Sunday, 22 June 1997

ADDITIONAL AMENDMENTS MADE TO LAW ON RELIGION FOR 'THIRD READING' by Lawrence Uzzell, Keston News Service On Saturday I obtained a copy of the revised text of the new legislation on religion, which at last word is to be taken up by the Duma for its 'third reading' on Monday. Note the following, especially important points: the elevation of Islam in the preamble; the softening in Article 2 of the commitment to respect Russia's obligations under international human-rights pacts; Article 4's further broadening of subsidies to religious organizations; the narrowing of parental rights in Article 5; the deletion of charitable activities from the list of those authorised for 'religious groups' in Article 7; and the substitution of 'association' for 'organization' in Article 27, which will require so-called 'religious groups' to go through a formal registration process even though they will not enjoy the rights stemming from registration. Many of the changes in the text which I received on Saturday are merely stylistic, and sometimes involve such fine shades of meaning or word order that they would not affect an English translation.  In the translation which follows I have ignored nearly all merely stylistic changes and have concentrated on those which in my judgment have substantive importance.  New wording appears in ALL-CAPITAL LETTERS; wording in the 18 June text which has now been omitted is enclosed in brackets < >. Preamble: 'Respecting Orthodoxy as an inseparable part of the all- Russian historical, spiritual and cultural heritage, AND EQUALLY ISLAM WITH ITS MILLIONS OF MEMBERS, AND ALSO Buddhism, Judaism and other religions traditionally existing in the Russian Federation;' Article 1: 'This federal law regulates the legal relationships IN THE AREA OF THE RIGHTS OF MAN AND CITIZEN to freedom of conscience and to freedom of creed , and ALSO the legal status of religious associations.' Article 2, point 2: 'The rights of man and citizen to freedom of conscience and to freedom of creed are regulated by federal law.   laws and other normative legal acts ENACTED IN THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION AND affecting THE REALISATION OF freedom of conscience, freedom of creed and ALSO the activities of religious associations must be consistent with this federal law....' Article 2, Point 3. Nothing in the law on freedom of conscience...may be interpreted in such a way as to diminish or limit the right OF MAN AND CITIZEN to freedom of conscience and freedom of creed, as established by the Constitution of the Russian Federation or stemming from INTERNATIONAL TREATIES OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION.' Article 3, Point 2: 'The right OF MAN AND CITIZEN to freedom of conscience and to freedom of creed may be restricted by federal law only to the extent to which this is necessary for the goals of defending the foundations of the constitutional system...' Article 4, Point 2: 'In accordance with the constitutional principle of the separation of religious associations from the state, the state...is not to interfere in the activities of religious associations if those activities do not contradict THIS FEDERAL LAW; Article 4, Point 3: The state is to secure the observance and protection of the rights of citizens to freedom of conscience... is to provide FINANCIAL, material AND OTHER aid to religious organisations in the restoration, maintenance and protection of buildings and objects which are monuments of history and culture...' Article 4, Point 7: 'By request of religious organisations, THE APPROPRIATE organs of state power in the Russian Federation have the right to declare religious holidays as non-working days in the appropriate territories.' Article 5, Point 2: 'The upbringing and education of children is to be IS TO BE CARRIED OUT BY PARENTS OR GUARDIANS, TAKING INTO ACCOUNT the right of the child to freedom of conscience and of creed.' Article 6, Point 2: 'Religious associations may be created in the form of religious groups or religious organisations.' Article 7   A RELIGIOUS GROUP . Point 1. A voluntary association of citizens, formed for the goals of joint confession and dissemination of their faith, functioning without state registration and without obtaining the LEGAL CAPABILITIES of a legal personality, is called a religious group . Article 7, Point 3. 'Religious groups have the right to conduct worship services, to carry out religious rituals and ceremonies, ' Article 8, Point 3. 'An organization having no fewer than ten members or followers AT LEAST 18 YEARS OLD AND permanently residing in one locality or in one populated point within the territory of one subject of the Russian Federation is recognised as a local religious organization.' Article 8, Point 4: 'A RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION CONSISTING IN ACCORDANCE WITH ITS CHARTER OF NO FEWER THAN THREE LOCAL RELIGIOUS ORGANISATIONS IS RECOGNISED AS A REGIONAL RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION. ' Article 8, Point 5: 'A centralized religious organization which has been functioning in the Russian Federation for no fewer than 50 years can be recognized as All-Russian by a decision of the Government of the Russian Federation if the organization has local religious organizations in no fewer than half of the subjects of the Russian Federation, or in no fewer than three subjects of the Russian Federation as ethnic-cultural formations.' Article 8, Point 6: 'A CENTRALISED RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION ACTIVE IN THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION FOR NO FEWER THAN 50 YEARS, HAS the right to use in its names THE WORDS 'Russia', 'Russian' and derivatives of these.' Article 8, Point 7:  'An institution formed by a central religious organization in accordance with its charter or an organization which has the aim and features specified IN POINT 1 OF ARTICLE 6, including a governing or coordinating organ or institution or also an institution of professional religious education is also recognised as a religious organization.' Article 11, Point 4:  'For the state registration of a local religiousorganization, adult citizens of the Russian Federation AT LEAST 18 YEARS OLD AND numbering no less than 10 people submit the following...information on its basic creed and related practice, including the history of how the religion arose and a history of the said association... restrictions on the organization's members and clergy as regards their rights and duties as citizens...' Article 11, Point 5:  'In a case in which the supreme organ (centre) of the religious organization which is being formed is located outside the Russian Federation, in addition to THE DOCUMENTS stipulated in point 4 of the present article, in accordance with established practice, the statutes or other founding document of the foreign religious organization, confirmed by a state organ of the country in which the organization is located , must be submitted.' Article 11, Point 7: 'An application for state registration of a religious organization created by an existing religious organization or according to a confirmation issued by an existing CENTRALISED religious organization is to be reviewed within a month...' Article 11, Point 11: 'When a religious organization moves to a different location (legal address) it must inform the registering organ within a month from the day of the change.' Article 11, Point 12: 'Once every two years a religious organization is obliged to inform the registering body of the continuation of its activities, indicating where it is based (its legal address) and giving data on its leaders within the framework of information included in the single state register of legal personalities.  Failure to provide the information indicated over a period of three years, is sufficient grounds for the registering body to appeal to a court to recognise the organization as having ceased its activities as a legal personality and to delete it from the single state register of legal persons.' (NOTE THAT THE ABOVE NEW LANGUAGE IN ARTICLE 11 ADOPTED ON THE FLOOR OF THE DUMA ON 18 JUNE IS NOW BEING ADDED TO THE ARTICLE AS A NEW POINT 12, INSTEAD OF BEING SUBSTITUTED FOR THE OLD POINT 11 AS THE DEPUTIES WERE TOLD ON 18 JUNE.) Article 13, Point 2: 'A Russian religious organization can have attached to itself a representative body of a foreign religious organization.  To open such a representative body, the Russian religious organization presents a petition...including a history of the religion and of the said ORGANIZATION, the forms and methods of its activity...' Article 14, Point 3: 'The organs of the procuracy and THE  ORGAN CARRYING OUT THE REGISTRATION OF RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS have the right to bring a case to court  on the liquidation of a religious organization or the banning OF THE ACTIVITIES OF A RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION OR a religious group...' Article 16, Point 2: 'Worship services, religious rites and ceremonies take place without hindrance...in cemeteries and crematoriums, and also in RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS .' Article 19, Point 3: 'Citizens who are studying as resident students in departments of professional religious institutions which have state licences have the right to delay their military service and to make use of other privileges granted IN ACCORDANCE WITH the laws of the Russian Federation.' Article 21, Point 5: 'Creditors may not institute proceedings against REAL ESTATE OR OTHER property designated for worship purposes.' Article 24, Point 4: 'Employees of religious organizations, AND ALSO clergy, must have state social and medical insurance as well as provision for pensions.' Article 27, Point 4: 'The charters and other founding documents of religious organizations established before this Federal law comes into force must be brought into conformity with this federal law. Until the charters AND OTHER FOUNDING DOCUMENTS of religious organizations have been brought into conformity with this federal law, only those parts of the charters AND OTHER FOUNDING DOCUMENTS of religious organizations remain in force which do not contradict this federal law.' Article 27, Point 5: 'The re-registration with the State of religious ASSOCIATIONS created before this federal law came into force must take place no later that <31 December 1998> 31 DECEMBER 1999...Once this period has run out religious ASSOCIATIONS which have not re-registered are subject to liquidation... (END)