From: [email protected] (Martin Ottmann)
Subject: Russian OSA message from July 20th, 1994
Date: 27 Jan 2003 15:13:46 -0800
Message-ID: <[email protected]>
2007100 otl russia a/invest aide osa eu info: d/co dsas osa eu, pred and invest chf osai, cont/sect inv handling off osai, pr pgms exec chf osai, csi research and analyis off osai
re: russia religion law
here are key data about the religion scene as related to the religion law preps in the state duma. since the last couple of months there are several law projects submitted inside the duma for consideration or as attempts to spark off a united law change. also major religious orgs have submitted their input to the duma as follows:
a) russian orthodox church 12.5.94
"1.2 all kinds of activities or religious orgs since being non-profitable and getting money resources only in order to transfer them to people again, should be released frm all kinds of taxes, incl. the vat ... also exemption from customs duties on the goods imported by religious orgs from abroad.
"1.3 one of the problems, which agitates both the orthodox church community and many people of a different faith and non-belivers as well, is still the necessity to protect the society against the encroachment on life, health, rights, freedoms and dignity of a human being on the part of the extremist religious and pseudo-religious groups. this problem have already been covered in amendments to the criminal code of russian federation, not long ago introduced by the russian parliament, and now it is necessary for the rigth-protecting bodies and legal power to strictly promote the realization of the passed law".
"1.4 there is one more urgent problem still existing - the lack of some right norms in russia, regulating the professional religious activity of foreign citizens on the territory of russia. the solving of this problem we see in the removal of withdrawal of professional religious activity from the regulation about the use of foreign labour force in russia ... in case this amendment is introduced, this regulation makes the professional activity of foreigners in the religious sphere quite possible, but only if a foreign citizen has an invitation for exercising such an activity from a russian religious org, which is entitled to use the foreigners labour and obtains the permission of corresponding state bodies for it." ...
"1.5 ... it should be recognized inadmissible to create in the system of executive power certain administrative organs, which possess special executive, administrative and control authorities with respect to religious orgs, and withdrawal of these authorities from the sphere of activity of corresponding ministries and departments."
"2.3 the idea of calling of interconfessional "round tables" or meetings for discussion the views of russian religious assoc. on the problems of improving the legislation about the freedom of conscience and the activity of religious orgs is considered to be advisable and useful ... the representation on such meetings ought to be regulated with regard for the number of followers of one or other religion or confession in russian federation. the interests of scanty (less then 25000 members) religious assoc on such meetings can be represented by more numerous religious assoc on a mutual agreement between the first and the latter ones."
the catholic church put in a letter to the duma and the union of evangelical christian-baptists of russia did as well. here is quote from the latter: "it is necessary to make a thoroughly considered approach with the participation of representatives of all confessions. only with respect for their remarks and wishes such a bill could be scheduled for hearing in the state duma."
proposals on the lines of the state duma: draft by democratic party russia: it mainly focuses on properties to be restored to the churches and religious orgs that existed before the current religion law from 1990. but it has a weight on foreign msnrs by demanding that these only can work in russia provided they do so per the law for foreign workers, per invitation from russian religious orgs which have permission to invite, use foreign labour, and this again under control of ministry of justice or any other organ of the russian federation. this is restrictive.
draft by lisitchkin from the zhirinovsky party: was made and was extreme in its attempt to back up the orthodox church but disregarding any other religions. this draft was not considered valid for use in the duma.
more recent draft by two deputies glasiev and lisitchkin: (no data about their party lines but seems it is lisitchkin in a new attempt) the title of this draft "recognition of the property rights of russian religious orgs" and it only concerns exactly that, has section of e.g. foeign [sic] msnrs or anything else which would be of our interest.
besides the duma project/poposals above there is a thick proposal from the rusian [sic] government, which is thought to be put on the lines as attempt to get duma deputies to use in their work. this proposal i have not translated as i have a reliable ally who read it and found it not different than the already existing religion law from 1990, which has the proper principles of freedom of religion.
there were activity in the duma in june and rumours about fast to get a law proposal agreed upon so the first hearing could be scheduled. but so far there is no agreement stablished within the legislative deputies. most likely the law proposing work will not really happen until autumn/winter. but the fact that there are projects in the duma for this law change makes the lobbyists go on the line of the duma. we know that a parents committe last week attempted to get a meeting with duma deputies about this law but this got prevented.
parallel to the above the non-profit charity committee for saving the youth with deputy chairman alexei dunts made media in moscow times 21.6.94: "the moscow duma is launching an investigation into the issue this month, the results will be used to push for major legislative changes, a duma official says. the dangerous sects appear to be mother of god centre, aum sinrike group and the white brotherhood. an independant commission will be formed from lawyers, religious specialists and medical doctors by early july to study the working and effects of such sects. a source close to the investigation confirmed that no charges have ben [sic] brought against the cults yet. in an open letter this month signed by 26 of the city dumas 35 deputies media orgs were urged to be more cautious with giving air time and page space to religious orgs.
in june there was an international christian conference in the russian orthodox church where patriarch aleksey 2nd in his welcome speech incl "the positive changes in the field of religious freedom that have restored a full-fledged life for traditional churches and religious orgs at the same time have created a situation in which destructive actions committed by some religious and pseudo-religious groups have noticeably darkened religio-social and interconfessional relations".
but in an appeal from the same confrence it was expressed: "we share the commitment to generally accepted principles of respect for human rights, incl. the right to freedom of conscience and equality of people of different nationalities religious and other convictions before law. we are profoundly concerned over violations of human rights today ... in our service to society we are open to co-operation with the followers of other religions".
howver [sic] the concluding doc from the conference did incl. negative comment as follows "spreading of sects and new religious movements, development of heathenism and satanist cults, the problem of proselytism is very important".
these are the main data.
1. get the law change of crime law for russia re acting on religious orgs, get it interpreted by lawyer for its use. work out handling as needed.
2. work out a handling of the damaging "sects" so they get d.a.ed and not categorized as regular religions.
3. gather other faiths in a meeting and brief up on the scene as per above, suply them with d.a. docs re arm forces in russia and work out basic idea on proposal to the duma and who would be the person to represent all in this matter. this meeting is set for 25 july by now and we wll gather as many as possible in this holliday [sic] period.
4. review the many other data gathered on the scene to pick out any other aspects for use in handling the sit with the law.
5. when docs arrive from eu pr office select best one for use with deputies etc in this sit and get them prof translated and put into duma lines.
6. meet with ally from federal council lines (upper house) and liaise with him any other lines for use in getting proper data onto the deputies.
7. get internatl allies to cont sending open letters to the patriach about the freedom of religion in russia and get the totalitarian grip from the past finally lifted.
ml co osa cis