Staunton, August 25 – The Russian government is increasingly repressing not only independent media outlets, something that has received a great deal of attention, but also charitable organizations and followers of various religious groups, something that has not, a group of Russian Christian activists say.
They are circulating a petition denouncing all these actions. They focus on the destruction of independent media not only because this is wrong in and of itself but because it is alienating Russians from one another and the state and keeping them from learning about the other repressions against charitable and religious groups (credo.press/238699/).
In recent weeks, the authorities have not only used charges of extremism and being “foreign agents” against the media but also against humanitarian groups like Civic Support which helps immigrants, No to Force which helps victims of violence, and the group, “We are Against HIV” which helps those infected with that disease.
According to the Christians’ petition, “the powers want to monopolize charitable activity and subordinate it to its interests which will limit the opportunities of those who seek real changes in society in a more humane direction.” And by attacking the media, they are seeking to hide what they are doing in this regard as well.
“The absence of information deprives people of the right to natural human solidarity and leaves us cut off from one another,” their petition continues. And that is why Christians and those who support their views “cannot agree” with the policies of the regime against the media and against humanitarian groups.
Those of us who can must protest, the appeal says, adding that the signatories are “concerned” by the silence of the church. “We call on all those who today can speak in the name of the church to protest against the destruction of freedom of speech in Russia, which has already led the country to sad and catastrophic consequences.”
If things continue, the church itself will suffer. Its failure to speak out has already hurt its image and has meant that groups the leadership of the church says it is supporting are suffering as well. The appeal calls on hierarchs and on fellow believers to speak out now, lest the situation deteriorate still further.