Russia named responsible for deterioration of religious freedom in annexed Crimea and occupied Donbas

11 May 2018, 11:28 | International relations | 1 |   | Code for Blog |  | 

U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released its 2018 Annual Report, documenting religious freedom violations and progress in 28 countries during calendar year 2017 and making recommendations to the U.S. government.

In its 2018 report, USCIRF recommends 16 countries for CPC designation: 10 that the State Department so designated in December 2017—Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan—and six others—Central African Republic, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Syria, and Vietnam.

Few extracts from the report:

In 2017, the Russian occupation authorities continued their policies of harassment, intimidation, and small-scale terror targeting religious groups in Crimea suspected of disloyalty to the Russian state, chief among them Crimean Tatars and other Muslims. Although Russian repression of the Crimean Tatars is mainly motivated by political concerns, it also disrupts Crimean Tatar religious activities and institutions. As a result of the Russian occupation, the leadership of the Crimean Tatar political community, known as the Mejlis, was forced into exile. The two leaders of the Mejlis, Mustafa Dzhemilev and Refat Chubarov, live in government-controlled Ukraine. The second-most-senior leaders, Akhmet Chiigoz and Ilmi Umerov, remained behind in occupied Crimea and were sentenced to prison terms by Russian courts in September 2017; a month later, they were released and allowed to leave for government-controlled Ukraine in a deal negotiated by Turkey.

The imposition of Russia’s repressive laws has greatly curtailed religious freedom on the Crimean Peninsula. According to the UN, there were roughly 2,200 religious organizations, both registered and unregistered, in Crimea before the occupation; as of September 2017, only around 800 remained. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP) has refused to register, considering it to be submission to an illegal occupation. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church apparently is also unregistered. In June 2017, pursuant to the Russian Supreme Court’s decision to ban the Jehovah’s Witnesses, all 22 local organizations of the Witnesses in Crimea, representing 8,000 congregants, were officially banned. The imposition of Russia’s repressive laws has greatly curtailed religious freedom on the Crimean Peninsula.

Representatives of the UOC-KP described to USCIRF how their main church space in Simferopol was seized in August 2017 by bailiffs enforcing a February 2017 court decision transferring its ownership to the Crimean Ministry of Property and Land Relations. According to UOC-KP representatives, who see this as part of a deliberate effort to drive them from the peninsula, the number of UOC-KP communities in Crimea has declined from 40 to nine since the occupation. According to the UN, five UOC-KP churches were officially seized or shut down since 2014

The Russian-occupied separatist parastates of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LNR) and Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) in eastern Ukraine remain heavily militarized war zones policed by parallel ministries of state security. The official ideology of the republics is a mixture of Russian nationalism, Soviet nostalgia, and Russian Orthodoxy, to the extent that the DNR constitution recognizes the Russian Orthodox Church as the territory’s “leading and dominant” church. As such, for the Christian minorities living in the LNR/DNR, including Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Greek Catholics, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, the initial phase of the occupation was one of outright terror: kidnappings, torture, and robberies were the norm, in the course of which perpetrators openly expressed their contempt for the victims’ religious beliefs. More than 50 church buildings have been confiscated and communities are estimated to have declined by 30–80 percent as believers fled rebel-held areas.

In December 2017, DNR security officials released a Donetsk University professor of history and religious studies, Igor Kozlovskii, as part of a prisoner exchange. Kozlovskii had been held since January 2016 and was found guilty of arms possession and sentenced to nearly three years in May 2017 in a case that many believed was connected to his work with Christian minorities. DNR and LNR authorities remain deeply suspicious toward religious groups other than the Russian Orthodox Church. In February 2018, after the end of the reporting period, the LNR government announced it would require registration of all religious groups in its territory, which experts believe to be a prelude to the official exclusion of religious minorities, similar to Russian practice.

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  • Стефан | 22 May 2018, 23:17
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    Преступления для честных, а для жуликов, лжецов, грабителей и убийц - норма жизни ещё с 1917 года.

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  • В. Ясеневий | 21 September 2018, 21:21

    Напминаю чесному каммунисту михаилу слова свящ.Д.СМИРНОВА: ДО 2050 - го года в рассеи уже не будет православных рассеян. а МУЛЬМАНЕ...Изучайте коран...

  • S.Melnyk | 20 September 2018, 10:17

    Ага, і це після того сталося, як царські війська зруйнували з населення Батурин.

  • velovs@ukr.net | 20 September 2018, 09:45

    Кроме того, здесь, судя по всему, немаловажную роль играют и бизнесово-экономические связи и общие интересы - по крайней мере, весьма значительной части - "нашего" олигархата с той же

  • velovs@ukr.net | 20 September 2018, 08:19

    Когда церковная (или любая иная общественная) структура является, по своей сути и содержанию, "5-й колонной" внешнего врага-агрессора, то это, естественно, вызывает к ней соответствующее

  • Николай Григорьев_ | 19 September 2018, 21:09

    Лиха беда начало. Сегодня обяжут сменить название, завтра придумают что то новое патриотическое, а там и вовсе пойдут запреты, даешь кузькину мать, чтоб побольше насолить, неважно кому, хоть себе

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