer Is Not a Crime

October 28, 2021 will be remembered as another day when David defeated Goliath. The Supreme Court of Russia has ruled that Jehovah's Witnesses who pray in groups do not commit a crime and therefore cannot be prosecuted. The sentence opens a breach in art. 282.2 of the controversial Yarovaya law. The hope is that now all Jehovah's Witnesses detained in Russian prisons for praying or reading the Bible as a group will be released as soon as possible.

Freedom of Religion or Belief of Russian Scientologist affirmed by European Court of Human Rights

By Tabitha Berg — The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has once again affirmed the rights of Scientologists in Russia to practice their religion based on Article 9 of the ECHR Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, announced the Church of Scientology International.

The Anti-Cult Ideology and FECRIS: Dangers for Religious Freedom. A White Paper

Six scholars look at the European anti-cult federation, and conclude it is seriously dangerous for religious liberty.

By Luigi Berzano (University of Torino, Italy), Boris Falikov (Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow, Russia), Willy Fautré (Human Rights Without Frontiers, Brussels, Belgium), Liudmyla Filipovich (Lesya Ukrainka Eastern European National University, Lutsk, Ukraine), Massimo Introvigne (Center for Studies on New Religions, Torino, Italy), and Bernadette Rigal-Cellard (University Bordeaux-Montaigne, Bordeaux, France)

Russian Orthodox Church: Internecine Struggle About “Cults”

by Massimo Introvigne — I had never heard of Professor Roman Kon, from the Moscow Theological Academy, until somebody called my attention on the fact that he got in trouble after having been accused of “taking the side of Massimo Introvigne,” apparently a serious crime in Russia. From the answer he posted among the comments to the article attacking him by Vladimir Martinovich, lecturer on “cults” in Belarus’ Minsk Theological Academy, it seems that Kon did indeed his homework in reading what I wrote on the issue of brainwashing, and came to conclusions that are a matter of course among Western scholars of new religious movements.

Department of State Religious Freedom Report: China Is Guilty of “Crimes against Humanity”

by Massimo Introvigne — There is a different administration from last year in Washington DC but the yearly survey of religious liberty produced by the U.S. Department of State in 2021 (covering events of 2020) is as strong as last year’s report, or stronger. Secretary Blinken introduced the report on May 12 by singling out China as a country that “criminalizes religious expression” in general. Blinken did not avoid two politically significant definitions: “crimes against humanity” for how China treats religion, and “genocide” for what is being done to “Uyghurs and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups.”

RUSSIA: A case of violation of the right to freely practice one’s faith in community pending in Strasbourg

by Willy Fautré (HRWF) — The case against a Protestant pastor deprived of his right to organize religious meetings in his home in Russia is pending at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The case was filed by ADF International and is under review of the Court. Over the course of several years, a registered group of Evangelical Christian Baptists used to gather in a private house in Verkhnebakansky in Southern Russia. In September 2018, the local authorities filed a lawsuit against the former owner of the building asking the court to ban its use for religious purposes. The administration claimed that there were violations of fire safety and anti-terror provisions, that the building was registered as a residential house and could not be used as a church.

Russia intensifies persecution for reading the Bible in occupied Crimea

by Halya Coynash — A Russian-controlled court in Simferopol has placed 42-year-old Ukrainian Taras Kuzio under house arrest following mass armed searches of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ homes in occupied Yalta. The occupation regime has slightly varied the charge this time, although Kuzio is facing the same persecution as other believers for practising his faith. The hearing on 12 March at the ‘Kievsky District Court’ took place behind closed doors, and with a lawyer appointed by the ‘investigators’.