An anti-terrorism law passed by the Russian parliament would put severe restrictions on religious freedom by banning religious gatherings in homes and regulating propagation of religion, including on the Internet, according to reports.
Both houses of the Russian parliament have passed the anti-terrorism legislation package, leading the country’s Christians to appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin to reject the measure.
The legislation would prohibit the exercise of any missionary activity in residential areas, and also require believers wanting to share their faith with others, even on the Internet, to possess certain documents from a religious association. It provides for a fine of $75 to $765 if the violator is a Russian citizen, and a fine of up to $15,265 in case of an organization, while foreigners would be deported, according to Adventist Review.
“It is impossible for believers to comply with the requirements not to express their religious beliefs and to be silent even in their own homes as required by the legislation,” Seventh-day Adventist’s Moscow-based Euro-Asia Division said in a statement. “If this legislation is approved, the religious situation in the country will grow considerably more complicated and many believers will find themselves in exile and subjected to reprisals because of our faith.”
The Kremlin has not responded publicly to appeals to revise the legislation. Human rights advocates have also called for changes, saying several antiterrorism measures violate international law.
Ganoune Diop, director of the public affairs and religious liberty department for the Adventist world church, said he was monitoring the situation and working closely with Goncharov.