Staunton, July 12 – The expert advisory council of the Russian Security Council on problems of neutralizing internal threats to national security says foreign governments are using non-traditional faiths against the Russian state and hat Moscow must adopt harsh new measures against them before before these groups can do any more harm.
Many officials appear to believe that when it comes to religion, anything goes; but in fact, foreign governments exploit such attitudes to use these non-traditional groups against the Russian state (sova-center.ru/misuse/news/lawmaking/2022/08/d46709/, scrf.gov.ru/news/allnews/3285/ and interfax.ru/russia/851663).
The experts said that no one should be allowed to violate the foundations of the constitutional system in the name of freedom of conscience or exert “a negative influence on the defense of the country and the security of the state,” an argument that appears to open the way for a sweeping new crackdown against non-traditional faiths.
In support of this effort, the advisory council called for defining in law the following terms: a destructive religious sect, a foreign religious organization, a traditional religion (confession), a non-traditional religion (confession), religious extremism, religious radicalism and religious fundamentalism.
Were the Russian government to define these terms, that might provide some protection to believers because up to now Moscow has preferred to keep its own definitions hidden and flexible so that it can deploy its forces against those it chooses to and not do so against those who are its allies.
But at the same time, any effort to implement the advisory council’s appeal will lead to repression; and any effort to define these terms in the legal code will freeze the situation with regard to believers in the Russian Federation in ways that will work against all by the Russian Orthodox Church and its few remaining allies.