Staunton, July 12 – The Russian government topped the list of 34 regimes around the world which inflicted damage on the properties of religious organizations during 2012 (the last year for which data is available), Tajikistan ranked third, and three other former Soviet republics were in the top 12, according to data published by the Pew Research.
Pew found that the governments of Russia, China and Tajikistan each committed more than 100 such actions and that the governments of Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan each committed between 10 and 99. Those of Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Ukraine were among the 22 which inflicted damage on between one and nine religious institutions (pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/07/10/a-look-at-the-damage-governments-inflict-on-religious-property/).
Pew says that “such actions were most common in the Middle East-North Africa region,” seven of whose 20 predominantly Muslim countries made the list. But if one considers the former Soviet space as a region, it had an even worse record: the governments of eight of the 12 former Soviet republics were on this list – or eight of the 15 if one includes the three occupied Baltic states.
Moreover, while the post-communist countries of Eastern Europe, including Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, avoided this list altogether, the continuing impact of communism on the treatment of religion is striking not only in the former Soviet space but in three remaining communist countries: China ranks second; Cuba is in the second tier; and Vietnam in the third.