RUSSIA: Religious persecution and issues – Bimonthly Digest Oct. 16-31
31.10.2023 – A Muslim house of worship has been sealed in Moscow.
Sova – On October 26, 2023, law enforcement officers sealed the premises of Muslims in the Moscow district of Mitino.
The prayer house on General Beloborodov Street was used under a lease agreement by the local religious organization of Muslims “Dawn,” which is under the jurisdiction of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of the Russian Federation.
According to the chairman of the organization, Renat Khasyanov, the premises were sealed “after an inspection . ” Khasyanov noted that “the prayer house is visited by citizens of the Russian Federation . ”
30.10.2023 – Anti-Semitic actions in the North Caucasus
Sova – On October 28 and 29, 2023, a whole series of anti-Semitic protests took place in the North Caucasus. An anti-Israel rally took place in Makhachkala. In Cherkessk, protests were held demanding the expulsion of Jews from the region. In Khasavyurt, after a “people’s gathering” at the hotel, Israelis were prohibited from living in the hotel. A Jewish cultural center was set on fire in Nalchik. In Makhachkala, a crowd of protesters seized the airport in search of arriving Israelis.
30.10.2023 – Religious leaders commented on anti-Semitic actions in the North Caucasus
Sova Center – Religious leaders commented on the series of anti-Semitic actions that took place in the North Caucasus at the end of October 2023.
The Supreme Mufti of Dagestan, Akhmad Abdullayev, actually stood in solidarity with the pogromists, saying that he worries about the Muslims dying in Palestine and understands the indignation of the protesters, but considers their chosen path of protest against the presence of Israelis in the republic to be erroneous.
30.10.2023 – Action under anti-Semitic slogans in Moscow
Sova – On October 23, 2023, an action of solidarity with Palestine and Gaza was held in Moscow on the Yauz Gate square, at the monument to the Border Guards of the Fatherland. The rally brought together about 100 people standing with posters “Palestine, we are with you”, “Hands off Jerusalem”, “Freedom for Palestine”. The crowd, for example, shouted “Khaybar, Khaybar al Yahud” (a reference to Muhammad’s important military victory over the Jews in the settlement of Khaybar), thereby calling for armed struggle not only with Israel, but with Jews in general.
On October 21, 2023, a rally in support of Gaza was also held in Moscow near the Israeli Embassy on Bolshaya Ordynka. During the action, police detained nine activists, against whom reports of an administrative offense were drawn up for participating in an unauthorized meeting.
27.10.2023 – The State Duma adopted a law regulating the collection of donations by religious organizations
Sova – On October 18, 2023, the State Duma adopted in the third reading the law “On Amendments to Article 15-3 of the Federal Law “On Information, Information Technologies and Information Protection” and Article 16 of the Federal Law “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations.”
The law, in particular, supplements Art. 16 of the Law “On Freedom of Conscience” with a clause regulating the collection of donations in connection with religious services. The exclusive right to collect such donations is vested only in centralized religious organizations, local organizations included in their structure, as well as persons authorized by them:
26.10.2023 – The Patriarch is concerned about the possible loss of Russian identity due to the influx of migrants
Sova – On October 24, 2023, during a meeting with students of the Moscow Pedagogical State University, Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus’ Kirill touched upon the topic of migration. In his opinion, the massive attraction of cheap labor from abroad could lead to the loss of Russian identity.
25.10.2023 – The Court sentenced the previously acquitted Aleksey Khabarov to 2.5 years in prison
JW – On October 20, 2023, the Porkhov District Court of the Pskov Region issued a verdict in the case Aleksey Khabarov, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, for the third time. This time, judge Natalia Kapustina found him guilty of extremism and sentenced him to 2 years and 6 months in a general regime colony. He was taken into custody in the courtroom.
Khabarov’s accusation of extremism was based on ordinary religious activities. The believer explained: “Professing religion does not simply mean silently believing that there is a God. Jehovah’s Witnesses … study the Bible, discuss it with others, and try to live in harmony with what is written in the Bible.” In his final statement, he added: “My real motive — love — is directly opposite to enmity and hatred, which means that there is no subjective side of the crime. Consequently, there is no corpus delicti as such.” The believer has the right to appeal the court’s decision once again.
20.10.2023 – The Central Bank suspended the issue of new banknotes due to discontent among Orthodox Christians
Sova – The indignation of the Orthodox was caused by the new thousandth banknote issued by the Central Bank, on which the Orthodox Church is depicted without crosses. The Central Bank has suspended the issue of banknotes.
On October 16, 2023, the Central Bank introduced a new banknote in denomination of one thousand rubles. The reverse side of the banknote depicts the palace church in the Kazan Kremlin and the Syuyumbike tower. At the same time, the church is depicted without crosses, and the Syuyumbike tower is crowned with a crescent.
A number of Orthodox figures were outraged by this image. In particular, the Moscow region priest Pavel Ostrovsky suggested that such an image could be a “conscious provocation” of the designers.
The “Forty Forties” movement appealed to the Russian Investigative Committee and the prosecutor’s office with a demand to check the activities of the creators of the new banknote for signs of inciting religious hatred.
Deputy Chairman of the Synodal Department for Church Relations with Society and the Media of the Moscow Patriarchate Vakhtang Kipshidze called the depiction of churches without crosses a form of blasphemy, but in the case of the new banknote “there is no problem”, since the building depicted on the bill is not a church, but the Museum of the History of Statehood of the Tatar People .
Vladimir Legoyda, Chairman of the Synodal Department of the Moscow Patriarchate for Church Relations with Society and the Media, said that “the selection of images on banknotes should be approached more carefully. So as not to create tension where there may well not be any. And it simply shouldn’t be . ”
Some politicians shared the Orthodox outrage. For example, the chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building, Andrei Klishas, believes that “placing such an image on banknotes is at the very least unreasonable and even provocative . ”
On October 18, the Bank of Russia decided to suspend the issue of the banknote, not release it into wide circulation, and modify the design.
20.10.2023 – The Court of Cassation again rejected the appeal against the verdict of Svetlana Monis from Birobidzhan.
JW- On October 18, 2023, the Ninth Court of Cassation of Vladivostok confirmed the verdict and decision of the appellate instance against Svetlana Monis, 46, — 2.5 years of suspended imprisonment.
This is the second hearing in the Ninth Court of Cassation in Vladivostok. In 2019, Monis was accused of extremism for reading the Bible together with friends, singing religious songs, and saying prayers. The court of first instance imposed a fine. The appeal toughened the sentence, but the court of cassation overturned this decision.
17.10.2023 – Judicial statistics on cases of “illegal missionary” in the first half of 2023 have been published
Sova – On October 17, 2023, the Judicial Department of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation published statistical data on the application of Art. 5.26 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (violation of legislation on freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and religious associations) in the first half of 2023.
16.10.2023 – Another case of “illegal missionary” against the Muslim community in Kotelniki has been dropped
Sova – On October 9, 2023, the magistrate court of judicial district No. 346 of the magistrate judge of the Lyubertsy judicial district of the Moscow region dismissed the case under Part 4 of Art. 5. 26 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (carrying out missionary activities in violation of the requirements of legislation on freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and religious associations) against a local religious organization of Muslims in the city of Kotelniki due to the absence of an administrative offense in its actions.
16.10.2023 – In Chechnya, a case was filed against a Volgograd resident accused of burning the Koran.
Sova – Nikita Zhuravel, who recorded a video of the burning of the Koran in front of a mosque, is accused of insulting religious feelings and hooliganism. Investigations into the case were carried out in Chechnya.
On September 27, 2023, the Visaitovsky District Court of Grozny received a case against Volgograd resident Nikita Zhuravel, accused under Part 2 of Art. 148 of the Criminal Code (public actions expressing clear disrespect for society and committed with the aim of insulting the religious feelings of believers, committed in places specially designed for worship, other religious rites and ceremonies) and Part 2 of Art. 213 of the Criminal Code (hooliganism committed by an organized group by prior conspiracy based on religious hatred and enmity).