Staunton, June 25 – The approval by the Duma of the so-called Yarova-Ozerov package of legislation will among other things drive many followers even of Russia’s “traditional” religions into the underground, leading them to ignore the official leaders of these faiths and opening the way to their radicalization, thus restoring the pattern of the late Soviet period.
And by so doing, Russia’s latest “anti-terrorist” effort is likely to lead to more terrorism rather than less, although some commentators are hoping that the provisions of this draconian new law will be mitigated in the usual Russian way by the impossibility of enforcing it or the unwillingness of officials to do so.
The Yarovaya-Ozerov packet – the full text of the final version of which is available at asozd2.duma.gov.ru/main.nsf/%28Spravka%29?OpenAgent&RN=1039101-6
business-gazeta.ru/article/314859) and in the SOVA Center (sova-center.ru/religion/news/authorities/legal-regulation/2016/06/d34888/
(On that, see ria.ru/religion/20160623/1449861755.html.) The Duma has a special forum for that, but, the deputies did not consult with any religious group. “This was an unjustified step,” Krganov said.
Moreover, the provisions of the law and the failure of the deputies two consult will, he suggested, “lead to the radicalization of Islamic society in the country,” with many “simply going underground and no longer listening to official religious workers.” That in turn will lead to “a split within the Islamic community,” something no one can possibly want.
In its evaluation of the final version of the law, the religious affairs experts at SOVA said that there had been some “small changes” in the language which marginally improved things but that “the repressive character of the amendments had been preserved.” Indeed, in one sense, although SOVA does not mention this, they may have been made worse.
That is because while the final version restricted the definition of missionary activity, it did so in a way that will reinforce the notion of “ethnic” believers, the idea that members of some nationalities are historically Orthodox and others are historically Muslim or Buddhist or something else and one that Patriarch Kirill has frequently supported.
The final version of the law limits restrictions on missionary activity to activities intended to spread a faith beyond those “who are not participants (members or followers) of a given religious union.” If that is interpreted as the Moscow Patriarchate is likely to, it will mean the Orthodox Church can go after ethnic Russians but that no other church will be allowed to.