Russia: International Religious Freedom Report 2006

Russia: International Religious Freedom Report 2006
Date 2006/9/17 7:48:51 | Topic: World

Russia: International Religious Freedom Report 2006
Released by the US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
This report is submitted to the Congress by the Department of State in
compliance with Section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom
Act (IRFA) of 1998. The law provides that the secretary of state, with
the assistanceof the ambassador at large for international religious
freedom, shall transmit to Congress "an Annual Report on International
Religious Freedom supplementing the most recent Human Rights Reports
by providing additionaldetailed information with respect to matters
involving international religious freedom."

Russia: The constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the
Government generally respected this right in practice; however, in
some cases authorities imposed restrictions on certain
groups. Although the constitution provides for the equality of all
religions before the law and the separation of church and state, the
Government did not always respect these provisions.

Conditions deteriorated for some minority religious groups while
remaining largely the same for most, and government policy continued
to contribute to the generally free practice of religion for most of
the population.

Some federal agencies and many local authorities continued to restrict
the rights of various religious minorities. Legal obstacles to
registration under a complex 1997 law "On Freedom of Conscience and
Associations" (1997 Law) continued to seriously disadvantage many
religious groups considered nontraditional. The Moscow Golovinskiy
Intermunicipal District Court citedthe 1997 Law as the basis for its
March 2004 decision banning Jehovah’s Witnesses in Moscow, a decision
that continued to have significant negative ramifications for the
activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses during the reporting period. There
were indications that the security services, including the Federal
Security Service (FSB), increasingly treated the leadership of some
minority religious groups as security threats.

Religious matters were not a source of social tension or problems for
the large majority of citizens. Popular attitudes toward
traditionally Muslim ethnic groups, however, were negative in many
regions, and there were manifestations of anti-Semitism as well as
hostility toward Roman Catholics and other non?Orthodox Christian
denominations. Some observant Muslims claimed harassment because of
their faith. Instances of religiously motivated violence continued,
although it was often difficult to determine whether xenophobic,
religious, or ethnic prejudices were the primary motivation behind

Many citizens firmly believe that at least nominal adherence to the
Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) is at the heart of their national
identity. Conservative activists claiming ties to the ROC occasionally
disseminated negative publications and held meetings throughout the
country against other religions considered non-traditional in the
country, including alternative Orthodox congregations. Some ROC clergy
have stated publicly their opposition to any expansion of the presence
of Roman Catholics, Protestants, and other non-Orthodox denominations.

The U.S. government discusses religious freedom issues with the
Government as part of its overall policy to promote human rights and
engages a number of religious groups, nongovernmental organizations
(NGOs), and others in a regular dialogue on religious freedom. The
embassy and consulates work with NGOs to encourage the development of
programs to sensitize officials to recognize discrimination,
prejudice, and crimes motivated by ethnic or religious intolerance. In
many instances, federal and regional officials strongly support the
implementation of these programs. The embassy and consulates maintain
a broad range of contacts in the religious and NGO communities through
frequent communication and meetings. Mission officers look into
possible violationsof religious freedom and also raise the issue of
visas for religious workers with the Passport and Visa Unit in the
Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) and the Foreign Ministry
(MFA). During the reporting period, the U.S. ambassador addressed
religious freedom in public addresses and consultations with
government officials. He also attended events on major religious
holidays and regularly met with a range of religious leaders. Other
Department of Stateand U.S. government officials raised the treatment
of minority religious groups with officials on many occasions.

Section I. Religious Demography

The country has a total area of 6,592,769 square miles, and its
population is approximately 142.8 million. There were no reliable
statistics that break down the population by denomination. Available
information suggested approximately 70 percent of the residents
considered themselves Russian Orthodox Christians, although the vast
majority were not regular churchgoers. Therewere an estimated fourteen
to twenty-three million Muslims, constituting approximately 14 percent
of the population and forming the largest religious minority. The
majority of Muslims lived in the Volga-Urals region–which included
Tatarstan and Bashkortostan–and the North Caucasus, although Moscow,
St. Petersburg, and parts of Siberia had notable Muslim populations
as well. The Muslim communities in the Volga-Urals region and the
North Caucasus are culturally and in some cases theologically distinct
from one another and therefore must be considered separate

According to the Slavic Center for Law and Justice, Protestants made
up the second largest group of Christian believers, with approximately
3,500 organizations and more than 2 million followers. An estimated
600,000 to 1 million Jews (0.5 percent of the population) remained,
following large-scale emigration over the last two decades; the
Federation of Jewish Communities(FJC) estimated that up to 500,000
Jews lived in Moscow and 100,000 in St. Petersburg.

These estimates significantly exceeded the results of the official
government census. Between 5,000 and 7,000 Jews lived in the so-called
Jewish Autonomous Oblast (region), located in the Far East. The
Catholic Church estimated that there were from 600,000 to 1.5 million
Catholics in the country, figures that also exceeded government
estimates. Buddhism is traditional to three regions: Buryatiya, Tuva,
and Kalmykiya; and the Buddhist Association of Russia estimated there
were between 1.5 and 2 million Buddhists. In some areas, such as
Yakutiya and Chukotka, pantheistic and nature-based religions were
practiced independently or alongside other religions.

According to Human Rights Ombudsman Lukin’s annual report, the
Ministry of Justice (MOJ) had registered 22,513 religious
organizations as of December 2005, approximately 500 more than January
2005 (22,092), an increase of approximately 1,500 registered
organizations since 2002 and more than 5,500 since 1997. As of
December 2005, the Federal Registration Service recorded the number of
registered religious groups as follows: Russian Orthodox
Church–12,214 groups, Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church–43, Russian
Orthodox Church Abroad–30, True Orthodox Church–42, Russian Orthodox
Free Church–10, Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kiev Patriarchate)–11,
Old Believers–285 (representing 4 different Old Believer
denominations), Roman Catholic–251, Greek Catholic–4, Armenian
Apostolic–68, Muslim–3,668, Buddhist–197, Jewish–284 (divided
among Orthodox and Reform groups), Evangelical Christians -740,
Baptist–965, Pentecostal–1,486, Seventh-day Adventist–652, other
evangelical and charismatic groups–72, Lutheran–228 (divided among 4
groups), New Apostolic–80, Methodist–115, Reformist–5,
Presbyterian–187, Anglican–1, Jehovah’s Wi tnesses–408,
Mennonite–10, Salvation Army–10, Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints (LDS)(Mormon) Church–53, Unification Church–9,
Church of the "Sovereign" Icon of the Mother of God–27, Molokane–27,
Dukhobor–0, Church of the Last Covenant–7, Church of Christ–19,
Judeo-Christians–2, nondenominational Christian–12,
Scientologist–1, Hindu–1, Krishna–78, Baha’i–19, Tantric–2,
Taoist–5, Assyrian–2, Sikh–1, Shamanist–14, Karaite–1,
Zoroastrian–1, Spiritual Unity (Tolstoyan)–1, Living Ethic
(Rerikhian)–1, pagan–8, other confessions–155.

The number of registered religious organizations does not reflect the
entire demography of religious believers. For example, due to legal
restrictions, poor administrative procedures on the part of some local
authorities, or disputes between religious organizations, an unknown
number of groups havebeen unable to register or reregister; and other
religious believers may not seek to be members of any organized
religious group.

There were a large number of missionaries operating in the country,
particularly from Protestant denominations.

An estimated 500 (official estimate) to more than 9,000 (Council of
Muftis’ estimate) Muslim organizations remained unregistered; some
reportedly were defunct, but many, according to the Council of Muftis,
have concluded that they did not require legal status and have
postponed applying for financial reasons. Registration figures
probably also underestimated the number of Pentecostal churches. As of
May 2006, there were nearly 1,500 Pentecostal organizations officially
registered (up from 1,467 in 2004) and 18 regional associations;
statistics on the number of believers were unavailable. The difference
in numbers can be explained by the fact that many Pentecostal churches
remain unregistered. The Union of Evangelical Christian Baptists
reported more than 1,000 registered churches, 549 unregistered groups,
7 regional associations, and more than 75,000 members. The Union of
Seventh-Day Adventists estimated that there were 1,026 Adventist
organizations in the country (more than 600 of them are registered
with the Ministry of Justice) and more than 100,000 church
followers. According to the Russian Union of Christians of Evangelical
Faith (whose members included Baptists, Pentecostals, Adventists, and
the Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith), there were 2,005
registered churches and unregistered groups, more than 180,000 members
of the Church, and 67 regional central organizations. The total number
of members of the Church and other evangelical believers was estimated
at 320,000.

Some religious groups registered as social organizations because they
were unable to do so as religious organizations. In 2005 the
Association of Christian Unification Churches reported that the drop
in its registered organizations from seventeen in 2003 to five was due
to local authorities hindering the association’s attempt to reregister
its local organizations. In 2006, it continued to report 5 registered
organizations, approximately 30 unregistered groups, and 1,000
believers. The Moscow Monthly Friends’ Meeting (Quakers)was an
officially registered organization, although as of May 2006, it
apparently was registered under "other faiths," as there was no Quaker
organization listed in the MOJ registry.

In practice, only a minority of citizens participated actively in any
religion. Many who identified themselves as members of a faith
participated in religious life rarely or not at all.

Section II. Status of Religious Freedom

Legal/Policy Framework

The constitution provides for freedom of religion and the Government
generally respected this right in practice; however, in some cases the
authorities imposed restrictions on certain groups. The constitution
also provides for the equality of all religions before the law and the
separation of church and state; however, the Government did not always
respect this provision.

The 1997 Law declared all religions equal before the law, prohibited
government interference in religion, and established simple
registration procedures for religious groups. Although the 1997 Law
did not recognize a state religion, its preamble recognized
Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and other religions as
constituting an inseparable part of the country’s historical heritage,
and also recognized the "special contribution of Orthodoxy to the
history of Russia and to the establishment and development of Russia’s
spirituality and culture." Public opinion widely considered Orthodoxy,
Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism to be the only religions "traditional" to
the country.

Implementing regulations took effect on April 10, 2006, for the Law on
Public Associations (NGO Law), which President Putin signed on January

The 1997 Law remains the primary legislation governing religious
organizations, but some provisions of the new NGO Law will apply to
religious organizations as well. Although implementing regulations
were in effect for too short a time in the reporting period to examine
their effects on policy directives and subsequent implementation, the
new law’s inspection provisions are of particular concern since they
appear to permit government inspections of religious organizations and
attendance at some of their public events with advance
notice. Although most of the provisions in the new law do not apply to
religious organizations, the law appears to contain some provisions
that apply, such as new reporting requirements; the authority for the
registration body (located in the MOJ) to request certain documents,
send its representatives to participate in events, and review on an
annual basis compliance of an organizations’ activities with its
statutory goals; and a requirement thatcovered nonprofit organizations
inform the registering body of changes to certaindata within three
days of the effectuation of the changes. In addition, the brief
amendment to the Civil Code would also appear to reach religious
organizations, but the effect of this amendment and all other
amendments remains to be seen in how the authorities choose to
implement the law. Local authoritiesin St. Petersburg, however, began
an investigation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Center,
even before the new law’s implementing regulations were agreed upon,
but citing the new law as the cause and indicating that they would
find any irregularity that would permit them to close down the center.

On March 10, 2006, President Putin signed a controversial
anti-terrorism law, which critics charged was vaguely-worded,
especially the provision that permits the banning of any organization
"whose purposes and actions include the propaganda, justification, and
support of terrorism."

In January 2005 authorities amended the 1997 Law to conform to a new
law on state registration of other legal entities. The amended law
requires all registered local religious organizations to inform the
Federal Registration Service (FRS) within three days of a change in
its leadership or legal address.

If a local organization fails to meet this requirement on two or more
occasions, the FRSD can file suit to dissolve and deregister the
organization. Some denominations with numerous local organizations
feared that compliance with this change will be highly burdensome.

Neither the constitution nor the 1997 Law accords explicit privileges
or advantages to the four "traditional" religions; however, many
politicians and public figures argued for closer cooperation with
them, and above all with the ROC. The ROC has entered into a number of
agreements–some formal, others informal–with government ministries
on such matters as guidelines for public education and law enforcement
and customs decisions, giving the ROC far greater access than other
religious groups to public institutions such as schools, hospitals,
prisons, the police, the FSB, and the army. In November 2004 the ROC
and the MVD extended an earlier agreement pursuant to which the two
entities cooperate in efforts to combat extremism, terrorism, and drug

Such efforts include, for example, ROC support for the psychological
rehabilitation of servicemen returning from conflict zones and the
holdingof religious services for those serving there.

Many government officials and citizens equate Russian Orthodoxy with
the national identity. This belief appears to have manifested itself
in the church-state relationship. For example, the ROC has made
special arrangements with government agencies to conduct religious
education and to provide spiritual counseling. These include
agreements with the Ministries of Education, Defense, Health, Internal
Affairs, and Emergency Situations, and other bodies, such as the
Federal Tax Service, Federal Border Service, and Main Department of
Cossack Forces under the President. Not all of the details of these
agreements were accessible, but available information indicated that
the ROC received more favorable treatment than other
denominations. Some government officials’ public statements and
anecdotal evidence from religious minorities suggested that
increasingly since 1999, the ROC has enjoyed a status that approaches
official. Although it was illegal, election campaign teams reportedly
often included ROC clergy who frequently played a special role at
official events at both the local and national level and who supported
a close relationship with the State. Non-ordained ROC officials may
participate in election campaigns but not as official church
spokesmen. Nonetheless, policymakers remained divided on the State’s
proper relationship with the ROC and other churches.

The Rodina Duma faction and single-mandate deputies representing the
People’s Party have consistently supported a more official status for
the ROC. The president, in contrast with his predecessors, has openly
spoken of his belief in God, and greeted Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim, and
Buddhist communities on major religious holidays. He also meets
periodically–last documented in September 2004–with members of the
Presidential Council on Cooperation with Religious Associations, which
includes representatives of traditional religions and other major
religious communities, such as the Protestants and Catholics, to
discuss topical issues. Sergey Sobyanin, Chief of the Presidential
Administration, headed the Council, and two Presidential
Administration officials (Mikhail Ostrovskiy and Aleksandr
Kudryavtsev) were Council members.

The 1997 Law ostensibly targets so-called totalitarian sects or
dangerous religious cults, by making it difficult for members of less
well-established religions to set up religious organizations. Many
officials in law enforcement and the legislative branches spoke of
protecting the "spiritual security" of the country by discouraging the
growth of "sects" and "cults," usually understood to include
Protestant and newer religious movements. The 1997 Law is very
complex, with many ambiguous provisions, creating various categories
of religious communities with different levels of legal status and

Most significantly, the law distinguishes between religious "groups"
and "organizations." A religious "group" is not registered and
consequently does not have the legal status of a juridical person; it
may not open a bank account, own property, issue invitations to
foreign guests, publish literature, enjoy tax benefits, or conduct
worship services in prisons and state?owned hospitals and among the
armed forces. However, individual members of a group may buy property
for the group’s use, invite personal guests to engage in religious
instruction, and import religious material. In this way, authorities
theoretically permitted groups to rent public spaces and hold
services; however, in practice members of unregistered groups
sometimes encountered significant difficulty in doing so.

The 1997 Law provides that a group that has existed for fifteen years
and has at least ten citizen members may register as a "local
organization." It acquires the status of a juridical person and
receives certain legal advantages. A group with three functioning
local organizations in different regions may found a "centralized
organization," which has the right to establish affiliated local
organizations without meeting the fifteen-year-rule requirement.

The 1997 Law required all religious organizations registered under a
more liberal 1990 law to reregister by December 31, 2000. In practice,
this process, which involved simultaneous registration at the federal
and local levels, required considerable time, effort, and legal
expense. International and well-funded domestic religious
organizations began to reregister soon after publication of the 1997
regulations; however, some Pentecostal congregations refused to
register out of religious conviction, and some Muslim groups decided
that they would not benefit from reregistering, according to
spokespersonsfor the two most prominent muftis.

Representative offices of foreign religious organizations are required
to register with state authorities, and they are barred from
conducting services and other religious activities unless they have
acquired the status of a group or organization. In practice, many
foreign religious representative offices opened without registering or
were accredited to a registered religious organization.

Under a 1999 amendment to the 1997 Law, groups that failed to
reregister became subject to legal dissolution (often translated as
"liquidation"), i.e., deprivation of juridical status. By the deadline
for reregistration, the MOJ held an estimated 2,095 religious groups
subject to dissolution and dissolved approximately 980 by May 2002,
asserting they were defunct, but religious minorities and NGOs
contended that a significant number were active.

Complaints of involuntary dissolution have decreased in recent years
in part because those who fought dissolution have already taken their
cases to court; however, a few groups, such as the Jehovah’s
Witnesses, Salvation Army, the Unification Church and Scientologists,
were still fighting their cases through the court system.

The 1997 Law gives officials the authority to ban religious
groups. Unlike dissolution, which involves only the loss of an
organization’s juridical status, a ban prohibits all of the activities
of a religious community.

Authorities have not used the law to ban many groups to date. However,
in a notable exception, the decision of a Moscow court judge in June
2004 to uphold on appeal the ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses garnered
significant media coverage and prompted an upswing in restrictions on
Jehovah’s Witnesses. As of April 2006, authorities permitted
registration of Jehovah’s Witnesses groups in 400 local communities in
72 regions, but problems with registration continued in some areas,
notably Moscow, where the Moscow Golovinskiy Intermunicipal District
Court and the Moscow City Court (of appeal) have banned them.

A lack of specific guidelines accompanying the 1997 Law contributed to
inconsistent application at the local and regional levels. Local
officials, reportedly often influenced either by close relations with
local ROC authorities or the FSB, sometimes refused outright to
register groups or created prohibitive obstacles to
registration. There were indications that the Procurator General
encouraged local prosecutors to challenge the registration of some
minority religious groups.

The LDS Church succeeded in registering fifty-one local religious
organizations as of the end of the reporting period. In 2005
authorities registered the LDS Church in Tver following a series of
rejections of its applicationfor registration. The group has not been
able to register a local religious organization in Kazan, Tatarstan,
since 1998 despite numerous attempts. InApril 2006 the Federal
Registration Service, part of the MOJ, restored the Salvation Army’s
registration documentation for the country-wide central religious
organization. The legal position of its Moscow branch remained

Although the Constitutional Court found earlier rulings by Moscow
courts dissolving the Moscow branch of the Salvation Army to be
unconstitutional,the Moscow Oblast Department of Justice had not
reregistered the organization by the end of the reporting period, and
two of the court judgments that legally dissolved the applicant branch
remained in force, despite the ruling of the Constitutional Court.

In a separate case, authorities had not enforced the Presnenskiy
District Court ruling against the Salvation Army’s registration, and
according to the organization’s Moscow office, it continued to operate
based on documents filed under the old statute. The preface of the
Presnenskiy Court’s ruling refers to the Salvation Army as a
"militarized organization." A textbook on religious culture prepared
for use in schools repeats this definition of the Salvation Army,
which it calls a "sect." The Slavic Center for Law and Justice (SCLJ)
was working with the Moscow office of the Salvation Army to overturn
the Presnenskiy Court ruling. The European Court for Human Rights
(ECHR) ruledin June 2004 that the group’s complaint that Moscow
authorities had not allowed it to reregister was admissible; however,
the court declared the rest of the complaints inadmissible. At the end
of the reporting period, an ECHR decision on the merits was pending;
however, the Salvation Army had not reported obstruction of its daily
activities in Moscow.

Moscow authorities continued to deny reregistration to the Moscow
branch of the Church of Scientology, threatening it with
dissolution. The Scientologists countered the MOJ contention that the
church had failed to reregister by the deadline by citing the 2002
Constitutional Court ruling in favor of the Salvation Army. Despite
the court ruling against dissolution, the Government filed a
supervisory appeal to the Supreme Court, which granted it, and
remanded the case back to the trial court for new proceedings, in
which the trial court ruled in the Government’s favor. In February
2005, a Moscow appeals court ordered Moscow Oblast officials to permit
the Church to submit an application for reregistration and to examine
the application on its merits. Prior to this decision, the Church of
Scientology had filed a suit with the ECHR against the dissolution
order, which the ECHR found admissible in October 2004.

The case was still pending in the ECHR. By June 2006 the Church had
filed for reregistration eleven times; the Moscow registration service
rejected the tenth claim on June 27, 2005.

According to the Church of Scientology, other than the reregistration
case the Church has had no substantive problems with other government
agencies in the country in general, such as the tax authorities,
prosecutor’s office, or police. They had good relations with the
authorities, especially regarding the Church’s Human Rights Campaign
and Youth for Human Rights Campaign.

Authorities regularly issued permits without problem for
Church-sponsored human rights events and anti-drug events, which have
the support of various agencies.

Under the Church of Scientology umbrella there were approximately 100
registered groups promoting the Church’s ideas and projects throughout

In response to local authorities’ repeated refusal to register the St.
Petersburg branch of the Church of Scientology, the Church filed
suit. The St. Petersburg registration service claimed that the
document from the St. Petersburg District Authorities certifying that
the Church of Scientology has existed in St. Petersburg for fifteen
years was not "authentic," although it did not give a reason for its
finding. Authorities postponed a hearing scheduled for May 2005 for
procedural reasons until June 2005; due to the illness ofthe presiding
judge, authorities postponed the June 2005 hearing indefinitely, and
at the end of the reporting period no hearing date had been set.

Local authorities have impeded the operation of Scientology centers in
Dmitrograd, Izhevsk, and other localities. Since these centers have
not existed for fifteen years, they were unable to register and cannot
perform religious services (although they were allowed to hold
meetings and seminars). The Churches of Scientology in Surgut City and
Nizhnekamsk (Tatarstan) filed suits with the ECHR against the refusal
of officials to register the churches based on the fifteen-year
rule. The ECHR found the suits admissible in June 2005; the cases were
awaiting a final decision.

The Council of Muftis indicated that registration was not an issue for
Muslim organizations, and some regional Muslim organizations continued
to operate without registration, such as the thirty-nine of
forty-seven Muslim communities in the Stavropol region that operated
without registration despite affiliation with a recognized regional
Muslim administration. How many were unregistered by choice was
unknown, but many Muslim organizations in the North Caucasus preferred
not to be considered an official entity. The regions of
Kabardino-Balkariya and Dagestan have local laws banning extremist
religious activities, described as "Wahhabism," but there were no
reports that authorities invoked these laws to deny registration to
Muslim groups. The government in the Republic of Tatarstan, one of the
strongest Islamic areas, continued to encourage a Tatar cultural and
religious revival while avoiding instituting confrontational religious

The Unification Church reported that the requirements of a broad range
of government agencies, involving fire inspection, tax inspection, and
epidemiological inspection unduly complicated the registration

A 2002 "Law on Foreigners," which transferred much of the
responsibility for visa affairs from the MFA to the MVD, appeared to
disrupt the visa regime for religious and other foreign
workers. Immediately after implementation of this law, nontraditional
groups reported problems receiving long-term visas.

Although the number of such problems appeared to decrease during the
previous reporting period, such reports continued, most notably with
the recent ousters of the principal legal advisor for the Unification
Church in January 2006 and a fellow worker in the Urals in February
2006. The former had lived in Moscow since 1990. As in the latter
case, the FSB inserts itself into matters dealing with visas and
religion, particularly with groups it labels "dangerous cults and
sects," distinctions that it reserves for some of these nontraditional

Working groups within the Government continued to focus on introducing
possible amendments to the controversial 1997 Law but had not
introduced any by the end of the reporting period. Duma Deputy
Aleksandr Chuyev was one of several officials who proposed legislative
changes to formally grant special status to "traditional" religious

According to Federal Registration Service statistics, authorities
investigated the activities of 3,526 religious organizations during
the 2005 calendar year. The MOJ sent notifications of various
violations to 2,996 religious organizations. The courts made decisions
on liquidating fifty-nine local organizations for violations of
constitutional norms and federal legislation during that period. The
courts made no decisions on banning religious organizations. In July
2004 the MOJ had reported that authorities had returned more than
4,000 churches and other property and more than 15,000 religious items
tothe ROC. No update on the latter was available.

Officials of the Presidential Administration, regions, and localities
maintain consultative mechanisms to facilitate government interaction
with religious communities and to monitor application of the 1997
Law. At the national level, groups interact with a special
governmental commission on religion, which includes representatives
from law enforcement bodies and government ministries. On broader
policy questions, religious groups continued to deal with the
Presidential Administration through a body known as the Presidential
Council on Cooperation with Religious Associations. The broad-based
Council is composed of members of the Presidential Administration,
secular academic specialists on religious affairs, and representatives
of traditional and major nontraditional groups. Other governmental
bodies for religious affairs include a Governmental Commission for the
Affairs of Religious Associations, headed by the Minister of Culture
and Mass Communications. Under the President, there is also a Council
for the Promotion of Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights.

Avenues for interaction with regional and local authorities also
exist. The offices of some of the seven Plenipotentiary Presidential
Representatives (Polpreds) include sub-offices that address social and
religious issues.

Regional administrations and many municipal administrations also have
designated officials for liaison with religious organizations; it is
at these administrative levels that religious minorities often
encounter the greatest problems.

The Russian Academy of State Service works with religious freedom
advocates, such as the Slavic Center for Law and Justice, to train
regional and municipal officials in properly implementing the 1997
Law. The academy opens many of its conferences to international

The office of Federal Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin contains a
department for religious freedom issues, which receives and responds
to complaints.

Representatives of some minority religions and many expert observers
claimed that some government officials, particularly in the security
services, believed minority religions–especially Muslims, Roman
Catholics, some Protestant denominations, and other groups–were
security threats, requiring greater monitoring and possibly greater

In 2004 Smolensk and Kursk Oblast authorities adopted local laws
restricting missionary activity. Under these laws, foreigners
visiting the region are forbidden to engage in missionary activity or
to preach unless specifically allowed to do so according to their
visas. There were no reports of enforcement.

Contradictions between federal and local laws, and varying
interpretations of the law, allowed regional officials to restrict the
activities of religious minorities. Many observers attributed
discriminatory practices at the local level to the greater
susceptibility of local governments than the federal government to the
influence of local majority religious groups. There were isolated
instances in which local officials detained individuals engaged in
publicly discussing their religious views, but usually authorities
resolved these instances quickly. Although President Putin’s expressed
desire for greater centralization of power and strengthening of the
rule of law initially ledto some improvements in religious freedom in
the regions, as local laws were brought into conformity with federal
laws, many localities appeared to implement their own policies with
very little federal interference. When the federal government chooses
to intervene, it works through the Procuracy, MOJ, Presidential
Administration, and the courts, forcing regions to comply with federal
law or not, depending on the political stakes, as with the Moscow
Jehovah’s Witnesses and Salvation Army cases. The Government only
occasionally intervened to prevent or reverse discrimination at the
local level.

During the reporting period, President Putin spoke out several times
on the need to combat interethnic and interreligious intolerance,
notably during the September 2005 UN General Assembly and during a
February 2006 session of the Interior Ministry Council. He publicly
condemned the January 2006 attack on a Moscow synagogue.

Officials met regularly during the reporting period with Rabbi Berl

In a January 2006 meeting, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that
the MFA was trying to fine-tune international dialogue dealing with
the issues of how xenophobia and extremism can be countered at the
international level. Lavrov also spoke out strongly against the
January 2006 Moscow synagogue attack, stating that the root causes of
xenophobia and anti-Semitism are deeper than law-enforcement agencies
can cope with and that better education by the government religious
groups, and public organizations could help address the problem. In a
March 2005 meeting, President Putin pledged to make the fight against
anti-Semitism a Government priority, and in an October 2004 meeting,
he expressed support for the revival of Jewish communities. He also
denounced anti-Semitism in several press interviews, usually to
foreign media or while traveling outside the country. In April 2005
Rabbi Lazar met with Moscow Mayor Yuriy Luzhkov to discuss
anti-Semitism and the state of Moscow’s Jewish community. Luzhkov
expressed concern about the growing number of extremist organizations
and pledged the city’s cooperation in fighting extremism. InApril
2005, President Putin became the first Russian leader ever to visit

In March 2004, prominent rabbis Berl Lazar and Pinchas Goldschmidt
came together to call on the Government to better define the meaning
of "extremism." Lazar and Goldschmidt said that law enforcers were
prone to dismiss anti-Semitic actions as simple hooliganism to avoid
calling attention to their region as extremist-oriented and/or to
consciously protect extremist groups with which they sympathized.

During the reporting period, new, more rigorous amendments to the
existing Law on Countering Extremist Activity were working their way
through the Federal Assembly, continuing the initiative begun by the
March 2004 call by then Minister for Nationalities Vladimir Zorin, who
called anti-Semitism and xenophobia major threats to the country,
requiring stricter enforcement ofthe existing statutes outlawing
extremism, such as Article 282 of the Criminal Code (which
criminalizes the incitement of ethnic hatred). He also called for more
programs to educate the public about anti-Semitism and to promote

Minister of Internal Affairs Rashid Nurgaliyev became the first
high-level government official to acknowledge the existence of
right-wing extremist youth groups. Combating this extremism was one of
the top priority tasks for the MVD and FSB, he stated. These
statements marked a positive step toward the Government’s willingness
to prosecute those who commit hate crimes, although few concrete moves
have been made to solve many high-profile cases.

The Government does not require religious instruction in schools, but
it continues to allow public usage of school buildings after hours for
the ROC to provide religious instruction on a voluntary basis. The
Government has backed off from a controversial proposal to introduce
an optional course on the national level, "Foundations of Orthodox
Culture," using a textbook that detailed Orthodox Christianity’s
contribution to the country’s culture, with descriptions of some
minority religions that members of those religions found
objectionable. Although some schools still used the text, the Ministry
of Education rejected further editions and circulation. Nevertheless,
a significant number of regions continued to offer in public schools a
course on Orthodoxy and may continue to do so because municipal
administrations make school curriculum decisions. On the federal
level, the Governmental Commission for the Affairs of Religious
Associations at its December 21, 2005, session chaired by Minister of
Culture Sokolov, supported, among other issues, the proposal of the
Ministry of Culture to grant religious educational institutions the
right to train public school teachers of religion. The proposal to
teach "world religions" or a course on Orthodoxy in the schools
remained controversial among experts, including those in the
ROC. Nevertheless, the ROC in some communities (Kaluga Oblast and
Yekaterinburg) was training local teachers in summer courses providing
teachers with certification to teach "Foundations of Orthodox
Culture." Some regions have begun offering a class on "History of
Religion," a proposal that Education Minister Andrey Fursenko
suggested but had not introduced nationally.

In July 2005 the subscriber services of satellite broadcasters
NTV-Plus and Stream TV launched Spas (Savior) television channel, the
first one in the country devoted to religion. It devotes 40 percent of
its sixteen daily broadcasting hours to Russian Orthodox themes, with
the rest of the time for general interest talk shows, documentaries,
and educational programming. An advisory board including members of
the parliament and senior figures from the Orthodox Church sets the
channel’s agenda and decides on programming strategies.

The constitution mandates the availability of alternative military
service to those who refuse to bear arms for religious or other
reasons of conscience. The law on alternative civil service took
effect in January 2004, and two supplements to the law were issued in
March 2004. The first supplement listed 722 organizations to which
authorities may assign draftees for alternative service, and the
second listed 283 activities that qualified. In June 2004 Prime
Minister Fradkov signed regulations on the implementation of the lawon
alternative civilian service. According to the regulations, the
standard alternative service term is forty-two months–versus the
regular service term of twenty-four months–but the term is shorter,
thirty-six months, if the draftee is assigned to a military
organization. The required service for university graduates is
twenty-one and eighteen months, respectively, in these
situations. Some human rights groups have complained that the extended
length of service for draftees requesting alternative assignments acts
as a punishment for those who exercise their convictions.

The authorities permit Orthodox chapels and priests on army bases and
also give Protestant groups access to military facilities, although on
a limited basis. Authorities largely ban Islamic services in the
military and generally do not give Muslim conscripts time for daily
prayers or alternatives to pork-based meals. Some Muslim recruits
serving in the army have reported that their fellow servicemen
insulted and abused them on the basis of their religion.

In June 2004 authorities closed the federally targeted program on
tolerance and anti-extremism ahead of its original 2005 end date. The
program called for a large number of interagency measures, such as the
review of federal and regional legislation on extremism, mandatory
training for public officialsto promote ethnic and religious
tolerance, and new materials for use in public educational

With the registration of the Diocese of the Transfiguration in
Novosibirsk in August 2005, the Roman Catholic Church completed the
process of registration of the four existing Catholic dioceses
(Moscow, Saratov, Irkutsk, and Novosibirsk). In 2003 President Putin
stated publicly that secular authorities would do everything in their
power to improve relations between the ROC and the Vatican.

Officials have encouraged a revival of Buddhism in Kalmykia with state
subsidies for building Buddhist temples and training monks. The
Governmentissued the Dalai Lama a visa, reversing previous denials of
his visa requests.

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

Critics continue to identify several aspects of the 1997 Law on the
grounds that it provided a legal basis for actions restricting
religious freedom. In particular, they criticized the provisions
requiring organizations to reregister, establishing procedures for
their dissolution, and allowing the Government to ban religious
organizations. Critics also cited provisions that not only limit the
rights of religious "groups" but also require that religious groups
exist for fifteen years before they can qualify for "organization"
status. Although the situation was somewhat better for groups that
were registered before 1997, new groups were sometimes hindered in
their ability to practice their faith. The federal government has
attempted to apply the 1997 Law in a liberal fashion, and critics
directed most of their allegations of restrictive practices at local
officials. Implementation of the 1997 Law varied widely, depending on
the attitude of local offices of the MOJ (responsiblefor registration,
dissolution, and bans).

In February 2004 the Procuracy of Moscow’s Northern Circuit banned the
local organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses on the grounds that it was
a "threat to society," a basis for banning under the 1997 Law.
Unlike dissolution, which involves only the loss of juridical status,
a ban prohibits all of the activities of a religious community. In
June 2004 a ban on all organized activity by Moscow’s 10,000 members
of Jehovah’s Witnesses took effect, marking one of the first times
that such a ban had been implemented under the 1997 Law.

Jehovah’s Witnesses appealed the ruling, and although the judge
admitted that members did not incite violent religious hatred, he
accused the organization of "forcing families to disintegrate,
violating the equal rights of parents in the upbringing of their
children, violating the constitution and freedom of conscience,
encouraging suicide, and inciting citizens to refuse both military and
alternative service." In May 2005 authorities advised the Witnesses by
telephone that the Presidium of the Moscow City Court had dismissed a
subsequent appeal, although by the end of the reporting period,
authorities had not sent official documentation of the dismissal or an
explanation of its grounds. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)
was considering their appeal, which was submitted in 2004. The ban,
although applying only to Moscow, has had nationwide ramifications for
the 133,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses practicing in the country.

After the 2004 Moscow banning decisions, many local congregations of
Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout the country reported that landlords had
cancelled rental contracts on their buildings or were threatening to
do so. During the reporting period, the Witnesses reported a problem
similar to their June 2004 attempts to find a suitably large venue in
Sochi, when a landlord denied access to a meeting venue after FSB
pressure but later reversed the denial. In Moscow Oblast, which is a
separate jurisdiction from the city of Moscow, the Witnesses reported
a hotel conference center, a cinema, and a cultural center, each of
which previously had been used by congregations of Witnesses,
cancelled their leases.

Some landlords outside of the city of Moscow appeared to believe that
the Moscow ban obligated them to cancel rental contracts with the
Witnesses, as seen by incidents in 2005 in Roshchino (Leningrad
Oblast), Yekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk, Khabarovsk, and Ufa, where
authorities disrupted or prevented assemblies. For example, in March
2005, reportedly under pressure from his superiors, the Director of
the Palace of Culture in the village of Roshchino forced a group of
Witnesses to change the venue of a religious celebration scheduled in
the palace.

In some cases the Witnesses reported that authorities consulted with
the ROC to determine whether to approve their requests. The Witnesses
report that Father Valeriy of the Arkhangelsk Orthodox Diocese exerted
pressure on Archangelsk authorities to prevent the Witnesses from
holding a district convention scheduled for August 2005 similar to the
Church’s influence in Vladimir in 2004, in which venue use depended on
approval from a local Russian Orthodox priest.

In April 2005, the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk City Court dismissed the claim
filed by the city prosecutor to declare invalid the registration of
the local Witnesses’ organization’s title to the unfinished Kingdom
Hall in that city. The Witnesses subsequently finished construction of
the building and were ableto use it for religious services. In
February 2006 an internet agency, Regions.Ru, claimed that a group
affiliated with the Yekaterinburg ROC diocese asked the court to ban
Jehovah’s Witnesses, a "totalitarian cult," because of "their
destructive activities." In August 2005 the regional internet agency,
UralPolit.Ru, reported that the Yekaterinburg ROC diocese was taking
the Jehovah’s Witnesses to court, seeking a ban, as "what already
happened to them in Moscow." Nevertheless, the Jehovah’s Witnesses in
Yekaterinburg continuedtheir activities as usual.

In April 2006 the news agency published an article
referring to the Moscow ban as an example to be followed and claiming
that authorities could ban the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses in
Kursk. The article added that the Kursk City Council would discuss
Jehovah’s Witnesses harassment of citizens.

The Witnesses won appeals to overturn dissolution orders that lower
courts issued as in November 2004, in Primorskiy Kray, and in October
2004, in Tatarstan. Jehovah’s Witnesses cited five child custody cases
in which courts have reportedly discriminated against their religion
and in which the banning played a role. A court in Primorskiy Kray
cited the Moscow ban in reversing a lower court’s decision to award
custody of a child to its mother, a memberof Jehovah’s Witnesses. In
August 2004 the judge in a child custody case reportedly wrote to the
Moscow court that ordered the banning of the Witnesses to request a
copy of its decision. In November 2004 the father in a child custody
case referred to the Moscow banning decision as one of the factors
supporting his claim for custody. Some cases were resolved in favor of
theJehovah’s Witnesses mother.

In May 2004 the Civil Law Collegium of the Supreme Court of the
Russian Federation upheld the decision of the Bashkortostan Supreme
Court, which upheld in March 2004 a previous ruling against the local
Church of Scientology Dianetics Center for conducting illegal medical
and educational activitiesand of "harming people." Officials closed
down the initial Ufa center, but the Scientologists formed a parallel
Dianetics Center, which was operating openly; however, the negative
publicity and the local prosecutor’s ongoing investigation led to a
semi-underground existence.

There was no progress in the investigation of the January 2004
explosion in a building belonging to a congregation of unregistered
Baptists (also called "Initsiativniki") in Tula. Anonymous threats
caused the Tula Baptist community to believe the explosion was a
terrorist attack, while local law enforcement authorities attributed a
gas leak, although a gas company inspection reported no evidence of a
gas leak. The authorities have long been suspicious of the
Initsiativniki, whose complete refusal to cooperate with the Soviet
authorities led to their split in 1961 from the Union of Evangelical

Some human rights groups and religious minorities accused the
Procurator General of encouraging legal action against a number of
minority religions and for giving official support to materials that
are biased against Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the LDS Church, and
others. There were credible reports that supporters of the ROC within
the federal security services and otherlaw enforcement agencies
harassed certain minority religious groups, investigated them for
purported criminal activity and violations of tax laws, and pressured
landlords to renege on contracts. In some cases the security services
were thought to have influenced the MOJ to reject registration

Forum 18 reported that the FSB had summoned the leadership of an Old
Believers’ community in February 2004 to indicate the FSB’s preference
fora particular candidate for church leadership who lost the
election. There were no reports of further FSB contact with the group.

Some religious personnel experienced visa and customs difficulties
while entering or leaving the country, although such problems appeared
to be decreasing for some groups. Authorities either deported or
denied entry to several religious workers with valid visas during the
period covered by this report, such as the January 9, 2006,
deportation of the founder and legal/spiritual advisor of the
Unification Church in Moscow, who may not reapply for a visa for five
years, despite having lived in the country since 1990. During the
previous reporting period, the Forum 18 news service reported that
there were fifty-five cases of foreign religious workers of various
religious groups who had been barred since 1998.

In March 2005 the Government denied entry to high-ranking British and
Danish Salvation Army officials, Major Robert Garrard and Colonel Karl
Lydholm, respectively, who sought to attend a church congress. In
explaining its decision to deny entry, the Moscow city branch of the
federal MVD cited the provision of law under which foreigners may be
denied entry "in the interests of state security."

Visa problems appeared to decrease for some groups during the
reporting period. Several groups, including the LDS and Roman Catholic
churches, reported that the FSB issued most of their clergy one-year
visas. Foreign religious workers without residency permits typically
must go abroad once a year to renew their visas, usually back to their
countries of origin; some receive multiple-entry visas or are able to
extend their stays. Since the enactment of the Law on Foreigners and
subsequent amendments that took effect in 2002, some religious workers
reported difficulty in obtaining visas with terms longerthan three
months (even if they had previously held visas with one-year
validity). The curtailed validity has led some religious groups to
begin shuttling their missionaries in and out of the country every
three months, presenting a financial and spiritual hardship for such
groups. Missionaries under such restrictions must pay for travel back
to their countries of origin, often not knowing if they may return. As
a result, many missionary groups must find and maintain two workers
for every position if one is to be available for ministry while the
other is outside the country applying for a visa renewal.

Foreign clergy are particularly important for the Roman Catholic
Church in the country, since there are only a relatively small number
of ordained Russian nationals, primarily because the Soviets only
allowed two Catholic parishes and no seminaries to function in Soviet
times. The first local citizens that the church trained as Catholic
priests since the end of the Soviet regime graduated in 1999. At the
end of the reporting period, there were approximately 270 Catholic
priests working in the country, with only 10 percent of them citizens,
and approximately 220 officially registered Catholic parishes.

One of the eight Catholic clergy the Government barred since 1998,
Polish Catholic priest Father Janusz Blaut, to whom authorities
refused a visa in October 2004 after he worked in North Ossetia for
ten years, returned to the republic’s capital Vladikavkaz in autumn
2005. Foreign Catholic clergy in the Krasnodar region now hold
one-year visas rather than three-month visas that authorities issued
from mid-2002 to mid-2004. Another priest denied entry, Polish citizen
Father Edward Mackiewicz, in effect, exchanged his Rostov-on-Don
parish with that of Father Michal Nickowski in western Ukraine, who,
as a Ukrainian citizen, may remain in the country without a visa for
up to three months. Officials granted Father Jerzy Steckiewicz, leader
of the parish in Kaliningrad, a tourist visa valid only for that
region, rather than a religious visa, making it impossible for him to
travel in the rest of the country.

Otherwise, Catholic authorities reported a decrease in visa problems
for priests during the period covered by this report.

Officials annulled the visa of Moscow chief rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt
in September 2005, denied a visa to South African Protestant church
overseerHugo Van Niekerk in July 2005, and revoked the visa of German
Lutheran bishop Siegfried Springer in April 2005. All subsequently
received visas and returned.

As was the case for the previous reporting year, the LDS Church
reported few visa problems for their foreign missionaries and that
virtually all ofthem received one-year, multiple-entry visas. The LDS
Church occasionally had difficulties in securing residency permits for
missionaries but noted this varied from region to region and was not
systemic. There were few reports of religious workers of minority
religious groups having difficulties registering their visas with the
local authorities, as required by law.

In December 2003 the Unification Church reported that it appealed to
the ECHR the Government’s 2002 denial of a visa to church member
Patrick Nolan.

This case has not yet been ruled on. In 2003, Nolan lost both a trial
court case and an appeal before the Supreme Court. Missionaries with
the Swedish Evangelical Church in Krasnodar, the OMS Christian
organization, the Christian Church in Kostroma, and the Kostroma
"Family of God" Pentecostal Church, to whom officials denied visas in
past years, did not return. In some cases, officials denied visa
renewals for those living there for up to nine years.

While most conscripts seeking exemptions from military service sought
medical or student exemptions, the courts provided relief to some on
the grounds of religious conviction. The question of conscientious
objector status arose most frequently with respect to Jehovah’s
Witnesses, under the new legal regime which took effect in spring 2004
governing alternative civilian service (ACS). In February 2006
officials from the Federal Services for Labor and Employment and the
Department for the Organization and Control of Alternative Civilian
Service in Moscow reported that approximately 640 individuals were
performing ACS, 70 percent of whom were Jehovah’s Witnesses. The
Witnesseswere aware of 192 Jehovah’s Witnesses performing ACS. Members
of Jehovah’s Witnesses reported that draft commissioners more
willingly appointed them to ACS than in the past, and they did not
face the same pressure to unwillingly perform military service as they
did previously. Since ACS formation, 197 Witnesses have refused it;
there were 37 ongoing cases against Witnesses for avoidance of ACS,
and the courts convicted 41 Witnesses of evasion, and either fined
them (between 100 dollars and 1,000 dollars or approximately 2,700
rubles and 27,000 rubles, respectively) or sentenced them to perform
community service (up to 210 hours). Jehovah’s Witnesses were aware of
only two criminal cases that authorities had instigated against
Witnesses for evasion of military service. At the end of this
reporting period, authorities had imprisoned no Witnesses for failure
to perform ACS.

In Bashkortostan, the Supreme Court sustained the refusal of exemption
for Jehovah’s Witness Marsel Faizov due to his criminal
background. The ECHR accepted this case in March 2006. The Government
filed its observations onJune 27, 2006. Faizov had until September 1,
2006, to provide his reply to the Government’s observations. However,
to Jehovah’s Witnesses’ knowledge the Supreme Court of Bashkortostan
had not reconsidered the case, and it was not clear when it would do

Some religious groups reported problems with religious properties. In
March 2005 a St. Petersburg court dismissed the Witnesses’ suit in
litigation since 1999 seeking permission to remodel a building it
owned on Pogranichnika Gar’kavogo Street for use as a prayer
center. As of the end of the reporting period, the Witnesses reported
that they were selling the property and had opened another meeting

Although in 2004 authorities in Velikiy Novgorod held a meeting
favorable in its public response to Jehovah’s Witnesses’ request to
acquire land to construct a lecture hall, the city denied permission,
informing them in April 2005 that the city would not review the
denial. During the reporting period, the local authorities continued
to dismiss the congregation’s repeated requests for information on
available plots of land.

Following a March 2004 referendum in Sosnovyy Bor (Leningrad Oblast),
local authorities refused to let a Jehovah’s Witnesses community use
land to construct a place of worship. At the end of the reporting
period, the congregation had not been able to obtain permission from
the authorities to build a place of worship and was using a privately
owned building to hold their meetings.

On May 5, 2006, Mayskaya Gorka City Circuit in the Arkhangelsk region
helda public meeting to discuss a Jehovah’s Witness application for a
plot of land to build a place of worship. A large crowd gathered for
the hearing, including members of political groups and three local ROC
priests. Reportsindicate that the atmosphere was hostile, not giving
the representatives of the Witnesses the opportunity to reply to all
the questions, the majority of which were about religious beliefs
rather than plans for the land. The mob chanted "Down with the sect,"
among other verbal abuses. ROC representatives reportedly made
allegations that Jehovah’s Witnesses are forbidden to speak to their
non-Witness relatives and called it a sect that one cannot leave
voluntarily and that destroys families. At the conclusion of the
meeting, those present voted not to provide Jehovah’s Witnesses with a
plot of land.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses successful attempt to build a Kingdom Hall in
Zlatoust in the Chelyabinsk region is an example of federal
authorities intervening at the local level through the court
system. The local administration provided the Jehovah’s Witnesses with
a plot of land, but when construction began in June 2005, local
residents filed complaints with the authorities, and the prosecutor
initiated an administrative case against the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Over the next four months, local city officials claimed the building
was unlawful since the Witnesses did not adequately inform the public
of their intentions, and there was no expert environmental study of
the site. Local authorities felt the Jehovah’s Witnesses should
destroy the building at their own expense. Although the Zlatoust
prosecutor served the Jehovah’s Witnesses with a warning to cease
infringement of the 1997 Law, the Chelyabinsk Regional Arbitration
Court decided in favor of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

In January 2006 the Chelyabinsk Region Department of State
Environmental Control produced a site impact conclusion unsupportive
of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, prompting them to request a second
ecological expert study. In February 2006 the Chelyabinsk Region
Directorate of the Federal Service for Controlof Nature Management’s
expert ecological study supported the construction project. Following
this change, the arbitration court continued hearing the case.

The city administration argued that the Kingdom Hall in Zlatoust
should be declared illegal and destroyed and produced a letter from
the Chelyabinsk Region Federal Registration Service (FRS) stating that
the Jehovah’s Witnesses had violated the 1997 Law. The court dismissed
the motion as well as the city administration’s application to demand
demolition at the expense of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The city
administration did not appeal the decision.

There was no change in the situation during the reporting period for
the LDS Church, whose leaders confirmed press reports that in August
2004 a local Cossack group organized a protest against plans for the
construction of a meetinghouse in Saratov city. Muslim and ROC
leaders also spoke out against the construction. Although the church
had received construction permits for the project, the city stopped
construction, and did not permit it to resume.

There was no change in the situation during the reporting period for
the LDS Church, whose leaders confirmed press reports that in August
2004 a local Cossack group organized a protest against plans for the
construction of a meetinghouse in Saratov city. Muslim and ROC leaders
also spoke out against the construction. Although the church had
received construction permits for the project, the city stopped
construction, and did not permit it to resume.

According to a May 2005 article in the Perm newspaper Permskiy
Obozrevatel, in late 2004 the Pentecostal New Testament Church in Perm
purchased the local House of Culture from a private company to house
its social and charitable activities. The purchase provoked
considerable controversy in the area, reportedly encouraged in part by
the local ROC Bishop Irinarkh, a long-time critic of Pentecostals.
The case went to an arbitration court, which ultimately recognized the
sale as legal and valid but did not issue a ruling that would bind the
owner to proceed with the registration. The Pentecostals paid 50
million rubles ($1,851,851) for the House of Culture and were using it
for their services, but they were not registered as the owners at the
end of the reporting period. According to Pastor Eduard Grabovenko,
oblast administration officials had put pressure on the owner to block
registration. On May 11, 2006, the New Testament Church filed a suit
asking the court to issue an order that would permit property rights
registration without the former owner’s cooperation.

In late May 2006 a meeting between Perm Governor Oleg Chirkunov and
the chairman of the Russian Pentecostal Union Sergey Ryakhovskiy
brought no results.

However, according to a representative of the Russian Pentecostal
Union, the problem of the building was later resolved successfully. In
April 2006 the Arbitration Court ruled in favor of the Pentecostal
community and ordered the selling party to complete the building sale;
however, the Perm Kray Committee on Culture appealed, creating at
least a month’s postponement ofthe final decision. As a result of an
appeal by some local organizations to return the House of Culture to
the administration in exchange for another building, the Pentecostal
community agreed, and the problem became one of finding an appropriate
new building for them.

In May 2006 the Moscow Arbitration Court decided in favor of the
Charismatic Kingdom of God Church, in a suit that the Federal Property
Agency filed in December 2005 asking the court to obtain on demand its
"illegally occupied" property in the capital. According to the suit,
the privatized factory, which sold its former social center and sports
hall to the church in December 1997, had no right to do so "since the
owner of the building =80¦ is the Russian Federation." In its decision
the court said that the Government had no ownership rights over the
property, that the church possessed a valid state certificate
registering its rights to the property, and that the deadline for
legal challenges–three years from the point of sale–had in any case
long expired.

Contrary to previous reports, the Voronezh Lutheran Community reported
it had been discussing with local ROC representatives the return of
their church building, although it was expected that this process
would take considerable time to complete.

Religious news sources claimed that authorities acting on behalf of
the ROC sometimes prevented Orthodox churches not belonging to the
ROC, including the True Orthodox, from obtaining or maintaining
buildings for worship. In April 2005 the court ordered the Church of
St. Olga in Zheleznovodsk, which the Russian Orthodox Autonomous
Church (ROAC) first registered in 1944 at the same address,
transferred to the authority of the ROC Diocese of Stavropol despite
the ROAC congregation’s renovation and reconstruction of the building
at the same site. Cossacks implemented the decision in April 2006,
which forced the ROAC to conduct its Easter service outside while the
church building stood empty of parishioners, since the local community
belongs to the ROAC, not the ROC. The protesting of the church
transfer and informing the international community led to the beating
of Metropolitan Valentine (see the Abuse section) as well as threats
to the ROAC clergy.

On June 2, 2006, media and Hare Krishna representatives reported that
Moscow City authorities approved the allotment of land for the
construction of a Krishna temple. Reports indicated that the promise
was part of a joint statement by the Mayor of Moscow and the Delhi
Chief Minister, who hoped to enhance trade and economic
cooperation. Moscow’s estimated 10,000 Hare Krishna devotees shared
their temple with at least 5,000 Indians, Sri Lankans, Nepalese, and
Mauritians of other Hindu denominations. This followed the Moscow
authorities’ sudden October 7, 2005, withdrawal of permission for the
new temple’s construction. The Hare Krishna community was left, until
the recent accord between the two city governments, using temporary
accommodation on the construction site. Having spent more than $74,
074 (two million rubles) onthe project and approved an architectural
design with considerable difficulty due to its distinctiveness from
the surrounding buildings on Leningradskiy Prospekt, the Hare Krishna
devotees subsequently turned to Moscow’s Arbitration Court.

The status of the appeal remained unclear in light of the accord, but
while their appeal was being heard, the community cannot be evicted
from the site, even though Moscow’s land committee ordered it to leave
in January 2006. In withdrawing their permission, the city authorities
cited paperwork errors involving the terms of land usage.

Already demolished as part of a municipal building program, the Hare
Krishna community’s previous Moscow temple premises were a gift in
1989 as part of the confession’s rehabilitation in the late Soviet
period. (In the early 1980s the Soviets incarcerated approximately
fifty of its members in prisons and psychiatric institutions.)
Authorities offered the current site as compensation for the
demolition of the previous temple. They have permission to remain on
their current site until ready to move to the new location. The
question of architecture remained a concern at any site. On November
30, 2005, Interfax reported that Russian Orthodox Archbishop Nikon
(Vasyukov) of Ufaand Sterlitamak asked Mayor Luzhkov not to allow the
construction of the temple and used disrespectful language about the
Hindu religion.

Rinchenling, a 200-strong community following the Dzogchen tradition
within Tibetan Buddhism, lost its Moscow city center premises in 2004
due to a municipal construction project. Unlike the Hare Krishna
community, city authorities did not offer them compensation, as there
was no provision forit in their 1997 rental contract. In January 2005
Rinchenling also closed its Kunsangar retreat center in Moscow
region. The group’s Tibetan teacher, Chogyal Namkai Norbu, had told
the group to sell the retreat center due to the negative influence of
local Orthodox. Rinchenling was planning to set up a retreat center in

The Unification Church reported difficulties in establishing a
Eurasian Church Center in Moscow to coordinate church activities in
the region. On June 19, 2006, ORT-TV aired a sensational television
program, The Order of Moon: A Special Investigative Report, where the
Government appeared to be laying the groundwork for actions against
the Church. This follows security services’ actions against the
founder of the Moscow congregation and legal and spiritual advisor, a
U.S. citizen living in Moscow since 1990. On December 31, 2005, the
main immigration office summoned him and gave him ten days to leave
the country, banning his reapplication for five years. The FSB
reportedly sent eight men to watch him during the remaining time,
preventing him taking the actions necessary to remain in the country
and escorting him onto the plane on January 9, 2006. The Church
planned to construct the center on property owned by an NGO affiliated
with the Reverend Moon. In April 2005 a local prosecutor ordered
church officials to turn over for inspection documents relating to the
property after the local administration received complaints from local
citizens that a "totalitarian sect" was using the building. Eight
police officers reportedly visited the property the next day in order
to "investigate criminal activity."

According to Forum 18, in January 2006 the Evangelical Christian
Missionary Union, which embraces fifty-four registered churches
throughout the southern part of the country, reported that the
municipal authorities in the town of Tikhoretsk (Krasnodar Kray) had
refused to renew a rental contract with its congregation there. The
150-strong Path to God Church had rented its basement premises for the
previous seven years and renovated them, according to the Union, but
was unable to find alternative premises in the town and thus to meet
as a single congregation.

Protestants in Voronezh and elsewhere often suspected local Orthodox
clergy to be instrumental in blocking their construction plans. They
cited as an example Saratov’s construction committee’s refusal to
grant the Word of Life Pentecostal Church permission to advertise its
presence on the outside wall of its own premises. In a letter dated
May 4, 2005, chief architect Vladimir Virich confirmed as much,
referring to an April 19, 2005, letter from the Saratov diocese of the
Russian Orthodox Church and indicating that the Architectural
Committee could not agree to the sign because of the letter.

State authorities gave Muslims meeting at Mosque Number 34 on the
outskirts of Astrakhan until May 1, 2006, the option to demolish their
worship building themselves or face its destruction, after the
Astrakhan Oblast Court denied an April 17, 2006, appeal to suspend the
demolition of the mosque for three months. At the end of the reporting
period, the mosque remained standing.

The congregation had already lost a previous March 1 Astrakhan Oblast
Court appeal against a January 23, 2006, decision in which Astrakhan’s
Soviet District Court agreed with the municipal administration that
authorities should remove the mosque–a disused silage tower and
two-storey annex on the roadto the city’s airport–as it qualified as
"unauthorized construction."

The mosque congregation purchased the 6,450 square-foot site in 1998,
and Astrakhan authorities gave them permission to carry out the
preliminary construction work of a new mosque building during the
first half of 2001. However, the court noted that they did not start
until almost four years later, and that the Muslim community’s
refurbishment and extension of the disused silage tower was not on the
construction plan the city’s architectural department approved. The
court also ruled that they must remove the currently existing
construction work for the new mosque, begun in 2005 after the
community had collected sufficient funds.

Muslim sources were skeptical about the reasons given for the
demolition order. Their situation abruptly changed, they claim,
following a visit by President Putin to Astrakhan in August 2005, when
he reportedly remarked to the regional governor and mayor that they
had not chosen a good place for a mosque.

When authorities denied them permission to hold a February 20
demonstration outside Astrakhan’s municipal administration building,
Muslim activists gathered morse than 1,000 signatures protesting the
demolition order. They intended to appeal to the supreme court,
although it was not heard before the May 1 deadline. Per the Sova
Center, a human rights NGO, the court ruling to demolish the mosque
had not been executed as of June 30, 2006.

Citizens in Kaliningrad protested against the construction of a
mosque, which the local Muslim community had been requesting since
1993. The ROC was involved in the talks to allow construction. While
he claimed not to be against the mosque’s construction, the local ROC
bishop insisted that a small mosque rather than a large Muslim
cultural center should be built in the suburbs, proportional to the
small number of Muslims living in Kaliningrad. The Sova Center
reported that as of August 17, 2005, the Commission on Economic Policy
and Municipal Property of the Kaliningrad City Council allowed the
Kaliningrad Muslim organization to use several buildings free of
charge. The Muslims planned to open a mosque there.

The NGO Sova Center reported at the end of the reporting period that
the Vladimir Muslim community still was not able to obtain public land
to build a mosque. In 2004, despite interference from the Vladimir
city authorities, the congregation constructed a mosque on private
land near a house that community members bought and used as a
temporary prayer house. The mosque was calleda community house and was
used by the local community of Muslims even though it did not have
room for all 25,000 members. The authorities had not met the request
for a land spot for a mosque, but the negotiations were continuing.

The mayor’s office continued to deny authorization to Muslims in the
Krasnodar Kray to build a new mosque in the city of Sochi, even though
the organization’s current rented premises barely accommodated the
approximately thirty members who attended Friday prayers. According to
Sova, officials allotted land several times but did not authorize
construction because of technical problems, or they ultimately sold
the land to other people. According to the Krasnodar Kray Department
for Relations with Public Associations and Religious Organizations and
Monitoring of Migration Processes, authorities can allocate land for a
mosque only after a public opinion survey indicates that the proposed
location would not cause a "conflict situation."

Restitution of religious property seized by the Communist government
remained an issue. Although authorities have returned many properties
usedfor religious services, including churches, synagogues, and
mosques, all four traditional religions continued to pursue
restitution cases.

The ROC appeared to have had greater success reclaiming
prerevolutionary property than other groups, although it still had
disputed property claims. The ROC had a number of restitution claims
in Yekaterinburg. According to the ROC diocese spokesman, the ROC
does not lay claim to the 1905 Square but it would like to see the
Orthodox cathedral that once stood there rebuilt. The issue was not
discussed because the ROC understood how complicated and costly it
would be to pull down the existing structures to make room for a

Property claims are a complicated subject, according to the ROC
spokesman, since there was no separation between church and state
before the revolution.

Most of the Orthodox church buildings in Sverdlovsk Oblast that were
returned to the ROC were not considered ROC property; the ROC had no
property rights to them and is only entitled to use these buildings,
so that, at least theoretically, it could be evicted. The ROC fully
owned only newly built churches.

In fact, the very historical importance of a building can impede its
return to previous owners, as the Government views many
prerevolutionary buildings as cultural treasures and runs them as
museums, such as the Kremlin cathedrals, St. Petersburg’s Peter and
Paul Cathedral, and most of Novgorod’s medieval churches. Since 1995
the Ministry of Culture has determined which historical and cultural
monuments religious organizations must share with the state.

The Moscow City Duma passed a law in March 2004 returning
approximately $27,500 (approximately 742,500 rubles) to the ROC as
retroactive property tax benefits.

Forum 18 reported that an Old Believer community in Samara was still
struggling to obtain restitution of a prerevolutionary
church. Municipal officials told the community that it should first
ascertain the position of the ROCon restitution. In April 2006, for
the first time in seventy-five years, the community celebrated Easter
in the church, even though the municipality had not yet officially
returned the church to the community.

The Roman Catholic Community reported forty-four disputed properties,
most of which they would use for religious services. The Catholic
Church was not successful in achieving restitution of the Saint Peter
and Saint Paul Cathedral in Moscow. The office of an oil company
occupied the cathedral, and the Catholic parish met in a former disco
hall because it did not expect the company to vacate the
premises. According to the Catholic Church, it was making progress
towards building a new church in Moscow to replace the Saint Peter and
Saint Paul Cathedral. In Vologda, Catholic authorities had not
succeeded in–and did not anticipate–achieving restitution of a
prerevolutionary church that housed a restaurant. In 2005 the local
authorities in Tula returned a building to the local Catholic parish.

According to a March 2004 statement from the Council of Muslim
Religious Organizations in Stavropol City, the region’s arbitration
court finally refused to hear a case set to decide the issue of
whether or not federal authorities could require Stavropol authorities
to return a mosque that had been converted to a city art gallery back
to the Muslim community–after seven months of preliminary
deliberations–on the grounds that it was "outside its competency."
The fact that authorities lack of action forced the local Muslim
community to file suit with the court in the first place, explains the
statement, because the Stavropol Kray authorities repeatedly refused
to acknowledge receipt of a 1999 instruction from the federal
Ministries of Culture and State Property demanding the return of the
former mosque to local Muslims.

Muslims in Beslan have appealed to the Presidential Council for
Cooperation with Religious Associations to return an historic mosque
to the Muslim community. The Cathedral Mosque, built in 1906 by the
decree of Tsar Nicholas II, was occupied by a vodka-bottling plant and
a bottle washing shop, and was soon to be modified to accommodate a
car wash. The North Ossetian administration alleged that there was
nowhere to move the plant, but the republic’s Muslim Council stated
that locating a factory in a mosque was illegal and that there were
several facilities in the town to accommodate the factory.

The Jewish community was still seeking the return of a number of
synagogues and cultural and religious artifacts. The FJC reported that
federal officials had been cooperative in the community’s efforts to
seek restitution of former synagogues, as had some regional officials,
although some Jews asserted that the Russian Federation has returned
only a small portion of the total properties the Soviets confiscated
under Soviet rule. In December 2004 themayor of Sochi gave the Jewish
community a parcel of land on which to construct a synagogue and
community center to replace the small structure in use.

According to the chief rabbi of Sochi Arye Edelcopf, the community was
collecting money for the construction of the synagogue which was to
begin within a few months. Chabad Lubavitch still sought return of the
Schneerson Collection, revered religious books and documents of the
Lubavitcher rebbes.

Some local governments prevented religious groups from using venues
suitable for large gatherings such as cinemas and government
facilities. In Arkhangelsk, Jehovah’s Witnesses originally signed a
contract to use premises, from August 5-7, 2005, belonging to the
Rossiya Physical Education and Sports Trade Union Society for a large
congress, but received notice from the society’s director three days
before the congress was to take place that the building would not be
available due to an incomplete sewage system. Failing to win an
arbitration court challenge to this unilateral cancellation of the
contract, the Jehovah’s Witnesses then signed two further contracts
with smaller venues, but the director of one cancelled the agreement
later the same day.

On August 3, 2005, two days before the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ congress,
Arkhangelsk-based weekly newspaper Pravda Severo-Zapada ran an article
detailing last year’s court ban on the Moscow community of Jehovah’s
Witnesses and likening the organization to Aum Sinrikyo, the Japanese
religious group convicted of releasing nerve gas into Tokyo’s
underground system in 1995. The newspaper labeled the ideology
totalitarian and called for an investigation by the FSB.

When the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ congress commenced on August 5, 2005 at
the third venue, the Solombala Arts Center, the police demanded that
all 714 delegates leave the building because of an alleged terrorist
threat. Subsequently, a fire inspector drew up an official order
closing the building. As a result, the Witnesses reduced the three-day
program to a partial one-day session held on August 5, 2005. Jehovah’s
Witnesses filed a complaint with the prosecutor’s office to open a
criminal case against those responsible for the breakup of the
convention; however, the prosecutor’s office dismissed the complaint.

Officials also significantly disrupted two other Jehovah’s Witnesses’
regional congresses during the reporting period in the southern Urals
cityof Orenburg, where a conference was scheduled for August 12-14,
2005 and in Kokhma (Ivanovo region) for a July 22-24, 2005 congress in
Rekord Stadium.

A Jehovah’s Witnesses’ convention planned for July 8-10, 2005 in
Yekaterinburg with the participation of more than 5,000 Witnesses did
not take place because of the reported July 4, 2005 intervention of an
Orthodox priest who wrote a letter to the owner of the stadium
demanding that the convention not proceed. On July 7 the director of
the stadium claimed repair work should proceed instead and canceled
the contract. Jehovah’s Witnesses attempted to resolve the crisis by
contacting officials, including filing a claim with the Yekaterinburg
Prosecutor’s Office to initiate a criminal case against the priest for
disrupting the lawful activity of a religious organization. On
August31, Jehovah’s Witnesses sent an inquiry on the results of the
investigation to the prosecutor’s office, which on September 14, 2005,
replied that the investigation was still ongoing. Nevertheless, the
Witnesses’ Easter observances in Yekaterinburg on April 12, 2006,
proceeded without official or community disruption for the first time
in many years.

The Church of Scientology reported that it sometimes had difficulties
getting permits for large events in Moscow.

The Caucasian Knot website reported in March 2006 that law enforcement
officials in Kabardino-Balkaria continued to monitor children in
schools who displayed observant Muslim customs, after the phrase
"Jihad is freedom" appeared on the wall in a Nalchik
school. Reportedly they kept lists of students who said Muslim
prayers, had Muslim middle names, or who sent clips with Islamic
themes through their mobile phones.

Abuses of Religious Freedom

On October 13, 2005, following ROAC complaints about the awarding of

Olga’s Church to the ROC, three armed men broke into the home of
Metropolitan Valentine of Suzdal and Vladimir, the head of the
ROAC. The attack was obviously well planned and timed to take
advantage of a short period when he was alone. The attackers knocked
him unconscious and beat him severely, particularly on his feet, from
which they removed the bandages to inflict more harm because of his
diabetic condition. The men rolled him up in a rug to be carried out
of the house, but the unexpected arrival of another cleric surprised
the attackers and they dropped the Metropolitan. He spent six months
in the hospital recovering from injuries sustained and the amputation
of part of his foot. The FSB reportedly interrogated and threatened
several ROAC clergy and members following this incident.

In April 2005, a group of masked paramilitary troops stormed the Work
of Faith Church in Izhevsk, Udmurtia, during an evening worship
service, led worshippers outside and searched them without a search
warrant; the troops threatened some of the women with rape and
detained forty-six persons somefor as long as twenty four hours. In
response to several complaints (and international attention), local
authorities conducted an investigation of the Izhevsk incident. They
said their investigation uncovered that the police had committed some
procedural irregularities while the detainees were in custody, that
officials had given a warning to the district police chief because of
the irregularities, had reprimanded two other police officials, and
opened a criminal investigation into the allegation that the police
beat one of the detainees.

Officials dropped administrative charges against most, if not all, of
the detainees.

On the evening of April 12, 2006, the Lyublino Police Department of
Moscow disrupted a religious meeting of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The
commemoration ofthe death of Christ, also known as the Lord’s Evening
Meal, is the most important religious observance for Jehovah’s
Witnesses. The chief of the Lyublino Police Department, Yevgeniy
Kulikov, ordered the congregation to disperse.

According to Jehovah’s Witnesses, police detained fourteen male
leaders ofthe congregation, taking their passports. Armed officers of
the Special Police Forces (OMON) took them to the Lyublino police
station where police interrogated them for up to four hours before
releasing them at one-thirty a.m. Police refused to provide them with
written reasons for their detention and reportedly not only physically
assaulted their attorney when he went to the police station to assist
them but also threatened him at knife-point not to file a
complaint. Both the police and Jehovah’s Witnesses filed complaints
with the prosecutor’s office. The Jehovah’s Witnesses also filed a
court action, and officials set the hearing for May 2006. After
several adjournments, on June 15, 2006, the judge finally ruled that
the detention of the plaintiffs was unlawful, but dismissed the
remainder of the claim, failing to find unlawful the fact that police
had disrupted the religious service. The decision referred to the
absence of the permission of the authorities to carry out the
meeting,in accordance with the Federal Law on Assemblies, Rallies,
Processions, Demonstrations, and Pickets. Jehovah’s Witnesses filed an
appeal on June 30 with the Moscow City Court because the law does not
apply to religious groups or associations.

Of the 23 different locations in Moscow used by some 17,000 of
Jehovah’s Witnesses to commemorate the death of Christ, the Lyublino
District was the only place where the observance was disrupted by
police intervention. Similar services were held throughout the country
without interference. In 2005 the total number who attended services
was approximately 267,000.

In early April 2006 persons repeatedly vandalized the Kingdom Hall and
its surrounding property in Kamyshin in the Volgograd region. Police
did not take any action, saying that the acts did not constitute a
crime. In November 2005, unidentified persons fired thirty shots into
the Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall in Voskresensk, but hit no
one. Police opened a criminal casebut closed it on January 31, 2006,
because they could not identify the perpetrators.

In August 2004, the Khabarovsk newspaper Amurskiy Meridian reported
that in March of that year police in Khabarovsk detained and beat
Sergey Sofrin, a local Jewish businessman, repeatedly insulting him
with religious epithets. At the end of the reporting period, contacts
at the newspaper reported that although officials conducted an
investigation of the incident, they had not disciplined the police
involved yet.

Authorities periodically arrested suspected members of the banned
Islamic political movement, Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT), on the grounds that
they conducted extremist and terrorist activities. In April 2006 a
Moscow court convicted Sardorbek Siddikov and sentenced him to one
year in jail for membership inHT. On September 8, 2005, the city court
of Nizhnevartovsk, gave a four-year suspended prison term to Eduard
Khusainov, who was believed to have headedthe lo cal HT
group. Officials reportedly found extremist propaganda in his
apartment. Khusainov was charged with organizing the activities of an
extremist organization and with "involving others in committing
terrorist crimes or otherwise abetting such crimes."

On October 3, 2005, the Tobolsk Court found nine members of the local
HT branch guilty on all charges of extremism brought against
them. Three of the accused–local leaders Marat Saybatalov, Dmitriy
Petrichenko, and Rail Valitov–were sentenced to prison terms ranging
from five and one-half to six years.

Other members were sentenced to various terms from twelve months to
five and one-half years.

According to Sova, police broke up an HT group in Chelyabinsk in March
2005 and detained one of its members, Rinat Galiullin. The criminal
case against Rinat Galiullin was initiated on March 15, 2005. He was
arrested and tried in September-November 2005. The court passed a
verdict of a one-year suspended sentence. Also, Galiullin won a suit
against a local newspaper for spreading information alleging that he
had been plotting a riot, stockpiled weapons, and encouraged people to
sign a contract with Al Qaeda. The HT group, to which Galiullin
allegedly belonged, was not found. Sova also reported that since
December 2004, the authorities in Tatarstan initiated criminal cases
on charges of extremism and terrorism against alleged members of
radical organizations, including HT and Islamic Jamaat. According to
Sova, the Islamic Jamaat case was being heard in court in
Tatarstan. Authorities charged twenty-three persons. The preliminary
investigation was over, and five young men were being tried in
court. Later, a trial for other members will take place. Among the
charges are murder and planning hostile activities. In the
authorities’ case against the seven alleged HT members, the
investigation cleared one of them, but the other six remain
untried. In May 2005 authorities also brought to trial for alleged HT
membership the two individuals who police in Izhevsk detained in
December 2004. In June 2005, they were convicted each to one year of
parole. At the end of the reporting period, the courts had convicted
forty-six Muslims, twenty-nine of whom were in prison, for membership
in Hizb-ut-Tahrir.

On March 31, 2006, Adygeia militia reportedly detained Muslims on
their way to Friday prayer at the mosque in the nearby village of New

According to news service IA Regnum, before the start of midday
prayers, Special Forces of the Adygeia MVD blocked all entrances and
exits to the village. The action was carried out by the local MVD
office for fighting organized crime together with a group from the
FSB. Muslims in Adygeia suspected that Special Forces had a list of
Muslims planning to pray in this mosque that included their license
plates. One resident reported that only Muslims were stoppedin their
vehicles by road blocks and apprehended; those who tried to leave
their cars were intimidated, and none of them were able to attend
prayer. Another source reported that Special Forces threatened to
break the legs of those who tried to leave their cars and walk to the

In Dagestan in March 2006, journalists reported that soldiers
desecrated a copy of the Qur’an while searching the house of a killed

The NGO Memorial reported government harassment of Muslims in Adygeia
starting in summer 2005. Hostile actions reported included seizing
religious literature from citizens. In one example from December 29,
2005, authorities claimed that the seizure of six books from one young
Muslim was connected to the proceedings against former imam of the
Adygeia mosque Nedzhmedin Abazia for "propaganda on the inferiority of
citizens signaled by their relations with Hinduism, Christianity, and
non-Wahabbist forms of Islam." Authorities questioned approximately
ten persons in Adygeia in connection with this case.

On October 22, 2005, in Maykop, Adygeia Republic, police officers
allegedly assaulted and apprehended a group of young Muslims,
including the Maykop mosque’s imam, as they were leaving a mosque. The
imam reported that masked policemen dragged the group to minibuses and
took them to the Interior Ministry’s Anti-Organized Crime Department,
where policemen beat and questioned them about why there were wearing
beards and observing Islamic norms of hygiene.

After a night in prison, officials took them before a judge who
ordered their immediate release.

On October 13, 2005, gunman attacked police and military facilities in
Nalchik, the capital of the southern republic of Kabardino-Balkaria in
the North Caucasus. The attack appeared to have been the result of a
combination of pressure by local authorities on independent mosques
(closure of thirty-nine of forty-six local mosques), rampant
corruption, and attempts by Chechen separatists to expand their war
against the Government. It was known that nearly all of the several
hundred militants killed during the violence were young untrained
Muslims protesting the local Ministry of Internal Affairs’ closure of
mosques. Government officials said they arrested more than sixty
persons on suspicion of participating in the October raids on Nalchik.
Human rights groups, in turn, claimed the number of detainees was
higher and that most of them were not responsible for the unrest. Some
sources believed that several hundred fighters were killed and that
the authorities had not returned to families the corpses of these

Human rights groups claimed that following the 2004 hostage-taking in
Beslan, police stepped up activity in the North Caucasus. Authorities
allegedly have charged with extremism increasing numbers of Muslims,
both Russian citizens and citizens of the predominately Muslim states
bordering Russia.Memorial described twenty-three cases involving more
than eighty individuals charged with extremism as "trumped-up." Of
these, the NGO Memorial reported, eighteen resulted in verdicts, only
one of which was an acquittal. Some observers said that police
harassment of Muslim clerics and alleged militants in the Republic of
Kabardino-Balkariya, including torture and the closure of all but one
of Nalchik’s mosques during the reporting period, were part of the
reason for the October 13, 2005 rebel attack on Nalchik.

According to the Sova Center, on April 19, 2005, nine female students
were arrested during their regular reading of the Qur’an in a
classroom at Kabardino-Balkariya State University. Authorities told
the students when arresting them that wearing the hijab and group
studying of the Qur’an violated university statutes. Police brought
them to Nalchik city militia headquarters, searched, interrogated, and
detained them for about eight hours. The samesource claimed that
police had detained some Muslims in Moscow mosques prior to the March
2004 elections.

There were occasional reports of short-term police detentions of
non-Muslim believers on religious grounds, but such incidents were
generally resolved quickly. For example, local police frequently
detained missionaries for brief periods throughout the country or
asked them to cease their activities, such as displaying signboards,
regardless of whether they were actually in violation of local
statutes on picketing. During the reporting period, the Jehovah’s
Witnesses in particular reported approximately fifty-five recorded
incidents, twenty-one of which took place in Moscow, in which
authorities briefly detained their members or other citizens while
conducting lawful preaching activities.

After months of demonstrations, arrests, court hearings, and time
spent in jail in June 2005, Pastor Purshaga and members of Emmanuel
Pentecostal Church in Moscow District won the right to rent land to
use for a prayer house and church office building. At the end of the
reporting period, authorities had not decided about another piece of
land at issue.

In September 2004, an Initsiativniki prayer house in Lyubuchany,
Chekhov District, Moscow Oblast, burned down. In the summer preceding
the fire, security agencies, including local police and FSB officers,
intimidated several thousand participants at an open-air gathering
sponsored by the church. Press reports claimed that eyewitnesses
placed some of the same law enforcement personnel at the church site
in September minutes before the fire broke out.

Although the official investigation attributed the fire to arson,
authorities had charged no one in the incident by the end of the
reporting period.

There were no reports of religious prisoners or detainees in the
country; however, there were increasing NGO reports of short-term
detentions, especially in the North Caucasus.

Forced Religious Conversion

There were no reports of forced religious conversion, including of
minor U.S. citizens abducted or illegally removed from the United
States, or of the refusal to allow such citizens to be returned to the
United States.

Anti-Semitic Acts

Explicit, racially motivated violent attacks against Jews were fairly
rare in the context of rapidly growing racist violence in the country,
especially perpetrated by skinheads targeting identifiable ethnic
groups. There were a series of attacks around a Moscow synagogue in
Maryina Roscha in the winter of 2004-05. In particular, the attackers
beat Rabbi Alexander Lakshin.

Following the attack against the rabbi, police promptly found the
perpetrators; they were prosecuted and convicted, and attacks against
Jews in the neighborhood stopped. There were three known explicit
anti-Semitic violent attacks and four incidents of public insults and
threats in 2005, which was down from 2004.

A notable exception was on January 11, 2006, in Moscow, when
twenty-year-old Alexander Koptsev attacked worshipers in the Chabad
synagogue with a knife, wounding eight people–among them citizens of
Russia, Israel, Tajikistan, and the United States. On March 27, 2006,
the Moscow City Court sentenced Koptsev to thirteen years’
imprisonment, ordering him to undergo mandatory psychiatric
treatment. The court dropped the charges of provoking interethnic
hatred but left the charge of attempted murder of two or more persons
for reasons of ethnic enmity. The lawyers of the victims filed an
appeal since the prosecutor had dropped the charges of inciting ethnic
hate; Koptsev’s lawyers also filed an appeal due to his mental illness
and the fact that none of the victims were killed or disabled. On June
20, 2006, the Supreme Court overturned the verdict on the grounds that
the charges had not referred to the incitement of racial and religious
hatred and ordered a new trial in a different court. Both President
Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov publicly condemnedthis attack.

On January 13, 2006, a local student made a copy-cat attack on a
synagogue in Rostov-on-Don. He entered the synagogue attempting to
attack worshippers, but security guards stopped him before he could
harm anyone. Although authorities charged him with hooliganism, the
court declared him mentally unfit to stand trial. On June 9, 2006, a
court in Rostov-on-Don ruled that he undergo psychiatric treatment.

According to the NGO Moscow Bureau of Human Rights (MBHR), the
ultranationalist and anti-Semitic Russian National Unity (RNE)
paramilitary organization continued to propagate hostility toward Jews
and non-Orthodox Christians. The RNE appeared to have lost political
influence in some regions since its peak in 1998, but the organization
maintained high levels of activity in other regions, such as
Voronezh. Sova Center noted in its 2005 report that RNE activities had
been mostly reduced to picketing and distributing leaflets.

On November 6, 2005, Basmannyy District Court of Moscow convicted an
RNE activist for propaganda and public demonstration of Nazi
attributes and symbols and sentenced him to five days of detention
under the Administrative Code.

Officials detained the activist on November 4, 2005 among twelve RNE
members who participated in a so-called "Right March."

According to an FJC report published in June 2005, a court in Velikiy
Novgorod convicted three RNE members of inciting ethnic and religious
hatred, and sentenced the leader of the RNE cell to four years in
prison, and two others to two and three years. According to the Sova
Center, in April 2005, authorities convicted two RNE members from
Bryansk Oblast and gave them suspended sentences on charges of
inciting racial hatred after distributing RNE leaflets and videos in
Orel. After authorities announced the verdict, RNE activities in Orel
noticeably intensified, and over thirty RNE members held a picketthe
day the verdict was announced, with RNE members from Bryansk, Moscow
Region, and Belgorod coming to support their "comrades." On May 8,
2005 three RNE members distributed nationalistic leaflets in downtown

In October 2005 the MOJ registered the interregional social movement
National Sovereign Way of Russia (NDPR). The organization is the
successorof the National Sovereign Party of Russia (which has not been
able to register asa political party) and preserved its abbreviation
NDPR as well as the party’s anti-Semitic, nationalistic ideology. In
2005 officials denied the St. Petersburg branch registration,
although the organization tried to get registration based on the same
documents as the Moscow branch.

Some NDPR branches in regions participated in official events that the
local authorities organized. For instance, NDPR participated in a May
1, 2006 communist meeting in Moscow. NDPR also participated in May 1,
2006 events in St. Petersburg. In the summer of 2005, in
St. Petersburg, NDPR participated in the events of the local
legislative assembly twice. On July 19, 2005, the Altay NDPR branch
participated in a rally of local trade unions and distributed its
leaflets, although local authorities in attendance tried to halt it;
local TV broadcast the event. At a small February 2005 rally in
Moscow, NDPR members distributed anti-Semitic publications and
engaged in anti-Semitic hate speech, and in 2004, activists
distributed their newspaper and leaflets in downtown Kostroma.

The primary targets of skinheads were foreigners and individuals from
the North Caucasus, but they expressed anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic
sentimentsas well.

The MBHR estimated more than 50,000 skinheads and 15,000 members of
extremist organizations were acting in the country, who engage in
approximately 300 incidents on ethnic hate grounds take place
annually. However, in recent years there were at most only five
indictments annually. MBHR reported that during the period from
January to May 2006, officials registered over 100 skinhead attacks,
killing 17 people and injuring approximately 130. No statistics on the
number of skinheads in particular towns was available, but according
to MBHR, among the cities where skinheads were especially active in
2006, were Moscow, St.Petersburg, Kostroma, Volzhsk, Voronezh Oblast,
Tula Oblast, Cheboksary, Vladivostok, Yekaterinburg, Krasnoyarsk,
Elista, Kaluga, Nizhniy Novgorod, Petrozavodsk, Ryazan, and
Surgut. Authorities combined thirteen criminal cases of
ethnic-extremist motivation that took place in St. Petersburg and
Leningrad Oblast from 2003-2006 into one case for trial. MBHR noted
that the skinhead movement continues to expand, spreading from major
regional centers to small towns and settlements. In December 2005
skinheads appeared in the small settlement of Chagoda, Vologda region.

In connection with the April 2004 attack in Voronezh on human rights
activist and anti-Semitism monitor Aleksey Kozlov, the Anti-Defamation
League (ADL) reported that authorities arrested two young skinheads
shortly thereafter and treated the attack as a misdemeanor unworthy of
prosecution and closed the case.

At least two demonstrations took place in Moscow on February 23, 2006,
the Defenders of the Fatherland holiday. Participants displayed racist
placards with slogans such as "Russia for ethnic Russians" and chanted
racist slogans.

According to reports, prominent members and leaders of the Rodina and
Communist political parties participated in one of the
demonstrations. Authorities gave administrative sanctions (fines and
up to five days’ administrative arrest for carrying a flag with a
swastika) to the organizers of the march and a few participants
belonging to RNE; officials did not charge anyone with incitement to
racial hatred under Article 282 of the Criminal Code in connection
with the march. In response to an appeal by the Moscow Anti-Fascist
Center NGO, a court ruled on April 11, 2006, that the organizers had
not violatedany criminal laws.

On November 4, 2005, the Day of National Unity, in Moscow, the
Movement against Illegal Immigration and other organizations organized
a march of approximately one thousand persons, with openly racist
slogans against migrants and Jews, entitled "Russia against the

Vandals desecrated Jewish cemeteries during the reporting
period. Officials reported desecration in Omsk (April 15, 2006), the
settlement of Khokhryaki near Izhevsk (November 2005), and Kostroma
(October 2005). On October 16, 2005, vandals toppled and broke at
least fifty tombstones, and on October 6, 2005, vandals desecrated
approximately seventy Jewish graves in St. Petersburg.

Vandals also desecrated graves in Velikiye Luki (September 20, 2005),
Tambov (August 29 and August 31, 2005), and Tver (August 6,
2005). Earlier in 2005, vandals desecrated Jewish cemeteries in Kazan,
Moscow, Saratov, Petrozavodsk, Makhachkala, Irkutsk, and
St. Petersburg. In late May 2005, vandals painted swastikas on
twenty-six Jewish tombstones in the Jewish section of Kazan’s Arskoye
Cemetery. The FJC reported that the authorities were investigating the
incident as a hate crime and the Kazan City Council issued a statement
condemning the attack. In May 2005 vandals desecrated Jewish graves at
the Vostryakovskoye Cemetery, near Moscow; the case was being treated
as a hate crime rather than simple "hooliganism." The Jewish cemetery
in Petrozavodsk was vandalized at least three times in 2004; a
criminal investigation failed to identify the perpetrators.

One of the most large-scale desecrations occurred in St. Petersburg in
December 2004, when vandals damaged approximately one-hundred graves
at the St. Petersburg Preobrazhenskoye (Jewish) Cemetery. In the
aftermath of the desecration, St. Petersburg Governor Valentina
Matviyenko met with the city’s Chief Rabbi Menachem-Mendel Pewsner,
and promised a serious investigation of the crime. Officials arrested
members of a gang but reportedly, since its members were minors, the
case was either dropped or the perpetrators received insignificant

Sometimes authorities prosecuted the perpetrators as in January 2005,
when a court in Velikiy Novgorod issued a three-year prison term for
planting a fake explosive device near the city’s synagogue in 2003,
and when authorities sentenced two adults and one minor to two years’
probation for a 2004 desecration in Kaluga Kray.

Vandals desecrated several synagogues and Jewish community centers
during the reporting period. In June 2006, officials reported that a
man entered a Jewish cultural center in the Urals city of
Yekaterinburg, and stabbed the door of the synagogue ten times with a
knife. Security guards caught him and had police arrest him.
According to a report from the UCSJ, a May 18, 2006, article in the
local newspaper "Saratovskaya Oblastnaya Gazeta" reported that the
courts sentenced a 20-year-old man with a two-year suspended sentence
for painting swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans on the walls of the
Saratov Jewish center to which he had confessed when police caught him
doing the same thing to a parked car. Unknown assailants have also
thrown rocks at the center and its occupants through the
windows. Local police allegedly ignored the Jewish community’s
complaints until the swastika-painting incident.

In April 2006, at the Orenburg synagogue, a group of young men threw
stones, kicked the synagogue doors, shouted anti-Semitic slogans, and
hit windows with a metal bar. Police detained a fifteen-year-old boy
near the synagogue, while others escaped. Officials opened criminal
proceedings on charges of hooliganism, not extremism, but since the
boy was a minor, he could not face criminal punishment. In March 2006
vandals used paint to draw a swastika on the fence in front of the
main entrance of the Jewish community center and the region’s first
synagogue under construction in Lipetsk. Vandals painted anti-Semitic
insults and swastikas on the walls of synagogues in Borovichy(October
5, 2005) and Nizhniy Novgorod (September 5, 2005) similar to incidents
in Vladimir (June 3, 2005).

In March 2006 a youth again vandalized the Jewish center in Penza,
breaking one of its windows with a brick. Vandals had attacked this
building and the Jewish center in Taganrog on a number of previous
occasions in 2005 and 2004.

In October 2004, congregants stopped a group of skinheads from
entering the synagogue in Penza. Later that day, approximately forty
people armed with chains and iron clubs approached the
synagogue. Worshipers locked themselves inside and called the police
who detained two or three of the perpetratorsand forced them to repair
the damage.

These incidents are similar to those reported for earlier reporting
periods in Samara, Syktyvkar (Komi Republic), Petrozavodsk (Republic
of Karelia) in March 2005 and Perovo, Moscow Oblast, in February 2005;
in 2004 in Baltiisk, Kaliningrad Oblast, and in the city of
Kaliningrad. In November 2004, on the anniversary of Kristallnacht,
unknown individuals scrawled anti-Semitic graffiti on the headquarters
of the Moscow-based "Holocaust Foundation."

In May 2005 a fire which authorities considered a case of arson
destroyed the historic synagogue of Malakhovka in the outskirts of
Moscow. Several days earlier, there had been a burglary at the
synagogue. The FJC reported that officials suspected the same persons
of both crimes and raised the possibility that they may have set the
synagogue fire to destroy evidence related to the burglary, rather
than as a hate crime. Authorities detained the main suspect, Andrei
Terekhov, on May 14 after he broke into a Christian churchin
Malakhovka. On December 5, 2005, the trial started; the court
ultimately convicted him of setting the fire in order to cover
evidence of his robbery and sentenced him to five years in prison and
a fine. The Malakhovka Jewish community was preparing to build a
community center and a new synagogue at the same location. While the
court required Terekhov to compensate for the arson, it was unlikely
that he would be able to make any financial contribution.

The Jewish community center in the Moscow suburb of Saltykovka was hit
by arson in January and February 2005. Investigators caught the man
who set the arson fire; he denied being an anti-Semite and said that
he could not explain his motivation for the arson. The prosecutors
found no criminal substance in his actions and closed the
case. Vandals desecrated the synagogue in the Perovo district of
Moscow in January 2005 and again in February 2005.

Authorities arrested two students for posting Nazi posters in
Petrozavodsk in April 2005, on the anniversary of Hitler’s birthday.
Reports indicate that the court punished them in accordance with the
administrative code.

There were no developments in the 2004 cases of the beating of
Ulyanovsk Jewish youth leader Aleksandr Golynsky and the skinhead
vandalism of the Ulyanovsk Jewish Center. The FJC reported that the
police released the suspects that community members had detained and
delivered to them. There also wereno developments in connection with
the 2004 attack on the synagogue in Chelyabinsk.

A number of small, radical-nationalist newspapers that print
anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, and xenophobic articles, many of which
appear to violate the law against extremism, were readily available
throughout the country. Although the production of this illegal
material continued, authorities generally did not prosecute the
publishers, although there were some noted recent exceptions described
below. The estimated number of xenophobic publications exceeded one
hundred; local chapters of the NDPR sponsored many of them. The larger
anti-Semitic publications, such as Russkaya Pravda, Vityaz, and
Peresvet, were easily available in many Moscow metro stations. Some
NGOs claimed that the same local authorities that refused to take
action against offenders ownedor managed many of these
publications. In addition, there were at least eighty websites in the
country dedicated to distributing anti-Semitic propaganda.

On April, 4, 2006, St. Petersburg prosecutor Sergey Zaitsev rescinded
the decision of his deputy, Alexandr Korsunov, who refused to
prosecute the Rus Pravoslanaya (Orthodox Russia) editor Konstantin
Dushenov for the publication of anti-Semitic materials. Although
Korsunov found no criminal matter in Dushenov’s publications, Zaitsev
expressed a different position after the public criticized his
deputy’s decision.

On April 3, 2006, the Velikiy Novgorod (Central Russia) Prosecutor’s
Office initiated a criminal case against the Russian Veche editor Paul

Ivanov was accused of "public calls to committing violence" and
"fueling hatred and discord." Officials initiated the case after the
staff of the St.

Petersburg History Institute of the Academy of Sciences had examined
several issues of the newspaper and found that they contained elements
that could incite hatred.

According to the ADL, in March 2006 officials initiated a criminal
case in Ulyanovsk against the publishers of the Vest newspaper for
anti-Semitic articles. On February 2, 2006, the Moscow Procurator’s
Office initiated a criminal case over the distribution of anti-Semitic
literature on the Internet, because this material had motivated
Alexander Koptsev, who had attacked parishioners at the Bolshaya
Bronnaya synagogue in January 2006. However, according to the ADL, the
case might not prevent the future Internet distribution of
anti-Semitic literature, because many extremist websites are
registered abroad.

According to the Russian Jewish Congress, the Chita Russian Zabaikalie
newspaper published anti-Semitic articles in February 2006. There
were reports of anti-Semitic literature on sale in Saratov,
Kaliningrad, Pertozavodsk, Rostov-on-Don, and other cities. The Our
Strategy television program, which had broadcast anti-Semitic views,
continued to air in St. Petersburg during the reporting period.

On January 11, 2006, the Tula newspaper Zasechniy Rubezh, named after
its nationalist organization publisher, printed an interview with
scholar I.

Shafarevitch in which he stated he approved of the anti-Semitic
"letter of500." The letter, issued in January 2005, was signed by
twenty Duma deputies. Atthe time, the newspapers Rus Pravoslavnaya and
Za Russkoye Delo published articles supporting the letter.

On January 5, 2006, the Nizhniy Novgorod newspaper, Novoye Delo,
printed an article which described the Khazars’ adoption of Judaism
more than 1,000 years ago in anti-Semitic terms and accused Jews of
enslaving the Khazars, saying that the Jews turned Khazaria into a
"blood-sucking spider that exhausted the neighboring countries."

In April 2005 Velikolukskaya Pravda, a newspaper supported by the
authorities in Velikiy Luki in Pskov Oblast, published an anti-Semitic
article which the local prosecutor began investigating as a possible
hate crime. Per Sova Center, based on the fact of the publication of
the article, Velikiye LukiCity Procuracy initiated a criminal case for
instigation of national hatred on June 1, 2005. On November 24, 2005,
the City Procuracy dropped the case onthe grounds of absence of crime
in the action.

According to local representatives of the ADL, a St. Petersburg
prosecutor initiated criminal proceedings against the publisher of the
Our Fatherland newspaper, accusing it of hate speech in 2005.
Officials gave the newspaper a warning, but there was no information
on further proceedings.

The Ulyanovsk local newspaper Orthodox Simbirsk is still in
circulation despite authorities holding preliminary hearings in
January 2005 following a criminal case against the editor in 2002 for
demonizing Jews. The FJC reported that the newspaper fired the editor,
and in March 2005 Governor Morozov of Ulyanovsk promised governmental
financial support to prevent bankruptcy.

In December 2004, a court in Novosibirsk sentenced the editor of
Russkaya Sibir, Igor Kolodezenko, to a two and half year suspended
sentence for publishing anti-Semitic articles. Kolodezenko, whom the
court convicted of inciting ethnic hatred in 2000, never served prison
time because of a Duma commemorative amnesty.

In 2005 Volgograd’s Voroshilovskiy District Prosecutor’s Office
decided not to pursue a criminal case against the editor of the
newspaper Kolokol, accused of inciting ethnic hatred through a series
of anti-Semitic articles. The MBHR and the Volgograd Jewish community
had sought such a case, the latter appealing for action on numerous
occasions, without result. The prosecutor reportedly found the
statute of limitations applied to one of the offending articles and
that the others did not meet sufficient cause of action underthe hate
crime laws.

An anti-Semitic novel, The Nameless Beast, by Yevgeny Chebalin, had
been on sale in the State Duma’s bookstore since September 2003,
despite international publicity. The xenophobic and anti-Semitic text
makes offensive comparisons of Jews and non-Russians. According to the
ADL, authorities donot typically monitor for content books sold in the
Duma. In cases where Jewish or other public organizations have
attempted to take legal action against the publishers, the courts have
been generally unwilling to recognize the presence of anti-Semitic

Anti-Semitic statements have resulted in formal prosecution, but while
the Government has publicly denounced nationalist ideology and
supports legal action against anti-Semitic acts, the reluctance of
some lower-level officials to call such acts anything other than
"hooliganism" remained problematic.

According to the ADL, in 2006 human rights organizations made numerous
attempts to prosecute the authors of the "Letter of 500." However,
their attempts were unsuccessful. According to the Obschestvennoye
Mnenie (Public Opinion) Foundation, after the January 2006 Moscow
synagogue attack, the number of citizens who condemned anti-Semitism
increased by almost 10 percent. A poll concerning the attack showed
that the proportion of citizens who had a negative attitude towards
anti-Semites increased from 34 to 42 percent, while the proportion of
those who claimed to be indifferent to them decreased from 47 to 38
percent. Distrust and dislike of Jews was expressed by 7 percent of
the respondents, while 5 percent sympathized with those who expressed

In January 2006, the Nizhniy Novgorod Muslim Council condemned Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s appeal to rid the world of Israel in
an aggressive call for another Holocaust. The council issued a
statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day urging citizens
to overcome anti-Semitism, extremism and xenophobia.

On June 8, 2005, Patriarch Aleksey II sent a statement to the OSCE
Conference on Anti-Semitism and Other Forms of Intolerance meeting in
Cordoba, Spain, in which, reportedly for the first time, he publicly
referred to anti-Semitism as a "sin."

Members of the State Duma and other prominent figures expressed
anti-Semitic sentiments. In January 2005, approximately 500 persons,
including nineteen members of the Duma representing the Rodina Party
and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), wrote to the
prosecutor general to investigate Jewish organizations and initiate
proceedings to ban them, charging that a Russian translation of
ancient Jewish law, the Kitzur Shulchan Arukh, incited hatred against
non-Jews. The MFA condemned the letter as did President Putin, and the
Duma passed a resolution condemning the letter in February 2005. In
response, approximately 5,000 persons, reportedly including a number
of ROC clerics and some prominent cultural figures, signed a similar
anti-Semitic letter to the prosecutor general in March 2005. A Moscow
district prosecutor opened an investigation into the Jewish
organization that published the translation, as well as into charges
brought by Jewish and human rights organizations that the letters
violated federal laws against ethnic incitement, but closed both
investigations in June 2005 without bringing charges. In January 2006,
some of the deputies who had signed the letter said in an interview
that the letter had been the "right step." One deputy even proposed at
a Rodina meeting to repeat the letter with even wider
distribution. Originally registered with well-known neo-Nazis on its
electoral lists, Rodina attempted to improve its image by rejecting
openly neo-Nazi candidates; however, it allowed others known for their
anti-Semitic views to remain. On November 21, 2005,head of the Rodina
party Dmitry Rogozin, in a meeting with Rabbi Lazar, claimed that
neither he nor anyone around him from the party were anti-Semites. He
claimed that although a number of members of the Rodina Duma faction
did sign the "letter of 500," it included deputies who were not
members of the party and therefore did not follow party discipline.

State Duma Deputy Vladimir Zhirinovskiy and the Liberal Democratic
Party of Russia (LDPR) are also known for their anti-Semitic rhetoric
and statements.

In earlier years, LDPR supporters rallied during Moscow’s May Day
celebration, carrying anti-Semitic signs and speaking out against what
they called "world Zionism," but there were no reports of this during
the period covered by this report. Nikolay Kurianovich, an LDPR Duma
deputy, initiated and publicized the creation of a "list of the
enemies of the Russian people," with mostly Jewish names on the list.

Some members of the KPRF also made anti-Semitic statements. For
example, former Krasnodar Kray governor and current State Duma deputy
Nikolay Kondratenko at a June/July 2004 conference in Beirut, blamed
Zionism and Jews in general for many of the country’s problems and
blamed Jews for helping to destroy the Soviet Union. His speech was
printed in the Communist Party’s main newspaper Sovetskaya Rossiya and
several regional papers, including the Krasnodar paper Kuban Segodnya
and the Volgograd paper Volgogradskaya Tribuna.

Improvements and Positive Developments in Respect for Religious

In June 2006 the administration of Arsen Kanokov, president of the
Kabardino-Balkaria Republic (KBR), drafted a new three-year program to
implement measures to protect human rights. The document assesses the
work of republic and local government officials and of the Interior
Ministry, which under its former head, Khachim Shogenov, reportedly
targeted young Muslim men in a misdirected attempt to curb militant

The Slavic Center for Law and Justice reported as of June 20, 2006
that the Land Committee of the Western District of Moscow officially
allowed the Emmanuel Church to rent 4,000 square meters of land under
the old House of Culture in the Solntsevo district of Moscow, which
members planned to convert into a prayer house and church office
buildng. As for the piece of land on Prospekt Verndaskoyo (Moscow
Western District), authorities had not decided. This decision came
after a Moscow district court ruled on November 14, 2005, that it
agreed with the Emmanuel Pentecostal Church that the local authorities
had violated the legal procedure for regulating public events in its
handling of the Church’s repeated demonstrations. The same court ruled
on October 10, 2005, that thirteen police had wrongfully detained
Emmanuel members following a demonstration a week earlier. Pastor
Purshaga confirmed that his chur ch–which had been staging regular
demonstrations for over eight months–and protesting since 1996
discrimination that prevented them from building a Pentecostal Church,
stopped encountering police obstruction following these court
decisions. During their long fight, authorities arrested members and
Pastor Purshaga on several occasions. They served five days in jail in
June 2005.

In Voronezh the regional administration organized a roundtable meeting
in November 2005 at which representatives from the police, the
procuracy, the Federal Security Services, local authorities,
universities, NGOs, academics, and religious groups discussed the
problems of racism, intolerance, and interethnic relations. Following
the meeting, officials set up a coordination committee chaired by the
deputy governor of Voronezh region, bringing together law enforcement
agencies, representatives from the town’s universities, NGOs, and
religious institutions with the aim of creating a plan of action.

Izvestiya reported that on May 17, 2005, the Moscow city government
decided to create a two-year, $12.5 million (350 million ruble)
program to promote interethnic tolerance.

Federal and regional officials participated actively in, and in many
cases strongly supported, a range of NGO-organized programs to promote
toleranceand the more effective handling of hate crimes.

In addition, the newly established Public Chamber, a body that the
government set up to represent civil society and whose approach
President Putin appeared largely to direct, recognized racism and
intolerance as a seriousissue and a priority on which to work. The
Public Chamber set up a commission on tolerance and freedom of

In the past five years, the number of organized Jewish communities in
the country has increased from 87 to more than 200. In 2005 officials
dedicated new synagogues in Birobidzhan (Jewish Autonomous Oblast),
Khabarvosk, Vladivostok, and Yekaterinburg; and opened a Jewish school
in Kazan.

The reporting period witnessed a few developments in the cultural life
of the Jewish community such as opening of a new building to house a
Jewish Community Center in St. Petersburg in September 2005. The
Federation of Jewish Communities, which officially accounts for 184
communities in 176 cities of the country, was restoring a synagogue in
Irkutsk. The project was to be completed in the summer of 2006. As of
early 2006, the FJC had built eleven multifunctional community centers
in the country. A Jewish center and synagogue are being constructed
in Lipetsk, and the construction was expected to be competed in the
fall of 2006.

The support of federal authorities, and in many cases regional and
local authorities, facilitated the establishment of new Jewish
institutions. On June 26, 2006, Arkadiy Gaydamak President of the
Congress of Jewish Religious Organizations and Associations of Russia,
and Chief Rabbi of Russia Shayevich signed an investment contract
regarding the construction of a Moscow Jewish community center. Work
began on the construction of a $100 million dollar(2 billion,700
million rubles) complex on land donated by the Moscow city government
to house Jewish community institutions including a school, a hospital,
and a major new museum devoted to the history of the country’s Jews,
the Holocaust, and tolerance. The construction was scheduled to be
completed by the end of 2008.

On September 1, 2005, a center for scribing sacred Jewish scrolls
opened in St. Petersburg for the first time in eighty years. Located
in the Jewish educational center Tomhei Tmimim Lubavich Yeshivah, the
center named "Merkaz Stam" will train specialists in scribing and
verifying Torah scrolls, Tefillins, and Mezuzahs for use by the Jewish
population in the city. A certified specialist from Israel directed
the center.

See Anti-Semitic Acts section for reports of positive developments on
closing of anti-Semitic newspapers, public opinion about anti-Semites,
and condemnation of Iranian President Ahmadinejab.

Some minority groups were able to obtain restitution of their
religious property. Press reports in August 2005 indicated that
officials returned a church that Soviet authorities had confiscated in
1922 to a St. PetersburgRussian Orthodox Old Believers’ Community. On
September 5, 2005, authorities returned school buildings in
Rostov-on-Don and Orenburg to the Jewish community, and in September
2004, they returned a synagogue in Vladivostok. In 2004, Tula City
Duma returned a church to the Catholic community. On September 18,
2005 the Roman Catholic Church consecrated its new church in Pskov
after many delays apparently due to ROC pressure.

Jehovah’s Witnesses reported that authorities resolved a child custody
case in their favor during the reporting period.

Section III. Societal Abuses and Discrimination

Religious matters are not a source of pronounced societal tension or
overt discrimination for most citizens; however, many citizens firmly
believe that at least nominal adherence to the ROC is a part of
Russian culture. Instances of terrorism and events related to the war
in Chechnya have given rise to negative popular attitudes toward
traditionally Muslim ethnic groups in many regions. Instances of
religiously motivated violence continued, although it was often
difficult to determine whether xenophobia, religion, or ethnic
prejudices are the primary motivation. Conservative activists claiming
ties to the ROC disseminated negative publications and staged
demonstrations throughout the country against Roman Catholics,
Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other minority religions, and
some ROC leaders expressed similar views. See the Anti-Semitic Acts
section for additional information on this subject.

There is no large-scale movement to promote interfaith dialogue;
however, some religious groups successfully collaborate on the local
level on charity projects and participate in interfaith
dialogues. Pentecostal and Baptist organizations, as well as the ROC,
have been reluctant to support ecumenism. At the international level,
the ROC has traditionally pursued interfaith dialogue with other
Christian groups. Individuals associated with Russian Orthodox and
Muslim hierarchies made numerous hostile statements opposing the
decision and continued to consider it a source of tension.

A small splinter group of the RNE called "Russian Rebirth" registered
successfully in the past in Tver and Nizhniy Novgorod as a social
organization, prompting protests from human rights groups; however, in
several regions such as Moscow and Kareliya, the authorities have
limited the activities of the RNE by denying registration to their
local affiliates. According to Sova Center, there were neither
registration denials nor registrations of RNE during the reporting

Hostility toward non-Russian-Orthodox religious groups sparked
harassment and occasionally physical attacks. The police
investigation of the June 2004 killing of Nikolai Girenko, an expert
on xenophobia, racism, and anti-Semitism, finally produced suspects in
May 2006. Moscow newspapers reported that in late May 2006 officials
detained five men in St. Petersburg for possible ties to the killing
of an African student and on suspicion of the murder of Girenko,
according to city prosecutor Sergey Zaitsev. The suspects, members of
the Mad Crowd group, are thought to have killed Girenko as revenge for
Girenko’s testimony in court against another extremist group. Girenko
had served for many years as an expert witness in trials involving
alleged skinheads and neo-Nazis.

Muslims, the largest religious minority, continued to encounter
societal discrimination and antagonism in some regions. After
terrorists associatedwith Chechen, Ingush, and Islamic extremists
seized a school in September 2004in Beslan, North Ossetia, interethnic
and interreligious tensions resulting in discrimination persisted in
the region without the authorities’ intervention, according to NGOs.
Muslims claimed that citizens in certain regions feared Muslims,
citing cases such as a dispute in Kolomna, approximately sixty miles
southeast of Moscow, over the proposed construction of a
mosque. Government officials, journalists, and the public have been
quick to label Muslim organizations "Wahhabi," a term that has become
equivalent with "extremist." Such sentiment has led to a formal ban on
Wahhabism in Dagestan and Kabardino-Balkariya. Numerous press reports
documented anti-Islamic sentiment.

On March 14, 2006, in the republic of Karachayevo-Cherkessia, unknown
persons armed with Kalashnikovs fired twenty seven cartridges at the
home of mufti Ismail Hadzhi Berdiyev, chair of the Muslim Coordinated
Council for Spiritual Management of Karachayevo-Cherkessia and
Stavropol Regions.

In Muslim-dominated regions, relations between Muslims and Russian
Orthodox believers were generally harmonious. In Tatarstan, the
authorities promoted the liberal brand of Islamic thought dubbed
"Euro-Islam"; however, tensions occasionally emerged in the republic
and the surrounding Volga region. Law enforcement organizations
closely watched Muslim groups. Officials often described Muslim
charitable organizations as providing aid to extremists in addition to
their overt charitable work. Extremely traditional or orthodox
versions of Islam were often associated in the public mind with
terrorism and radical Muslim fighters in the North Caucasus.

Although the previous reporting period saw the chairman of the Council
of Muftis, the head of the Central Spiritual Board of the country’s
Muslims, and the head of the Coordinating Center of Muslims of the
North Caucasus jointly denounce terrorism, the national press carried
stories during the reporting period highlighting their public
differences in attitudes toward Wahabbism, among other things.

In April 2006, officials detained seven teenagers between the ages of
fifteen and sixteen in the town of Dzerzhinsk in the Nizhniy Novgorod
Region for throwing stones and a Molotov cocktail at a local
mosque. An investigationwas continuing. On December 2, 2005, vandals
set on fire a two-story wooden building housing the Muslim Board of
Komi, which housed a mosque. The fire destroyed the roof and damaged
thirty square meters of the premises; therewere no injuries. The
emergency situations’ authorities said the fire was the result of

In February 2005, vandals desecrated twenty-six tombs in a Muslim
cemetery in Yoshkar-Oly; in January 2005, vandals desecrated ten tombs
in the Donskoye Muslim cemetery in Moscow. Teenagers were suspected of
involvement in bothof these incidents. In January 2005, vandals
painted swastikas on the walls of the "Tauba" mosque in Nizhniy
Novgorod. Investigators characterized these crimes as "mere
hooliganism" rather than as hate crimes, or national and religious

Although a Yekaterinburg journalist reported militiamen barred women
wearing the hijab from local subway stations on several occasions in
2005, she did not know of similar incidents in the reporting period
nor of any overt signs of intolerance toward Muslims on religious

On May 21, 2006, in downtown Yaroslavl, skinheads reportedly kicked a
thirty-year-old Hare Krishna in the stomach several times.

According to press reports, in September 2004, representatives of the
Aleksandr Nevsky Patriotic Society disrupted a pre-approved
demonstration organized by Hare Krishna members in Saratov, held in
memory of the victims of the terrorist attack in Beslan.

On November 14, 2005, a thirty-six-year-old resident of the Smolensk
region detonated an explosive device in the ROC Chapel near the town
of Vyazma because of his "dislike for the Russian Orthodox Church."
Officials charged him under the Criminal Code for vandalism, illegal
possession of weapons and explosives, and willing destruction of
property using explosives.

On March 11, 2006, vandals robbed and desecrated the church of the
Resurrection of Christ in the Vysotskoye settlement in Yaroslavskaya
Region. On February 26, 2006, teenagers desecrated a chapel in the
Smolenskoye cemetery in St. Petersburg, and on February 5, 2006,
vandals broke street lamps and spray-painted the Center of Russian
Spirituality of the Orthodox Church ofthe Mother of God with
xenophobic slogans.

During the reporting period, the tensions between the Vatican and the
ROC notably decreased, although the Patriarchy in Moscow continued to
object to the transfer of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic See from Lviv
to Kiev, which occurred in August 2005. Other issues of concern that
remained between thetwo groups include the ROC’s continued negative
perception that Roman Catholics proselytize across the country and a
proposal by a local priest to open a small, three-room Catholic
Carmelite convent whose main mission would be to work with orphans in
the city of Nizhniy Novgorod. The ROC alleged that the convent would
serve as a base for missionary activities, and the Catholic Church
indicated that the convent was not a full-fledged convent but a means
for caring for local orphans.

In a meeting in March 2006 with a Franciscan Order delegation,
Patriarch Aleksey II reportedly said that he hoped the Catholic Church
would stop proselytizing Orthodox believers and those with Orthodox
roots because therivalry in winning souls makes their work more
difficult at a time when the world needs the fruit of both churches in
their Christian efforts.

In June 2005, Patriarch Aleksey met with the President of the Italian
Parliament Pier Ferdinando and they jointly launched an appeal for
Catholics and Orthodox to avoid "negative and anti-Christian
tendencies" and to cooperate "against violence, egoism, and moral

In February 2006 Cardinal Roger Etchegaray traveled to Moscow to take
part in celebrating the patriarch’s birthday and feast day. Observers
saw thisas the result of the government’s attempt to ease the tensions
between the two churches and pave the way for a papal visit to Moscow,
which President Putin has publicly championed, sending Foreign
Minister Lavrov to the Vatican in June 2005.

On the night of April 27-28, 2006, vandals set fire to an Adventist
church in Taganrog in Rostov Region, after breaking windows earlier
that week. The fire was termed arson. It was the first such incident
at that church.

Reports of the harassment of evangelicals and Pentecostals
dramatically decreased during the reporting period. In contrast to
previous reports and Helsinki Commission testimony in April 2005 about
the vandalizing and burning of prayer houses in Nekrasovskoye,
Chelyabinsk, Bratsk, Izhevsk, Buryatiya, Oshkar Ola, Khalsk, and
Poldolsk, where authorities made no arrests, few such instances
appeared to have occurred since September 2005, when Bishop Sergey
Ryakhovskiy joined the Public Chamber. Nevertheless, African-Russian
and African ministers of non-Orthodox Christian churches experienced
prejudicial treatment, based apparently on a combination of religious
and racial bigotry.

According to the Slavic Center for Law and Justice, in April 2005, the
eve of Russian Orthodox Easter, vandals firebombed a Baptist church in
Chelyabinsk. Local Baptists blame coverage in a news broadcast on a
local television channel for characterizing the Baptists as a
"totalitarian sect." According to church sources, after the fire,
employees of the television station visited the church to apologize,
saying they did not expect their report to have this effect. The
station broadcast a retraction, and the pastor of the church and the
local Baptist bishop called a press conference, this time receiving
sympathetic television coverage.

Picketers held demonstrations outside New Life Church in Yekaterinburg
on May 8, May 15, and May 22, 2005, but only a few people took part in

Anti-Evangelical activists held pickets beginning in March 2005 in an
attempt to demand city authorities evict the New Life Church from its
building. This represented the near-cessation of members of the
Orthodox Brotherhood and members of City Without Drugs picketing of
Sunday services at Protestant churches in Yekaterinburg. The situation
is calm according to the pastor of Living Word Church, the head of the
Adventist congregation, and the Bishop of theNew Life church. In
April 2005, at the request of Protestant leaders, Yekaterinburg city
officials began denying permission to groups who wishedto picket
outside Protestant churches, accusing members of these churches of
torturing and even killing children, and espionage.

The press routinely continued to reference members of Jehovah’s
Witnesses as a religious "sect," although they had been present in the
country for approximately one-hundred years. In November 2004, the
ROC-affiliated NGO Committee for the Salvation of Youth from
Totalitarian Sects filed a claimwith the prosecutor general seeking
the dissolution of the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in
Russia. A common prejudice circulating among the general public was
that members of Jehovah’s Witnesses are "spies of imperialism." In
January 2004, the governor of Stavropol Kray compared members of
Jehovah’s Witnesses to Wahhabis. This comparison resonated
particularly strongly in Stavropol, an area that had been attacked by
Chechen separatists.

According to Interfax, in September 2005 Yekaterinburg Russian
Orthodox Archbishop Vikenty invited listeners of the Voskresenie
Diocesan radio station to convert Jehovah’s Witnesses to the Orthodox
faith, referring to their beliefs as "delusions."

During the reporting period, officials reported thirty cases of
physical attacks on Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout the country while
they engaged in their preaching work; of these, five took place in
Moscow. The authoritiesdid not take any action against the assailants.

In April 2006 unidentified individuals reportedly climbed over the
fence of the Pskov Kingdom Hall and broke two windows.

After nearly two years of criminal proceedings, in March 2005,
authorities found the Sakharov Center Director and a staff member
guilty of inciting religious hatred and fined them approximately
$3,750 (100,000 rubles) each.

Officials acquitted the third defendant of all charges. Although the
Moscow City Court dismissed their appeal, the Center entered an appeal
at the European Court in Strasbourg. The charges stemmed from a
provocative 2003 exhibit of religious-themed art entitled "Danger,
Religion!" Authorities never charged those who vandalized the exhibit
with a crime, and the verdict leaves room for the state and the ROC to
define parameters for religious and artistic expression.

During the reporting period, the Slavic Center for Law and Justice and
a number of minority "nontraditional" religious leaders asserted that
the Government and majority religious groups increasingly used the
mass media, conferences, and public demonstrations to foment
opposition to minority religions as threats to physical, mental, and
spiritual health; asserting that these groups threatened national
security. Speakers associated with the ROC took part in antisect
conferences and meetings around the country.

In 2004 the Izhevsk newspaper Infopanorama published an article that
slandered the pastor of that city’s Work of Faith Evangelical Church
for which the newspaper later apologized. In Krasnodar Kray, the local
Adventist congregation was unable to move the prosecutor general to
initiate a criminal investigation against a television station that
broadcast an allegation that the Adventists conducted ritual killings
each year.

Section IV. U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. government discusses religious freedom issues with the
Government as part of its overall policy to promote human rights. The
U.S. government continued to engage the Government, a number of
religious groups, NGOs, and others in a regular dialogue on religious
freedom. The U.S. embassy in Moscow and the consulates general in
Yekaterinburg, St. Petersburg, and Vladivostok actively investigated
reports of violations of religious freedom. In the period covered by
this report, their contacts included government officials,
representatives of all traditional and many "nontraditional" religious
confessions, the Slavic Center for Law and Justice, the
Anti-Defamation League, lawyers representing religious groups,
journalists, academics, and human rights activists.

The embassy and consulates worked with NGOs to encourage the
development of programs designed to sensitize law enforcement
officials and municipal and regional administration officials to
recognize discrimination, prejudice,and crimes motivated by ethnic or
religious intolerance. Senior embassy officials discussed religious
freedom with high-ranking officials in the presidential administration
and the Government, including the MFA, raising specific cases of
concern. Federal officials responded by investigating some of those
cases and by keeping embassy staff informed on issues they have
raised. As part of continuing efforts to monitor the overall climate
of religious tolerance, the embassy and consulates maintained frequent
contact with working-level officials at the MOJ, presidential
administration, and MFA.

The embassy addresses religious freedom by maintaining a broad range
of contacts in the religious and NGO communities. Two positions in the
embassy’s political section are dedicated to human rights and
religious freedom issues.

these officers work closely with other U.S. officers in Moscow and
U.S. consulates around the country.

Consular officers routinely assisted U.S. citizens involved in
criminal, customs, and immigration cases; officers were sensitive to
any indicationsthat these cases involved possible violations of
religious freedom. Such issues were raised regularly in meetings with
the Consular Department of the MFA and with the MVD. As
U.S. missionaries and religious workers comprised a significant
component of the local U.S. citizen population, the embassy conducted
a vigorous outreach program to provide consular services, and to
maintain contact for emergency planning purposes and to inquire about
the missionaries’ experiences vis-a-vis immigration, registration, and
police authorities asone gauge of religious freedom.

The U.S. ambassador addressed religious freedom in public addresses
and consultations with government officials. He attended events on
major religious holidays and often met with a range of religious
leaders from various denominations. He hosted discussions on religious
freedom with the leadersof major religious denominations.

The U.S. government continued to press the country to adhere to
international standards of religious freedom. Officials in the
U.S. Department of State met regularly with U.S.-based human rights
groups and religious organizations, as well as with visiting
representatives of local religiousorganizations, the Slavic Center for
Law and Justice, and members of the State Service Academy that trains
regional officials in charge of registering local religious

Members of the staffs of the U.S. consulates general in
St. Petersburg, Vladivostok, and Yekaterinburg met with religious
leaders from a range of denominations in several cities in their
consular district. During the reporting period, the consulate general
in Yekaterinburg maintained a particularly active outreach program to
the Muslim community of the Urals.

Consulate officials met with representatives of different religious
groups in Ufa, including the chief mufti of the Central Muslim
Spiritual Board, Talgat Tadjuddin, to discuss the current situation
and U.S.-related issues.

As part of the embassy’s outreach to the Muslim community and to
promote tolerance, in summer 2005 the second annual English language
camp sponsored by the embassy in Moscow and the consulate general in
Yekaterinburg took place in Ufa, Bashkortostan. The two summer camps,
each three weeks long, allowed approximately 200 children from
low-income families to improve their English, leadership skills and
understanding of U.S. culture.

In April 2006 the head of the Tajik NGO Somon who participated in the
International Visitor Program (IVP) invited the Consul General to a
seminar titled "Tolerance Starts at School." This seminar was the
second stage of the "Teaching Tolerance" project sponsored by the
Democracy Commission. The first stage took place in January 2006, and
brought together teachers and representatives of ethnic NGOs in
Yekaterinburg. The third seminar, in May, was geared to law
enforcement officials.

The U.S. government organized exchanges under the IVP with a focus on
religious freedom issues. In February and March 2006, a group of
religious leaders, NGO representatives, and journalists who covered
religious tolerance issues from Yekaterinburg and Orenburg, visited
the USA under the regional IVP "Community Activism in Promoting a
Tolerant Society." After coming back, the Orthodox and Muslim
religious leaders gave interviews to religion-oriented television and
radio programs and newspapers, emphasizing their positive impressions
of activities of U.S. NGOs, confessions, and government structures. A
journalist published an article on this program in one of the major
Yekaterinburg newspapers.

In February 2006, during the regional workshop for the American
Corners, one session was devoted to outreach programs for the Muslim
population. A deputy director of the Interethnic Information Center
gave the coordinators advice on how to contact and attract the Muslim
community to their events.

On February 28, 2006, 500 students from 7 Vladivostok universities
attended a student conference sponsored by the consulate general in
Vladivostok with the theme "Tolerance in Multi-Cultural, Multi-Ethnic,
Multi-Faith Societies: Challenges, Practices, and Opportunities" at
the Far Eastern State Technical University. More than fifty students
delivered English-language presentations on international practices in
tolerance, Consul General John Mark Pommersheim delivered opening
remarks, and International Information Programs speaker Dr. Rock
Brynner delivered the keynote address. There was also an NGO
roundtable composed of U.S. government exchange program alumni that
featured religious tolerance as well.

In September 2005 a speaker on religious tolerance visited
Yekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk, and Zlatoust, which had experienced
problems between religious groups, and met with religious communities,
officials, journalists, human rights activists, and students.

In March 2005, the consulate general in Yekaterinburg supported an
academic conference on ethnic and religious tolerance at Orenburg
State University.

The conference drew participants from throughout the country and

The mufti of Orenburg Oblast and the head of the Orthodox Church in
Orenburg both participated in the conference.

In September 2004, the consulate general in Yekaterinburg sent a group
of ten primarily Muslim community and religious leaders from the Urals
to the United States on a program entitled "Promoting Multiculturalism
in Civic Life." As a result, one participant, a television producer,
devoted an episode of her television show "Islam Today" to religious
freedom in the U.S. and, along with another participant, founded the
"Interethnic Information Center," which followed media coverage of
ethnic and religious minorities and worked to educate journalists and
government officials on tolerance issues. The Democracy Commission
gave them a small grant to create an on-line news portal for ethnic
and religious organizations.

During the period covered by this report, the embassy’s Democracy
Commission, a small (up to $24,000 or approximately 648,000 rubles)
grantsprogram supporting local NGOs working on a range of issues,
approved 4 tolerance-related grants totaling approximately $48,800
(approximately 1,317,600 rubles). A group of religious leaders from
Yekaterinburg, representing multiple religious groups, participated in
an International Visitor Leadership Program devoted to religious
freedom of expression and the development of constructive
interconfessional relations.

Between April 16 and 27, 2006, the Youth LINX program facilitated
dialogues in Ivanovo, Kostroma, and Moscow among religious leaders in
an effort to increase interfaith communication and understanding and
expose local university students to tolerance issues. In Kostroma, for
example, regional clergymen Father Grigoriy Chekmenyov, Father Mikhail
Nasonov, Imam-Khatab Marat Zhalyaletdinov, and Rabbi Nison Mendl Ruppo
served as panel experts, and aKostroma State University student,
trained on tolerance issues, moderated the discussion. Professors of
the Philosophy Department of Kostroma State University and
approximately fifty five students attended the event. Representatives
of the Kostroma regional administration emphasized the importance of
an open dialogue in promoting tolerance.

During the reporting period, the Southern Russia Resource Center
(SRRC) conducted two workshops on interethnic tolerance specifically
targeted toyouth organizations, as well as a school for NGO leaders,
two workshops in community mobilization in a post-conflict
environment, and a public relations school for journalists and
NGOs. The SRRC issued ten grants to six Chechen, three Ossetian, and
one Ingush organizations to promote tolerance among youth in these
republics; these projects ended in March 2006. In February 2006 the
SRRC signed an agreement with the Ministry of Nationalities in
Ingushetia to support SRRC’s activities in the republic and to consult
the Ministry about the issues of interethnic understanding and

In June and July 2005, U.S. government grantee, SRRC, in partnership
with the Tolerance Institute, conducted seminars for sixty
participants from North Ossetia, Chechnya and Ingushetia, promoting
models for how to prevent and address such problems as xenophobia,
cultural ignorance, and interethnic conflict. Participants included
NGO leaders, journalists, youth leaders, and regional and local
government officials.

The United States supported two additional tolerance projects through
the PartNER (Partnerships, Networking, Empowerment, and Roll-out)
program, which ended in December 2004. One of these projects, the Ural
NGO Support Center (UNGOSC), worked to encourage public discussion of
ethnic and religious tolerance in Perm. UNGOSC worked with media
outlets and various organizations to publicize program activities,
conduct a training program for journalists to promote more responsible
media coverage on racial and ethnic issues, recruit training
participants and stage public awareness campaigns and seminars.

Officials conducted the other tolerance project at the Volga
Humanitarian-Theological Institute in Nizhniy Novgorod, which
provided representatives of government and religious organizations
with a series of seminars to educate participants and help them focus
their thoughts and ideas on religious policy issues.

The activity of religious communities in the Volga Federal District
increased as a result of this project by uniting their efforts to
assist street children, migrants, and other people in difficult
situations and establishing a website to serve as a virtual resource
center for state officials and community leaders.

In 2004-05, the U.S. continued to support through a grant the Bay Area
Council for Jewish Rescue and Renewal’s "Climate of Trust" program,
which focuses on forming and strengthening Regional Tolerance Councils
in Kazan, Ryazan, and Leningrad Oblast. As the result of the program,
officials introduced tolerance courses for militia cadets in the
St. Petersburg Law Institute of the General Procuracy and the Ryazan
Branch of the Moscow Academy of the MVD.

Tatarstan’s regional Ministry of Education signed an agreement on
March 1,2005, in which it pledged to include tolerance courses in
continuing education programs for school teachers.

Released on September 15, 2006
Source: US State Dept.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS