The Russian Federation is the world’s largest country by land area. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, beset by corruption and cronyism, Russia has struggled in efforts to build a new democratic political system and market economy.
This country is found to be declining under the renewed Putin regime; with numerous new failures to uphold rights and provide accountability, the president has plunged the country into new international crises for the sake of national pride. The role of clericalism as an aspect of social control is expanding. Throughout 2019, the authorities continued to target “nontraditional” religious minorities with fines, detentions, and criminal charges under the pretext of combating extremism.1https://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/Russia.pdf
|Constitution and government||Education and children’s rights||Family, community, society, religious courts and tribunals||Freedom of expression advocacy of humanist values|
Government authorities push a socially conservative, religiously or ideologically inspired agenda, without regard to the rights of those with progressive views
Countries: Barbados, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Central African Republic, Chile, Congo, Republic of the, Ecuador, Estonia, Fiji, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Japan, Kenya, Kosovo, Mexico, Mongolia, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, South Africa, South Sudan, Taiwan, Ukraine
Countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brunei Darussalam, Comoros, Croatia, Egypt, Eritrea, Ghana, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Zimbabwe
Countries: Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Congo, Republic of the, Djibouti, Ecuador, France, Gabon, Honduras, Iceland, India, Japan, Korea, Republic of, Mali, Mexico, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, São Tomé and Príncipe, South Africa, Sweden, Taiwan, United States of America, Uruguay
Countries: Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chile, Congo, Republic of the, Dominica, Ecuador, Estonia, France, Ghana, Guatemala, Iceland, Japan, Korea, Republic of, Kosovo, Latvia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Micronesia, Monaco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sweden, Taiwan, Uruguay, Venezuela
Countries: no countries relate to this boundary condition
Countries: no countries relate to this boundary condition
This condition is unusual in that it is applied in cases where there is some social discrimination, but it is not pervasive or nationwide. This condition is applied when there is sufficient background evidence to warrant the assertion that discrimination is not anomalous but widespread, and this condition may be applied for example even where if there is no legislative discrimination or where the non-religious may have legal recourse against such discrimination. However, societal discrimination (i.e. discrimination by peers, as opposed to state or legal discrimination) is not easily measured, and for this reason the Report does not currently have similar more severe boundary conditions to capture higher levels of social discrimination per se. In principle these may be introduced in future. However, we consider that countries with actual higher levels of social discrimination against the non-religious will generally already meet other higher level (more severe) boundary conditions under this thematic strand.
Applied when overriding acts of oppression by the State are extreme, to the extent that the question of freedom of thought and expression is almost redundant, because all human rights and freedoms are quashed by authorities.
Countries: North Korea
Countries: Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Bahrain, Belize, Botswana, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Latvia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Madagascar, Malta, Moldova, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste (East Timor), Togo, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Countries: Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Belize, Brunei Darussalam, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Comoros, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Egypt, Eritrea, Fiji, Finland, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Kosovo, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Samoa, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Switzerland, Timor-Leste (East Timor), Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Yemen, Zimbabwe
Countries: Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Fiji, Finland, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Italy, Kiribati, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, New Zealand, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, Vanuatu, Venezuela
Countries: Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Guinea, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Libya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Morocco, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, Samoa, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Countries: Andorra, Armenia, Benin, Bhutan, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Republic of the, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Myanmar (Burma), Niger, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Timor-Leste (East Timor), Turkey, Uganda
Countries: Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bangladesh, Belize, Bolivia, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kiribati, Korea, Republic of, Kosovo, Kuwait, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vanuatu
This condition is applied where there are miscellaneous indicators that organs of the state offer various forms of support for a religion, or to religion in general over non-religious worldviews, suggesting a preference for those beliefs, or that the organs of that religion are privileged.
Countries: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belize, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Burundi, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Montenegro, Mozambique, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Rwanda, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, Tuvalu, United Kingdom, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Zimbabwe
Countries: Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Dominica, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Finland, Germany, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Kiribati, Korea, Republic of, Laos, Latvia, Liberia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Norway, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, Swaziland, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States of America, Vanuatu, Zimbabwe
This condition highlights countries where schools subject children to fundamentalist religious instruction with no real opportunity to question fundamentalist tenets, or where lessons routinely encourage hatred (for example religious or ethnic hatred). The wording “significant number of schools” is not given a rigid quantification (sometimes the worst-offending schools are unregistered, illegal, or otherwise uncounted); however the condition is not applied in cases where only a small number of schools meet the description and may be anomalous, as opposed to being indicative of a widespread problem.
Countries: Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guyana, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Myanmar (Burma), Nigeria, Oman, Palestine, Paraguay, Qatar, Russia, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Zimbabwe
Countries: Angola, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Congo, Republic of the, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ethiopia, Germany, Ghana, Haiti, Hungary, Italy, Jamaica, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritania, Mexico, Nepal, North Korea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Serbia, Singapore, Tajikistan, Tonga, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Zambia
Countries: Algeria, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Finland, Georgia, Haiti, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritania, Monaco, Morocco, Myanmar (Burma), Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Tunisia, Tuvalu, United Kingdom, Yemen, Zambia
Countries: Argentina, Armenia, Belize, Burundi, Cambodia, Chad, China, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Guinea, Haiti, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Jamaica, Jordan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Oman, Palestine, Peru, Philippines, Samoa, Swaziland, Switzerland, Thailand, Timor-Leste (East Timor), Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom, Zambia
Countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burundi, China, Grenada, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Morocco, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Vanuatu, Yemen, Zimbabwe
Countries: Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Benin, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kiribati, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Moldova, Morocco, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, Nigeria, Oman, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Thailand, Timor-Leste (East Timor), Tonga, Tunisia, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Countries: Algeria, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Comoros, Cyprus, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, Gambia, Germany, Grenada, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Poland, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Singapore, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Vanuatu, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Countries: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Denmark, Eritrea, Germany, Haiti, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Rwanda, Solomon Islands, Switzerland, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Vanuatu
Countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Brunei Darussalam, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Fiji, Gambia, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Macedonia, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen
This condition may apply if specifically religious education, religious materials, or specific religious denominations are so tightly controlled that children are in fact over-protected from exposure to religion and are likely unable to explore or construct their own worldview in accordance with their evolving capacities. This condition helps us to classify states (perhaps with secular constitutions) which have criminalized specifically religious beliefs or practices. This condition is not applied if the restricted beliefs or practices are found to be outlawed due to their being of an extremist variety. While this condition does not directly reflect discrimination against non-religious persons or non-religious ideas, it does represent an overall threat to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief; such restrictions could spill over to affect non-religious beliefs later; and they pose a risk of backlash against over-zealous secular authorities or even against non-religious individuals by association.
Countries: Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Bhutan, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chad, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, El Salvador, Finland, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Korea, Republic of, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Montenegro, Myanmar (Burma), Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Timor-Leste (East Timor), Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Yemen, Zimbabwe
The Constitution of the Russian Federation2http://www.constitution.ru/en/10003000-02.htm also promotes the principle of state secularism (neutrality in terms of belief) (Article 14). However, amendments to the Constitution passed into law through presidential decree on 4 July 2020, describes a “belief in God” as a core national value.3https://www.rferl.org/a/30704684.html; https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-53255964
The Constitution provides for the separation of powers between a legislative, an executive and a judicial branch, which is independent (Article 10). However, in practice, the power of the state is heavily centred on the role of the president. The constitutional amendment package passed also enables President Putin to reset his term-limit clock to zero, opening the way for him to run for re-election when his current six-year term expires in 2024, and again in 2030.
The Russian government has demonstrated a clear preference towards the Russian Orthodox Church. After the collapse of the Soviet Union there was a large upsurge in religious affiliation.4berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/essays/religious-freedom-in-russia
According to Article 4 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the President is the head of state, guarantor of the Constitution, human and civil rights and freedoms. They take measures in order to protect the sovereignty of the Russian Federation, ensure coordinated functioning of public authorities, and determine the main goals of domestic and foreign policy, while acting as Commander-in-Chief. The president addresses citizenship issues, gives national awards, and grants pardons. Numerous federal ministries, services and agencies work under direct supervision of the President of the Russian Federation.
In spring 2016, the powerful National Guard of the Russian Federation was created and appointed a federal executive body. The members of the National Guard not only have the right to check documents, personal belongings and transport, but to use physical force and firearms against suspects without warning, if delay “threatens somebody’s life and has staggering implications”. The Guard also reports to the President of the Russian Federation. The Guard has subsequently been used in the suppression of protest activities alongside police forces.
The President has a predominant role across the state system, having the right to dissolve the State Duma, and controlling all branches of the government. In fact, Russia has a presidential government with a pronounced imbalance of power, coupled with authoritarian tendencies in the person of Vladimir Putin, who has been President since the year 2000, except between 2008 to 2012 when he was Prime Minister.
The legislative branch on the federal level consists of the State Duma and the Federation Council. The legislative branch provides the foundation for executive and judicial branches, and creates a framework of society and government.
However, the violation by legislative authorities of the secularism guaranteed in the Constitution, as well as a low level of legal awareness, have given rise to bad law and human rights abuses. Freedom of conscience, religion or belief has been degraded under the Putin regime, usually with the agreement or to the benefit of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). State-run religious organizations (called “traditional”) are often used to legitimize unconstitutional initiatives. Relations between the legislative body of the secular state and religious organizations remain very close. Both parties take part in joint events: for example, Christmas Parliamentary Meetings, held in the premises of the State Duma, and attended by the deputies and ROC representatives.
On 14 December 2016, at the plenary meeting of the State Duma, the deputies unanimously decided to create a new Committee on Development of Civil Society and Civic and Religious Associations, as well as to appoint Sergei Gavrilov a chairman of the Committee.
On 26 January 2017, in the course of Christmas Parliamentary Meetings, the same committee, in cooperation with Synodal Department for Media and Public Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, held a roundtable meeting on the topic “Religion. Society. State.” While First Deputy Chairman of the Committee, Ivan Suharev, pointed out the necessity of regulating activities of “pseudo-religious” organizations and associations, the Chairman Sergei Gavrilov emphasized “joint constructive activities” between the government and “traditional” Russian churches.
Religious organizations are awarded additional benefits, including exemptions from VAT and from income tax on profits generated from economic activities. Exemptions from property tax are granted to religious organizations that use the property for religious activities.5cof.org/content/russia
Under Russian domestic law, provisions pertaining to the criminalisation of “extremist” speech are contained in several legislative acts, including: the Law on Counteraction to Terrorism, the Law on Combating Extremist Activity, the Criminal Code and the Code of Administrative Offences.6https://ehrac.org.uk/news/russias-overuse-and-misuse-of-anti-extremism-laws/
In 2016, President Putin adopted the ‘Yarovaya law’, ostensibly aimed at tightening measures in the fight against terrorism. The law fails to adequately define the term “extremism” thereby enabling the state to prosecute a vast range of nonviolent religious activity.7https://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/Russia.pdf; https://www.uscirf.gov/reports-briefs/special-reports/inventing-extremists-the-impact-russian-anti-extremism-policies/
Religious groups are required to obtain official permits. Activities such as prayer meetings are prohibited from taking place anywhere except for officially recognized religious buildings.8rferl.org/a/russia-yarovaya-law-religious-freedom-restrictions/27852531.html
In 2019, the Russian government also continued to use its anti-extremism law to prosecute Muslims—particularly adherents of the Islamic missionary movement Tablighi Jamaat and readers of the Turkish theologian Said Nursi—and Scientologists for peaceful religious activity.9https://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/Russia.pdf
In July 2020, Russian lawmakers proposed further changes to anti-extremism legislation with a view to suppressing opposition to the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.10https://www.rferl.org/a/russian-lawmakers-propose-expanded-extremism-law-aimed-at-crimea/30716700.html
The government introduced mandatory classes in Orthodox Christianity in all public schools. In 2013 the president Vladimir Putin has signed a bill into law that makes religious education mandatory in all schools in the country.11themoscowtimes.com/news/article/putin-approves-new-education-law/473783.html
Constitutional amendments that passed into law on 4 July 2020, reinforce the state’s anti-LGBTI+ stance by barring the possibility of same-sex marriage.13https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-53255964 The amendments followed a homophobic advertising campaign launched by Patriot Media Group to sway voters into voting for the constitutional amendments. The advert, set in 2035, showed two gay men in the process of adopting a child. A concerned and upset looking boy asks where his mother is, and the orphanage workers also look on with concern. The new mother, an effeminate male actor wearing eyeliner, gets out of the car. A voice in the background then asks viewers “Is this the Russia you choose?”. The voice then says, “Decide the future of your country and vote for the constitutional amendments”.14independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russia-putin-homophobic-gay-video-trolls-a9551186.html; pinknews.co.uk/2020/06/03/vladimir-putin-homophobia-advert-gay-parents-propaganda-russia-patriot-media-group/
Additionally, Human Rights Watch have raised concerns about a draft bill currently being considered by parliament that would significantly negatively affect the rights LGBTI+ people.15https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/08/06/russia-reject-anti-lgbt-traditional-values-bill
Under Russia’s current laws, transgender individuals can change their legal gender by taking steps that include a psychiatric evaluation and medical procedures. The proposed law provides that a person’s sex on their birth certificate cannot be changed, and that trans people who have changed their birth certificates under the current law would have to change them back to the sex they were assigned at birth.
Human Rights watch stated, “The new law falls into a pattern of the Russian government increasingly using so-called “traditional values” to trample human rights, particularly for LGBT people.”
Members of the LGBTI+ community have long faced harassment and violence. The adoption of the federal law “against the propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors” led to a huge spread of homophobic violence. Violating the law is punishable by a range of fines. Homophobic crimes count a high number of murders, grave physical violence. Foreigners who violate the law are subject to fines, up to 15 days in detention and deportation. There are many gangs in Russia who feel empowered to hunt and to bully, attack and even kill gay people.16pinknews.co.uk/2014/02/07/the-25-most-shocking-anti-gay-stories-from-russia-so-far/ In 2019, the law was used to censor LGBTI+ social media groups.17https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/08/06/russia-reject-anti-lgbt-traditional-values-bill
Radical groups justify homophobic attacks by equating homosexuality with paedophilia, and in January 2014 before the begin of Olympic winter games in Sochi President Putin said that “gay people are welcome in Sochi but they should leave children in peace”. Human Rights Watch said: “Such a chilling and wrongheaded message about LGBT people from Russia’s head of state is irresponsible and extremely dangerous.”18hrw.org/news/2014/02/03/russia-sochi-games-highlight-homophobic-violence
Muslims are the second largest religious group in Russia and there are severe tensions between Muslims and Russian Orthodox adherents. Ethnic Muslims account for approximately 25 million of Russia’s population.19http://muslimnews.co.uk/news/russia/russia-muslims-make-30-population-2034/; https://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/russia-population
Muslim leaders in Russia say that attempts to build more mosques in Moscow have been rejected or blocked by local officials who fear angering the ethnic Russians in the capital. For many ethnic Russians, the fact of becoming a minority in their country is unthinkable, and nationalist sentiments are dramatically on the rise. Attacks on mosques have been increasing.20sfgate.com/news/article/Russia-has-a-Muslim-dilemma-Ethnic-Russians-2466527.php
Since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, ethnic Tatar Muslims have faced considerable persecution, including being denied work, their language, their newspapers, and accused of extremism.21https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/05/18/crimean-tatars-ethnic-cleansing/ In 2019, the authorities conducted mass arrests of politically active Crimean Tatars, whom they accused of membership in the banned Islamic Party Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT). Many face lengthy prison sentences.22https://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/Russia.pdf
Reports also indicate that the state has sort to impose its own interpretation of what constitutes “traditional” Islam, which is seen as an inherent part of Russian culture. Anything which is not considered “traditional” is reportedly considered “extremist”.23https://www.trtworld.com/opinion/is-russia-on-the-path-to-marginalising-its-muslim-population-23927
In 2012 the Russian government adopted a law that required nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to register as “foreign agents” with the Ministry of Justice if their actions can be defined as political activities and they receive foreign funding. Since the definition of “political activity” is wide, it can also be extended to all activities of advocacy and human rights work.24hrw.org/news/2014/11/20/russia-government-against-rights-groups
In November 2013 a wave of demonstrations in neighbouring Ukraine began, protesters demanding closer European integration, following the suspension of the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement with the European Union, in order to seek closer economic relations with Russia. Pro-Russian counter-protests began and the political crisis escalated. Russia illegally annexed Crimea in March 2014. There is ongoing pro-Russian unrest in the eastern part of Ukraine.
On 28 June 2019, occupation authorities seized and closed the Cathedral of Vladimir and Olga in Simferopol, the main cathedral of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) in Crimea. Members reported to USCIRF that, since the occupation, the OCU has faced systematic persecution for its perceived ties to Ukrainian nationalism, including the confiscation of church property and the harassment of clergy and congregants. On 6 November 2019, a court in the western Crimean city of Yevpatoriya ordered the destruction of an OCU chapel.25https://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/Russia.pdf
The Russian authorities use a range of laws passed since Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency in May 2012 to control over the flow of information online and offline, stifling free expression in Russia.26https://pen-international.org/news/new-report-pen-international-highlights-russias-relentless-crackdown-on-free-expression According to PEN International,
“From recently introduced legislation that criminalises legitimate criticism of the government, to state-run media which act as propaganda tools, to libraries targeted for holding ‘extremist materials’, the space for free expression, civil society and dissent is shrinking fast in Russia.”
With few exceptions, Russian authorities or their affiliates own most media outlets, which have effectively become mouth pieces of the state. Independent journalists face huge pressure – legal, physical and economic – not to contradict the official line or provide coverage of critical viewpoints.
In 2013, President Putin signed a law amending the Federal Penal Code and incorporating a ‘blasphemy’ clause in part as a response to the Pussy Riot case in 2012.27https://time.com/5442791/pussy-riot-russia-poisoning-olga-kyrachyova-veronika-nikulshina/ The President’s Office stated that the law “introduces liability for public action that shows clear and obvious disrespect for society and intent to offend religious believers’ feelings.”28http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/18422
If convicted of offending religious believers, one can be sentenced to fines, corrective work, or imprisonment for up to a year, and up to three years if the crime is committed in a place of worship.
Since the ‘blasphemy’ law was introduced seven years ago, there have been 19 prosecutions under Article 148, 12 of which resulted in a conviction.30https://www.codastory.com/disinformation/russias-blasphemy-law/
Research shows that since the ‘blasphemy’ law was introduced in 2013, media and journalists tend to self-censor as they zealously avoid writing about religion due to the clause’s imprecise and unclear wording.31https://www.indexoncensorship.org/2015/11/blasphemy-law-has-resulted-in-growth-of-religious-censorship-in-russia/
On 1 April 2020, President Putin signed legislation imposing severe punishments for individuals and organisations convicted of spreading false information about the pandemic.32themoscowtimes.com/2020/04/01/russians-risk-fines-jail-time-for-dodging-coronavirus-quarantine-a69818 Free expression groups have raised concerns that the coronavirus pandemic may be used as a method to restrict the media and independent journalists.33article19.org/resources/russia-stop-restrictions-on-media-and-independent-journalists-under-the-cover-of-coronavirus/
In February 2019, Russian stand-up comedian Aleksandr Dolgopolov made jokes about Jesus, the Virgin Mary, 34https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-51222812 the Russian Orthodox Church35https://www.codastory.com/disinformation/russias-blasphemy-law/ and President Vladimir Putin’s supporters. A video of his act was uploaded on YouTube. A year later, after watching the video, an individual filed a complaint with the authorities alleging that Dolgopolov had “offended the feelings of religious believers”.36https://www.codastory.com/disinformation/russias-blasphemy-law/ In January 2020, the venue where Dolgopolov had performed was asked by the Ministry of Internal Affairs for information about the performance. Dolgopolov received news that the local police had opened an investigation into him under Article 148 of the Penal Code, the country’s ‘blasphemy’ provision. Fearing for his safety, Dolgopolov fled the country but has since returned to Russia.
On 17 August 2012, three members of Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich were convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” and sentenced to two years hard labor. Pussy riot is a feminist punk rock group with a freethinking message including being in favour of church-state separation. Their offense was to stage an impromptu protest performance (which was itself disrupted after only a few moments) called “Punk Prayer: Mother of God, Chase Putin Away!” at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. The Russian authorities were widely condemned by human rights organizations around the world for overzealous prosecution and harsh sentencing of the Pussy Riot singers. The judge cited what she regarded as Christianity’s dissent from the principles of women’s equality (contra the band’s explicit feminist values) to back the prosecution claim that the performance was motivated by “religious hatred”. After 21 months in prison, Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were released on December 23, 2013 after the Duma approved an amnesty. On 6 March 2014, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were assaulted and injured by youths in Nizhny Novgorod.
Ruslan Sokolovsky, an atheist blogger, faced a possible seven and a half year prison term for playing Pokémon Go in a church. He was convicted in May 2017 and handed a three and half year suspended sentence. The 22-year-old blogger had been held in pre-trial detention since October 2016, after he released a video of himself playing Pokémon Go in a church in Yekaterinburg, central Russia, that August. In the video he explains that a recent news report in Russia highlighted the apparent risks of playing the popular augmented reality video game in churches. However, in the video Sokolovsky discusses his disbelief that such actions would be prosecuted, and decides to test it by filming himself. He said of the threat of prosecution, “for me this is total bullshit, because who can ever be offended by you walking around a church with your smartphone?”37theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/11/pokemon-go-russian-youtuber-convicted-playing-church-ruslan-sokolovsky
“The public perception of atheism has been transformed in Russia, from the dominant ideology of the Soviet Union, into something that is considered indecent for intellectual people. The common perception is that humanism is wrong, dangerous or anti-spiritual.”
— Anonymous Russian humanist
|↑1, ↑9, ↑22, ↑25||https://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/Russia.pdf|
|↑30, ↑35, ↑36||https://www.codastory.com/disinformation/russias-blasphemy-law/|