Freedom of Religion, Russian Style

  • Share
  • Read Later

MOSCOW: The recent "Buy Russian" campaign for Kremlin bureaucrats was extended to religion today when the Russian Duma voted to bar any religions from operating in the country unless they have been established there for more than 15 years. Denounced by human rights activists as trampling on Russian constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion, the bill is a boon for other traditional faiths such as Islam and Buddhism. But it's theRussian Orthodox Church that was the driving force behind the move. The church has increasingly seen its hold over Russian souls wrested away by foreign upstarts from Hare Krishnas to Mormons to Aum Shinri Kyo wannabe-cults. Calling on a war chest (supplied by its duty-free, multimillion dollar oil export and cigarette import deals, according to the Russian-language weekly Kapital), the Church wields enough political clout to squelch the competition -- and keep Russian souls at home.