From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Russian Religious Freedom Expert Shares Concerns

Date 08 Apr 2000 02:11:14

April 8, 2000
Adventist Press Service (APD)
Christian B. Schaeffler, Editor-in-chief
Fax +41-61-261 61 18
CH-4003 Basel, Switzerland

Russian Religious Freedom Expert Shares Concerns 
at Adventist World Headquarters

Silver Spring, Maryland, USA.   Anatoly Krasikov, 
president of the Moscow chapter of the 
International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA) 
and former Yeltsin aide, spoke out during a 
meeting on March 29 at the Seventh-day Adventist 
Church World Headquarters.

Asked about the prospects for religious freedom in 
Russia, Krasikov pointed to recent changes in the 
country's leadership.

"On the one hand, President Vladimir Putin, in his 
mid-January declaration, emphasised that it should 
be remembered that Russia is multi-religious and 
that religious liberty must be safeguarded," said 
Krasikov. "But on the other hand, Putin also made 
sure that the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox 
Church was present in the transfer of power and 
given a bodyguard from the Kremlin. In this way 
one can see that the same line adopted by 
President Yeltsin is being adopted."

Krasikov said he wanted to remain hopeful for the 
future, but there were aspects of concern, 
especially in the area of church and state.

"We always hope for the best. Russia, after all, 
is not like Turkmenistan, which is now worse than 
North Korea in its religious freedom and human 
rights violations. United States founding father 
James Madison warned that 'When there is a union 
of state and church, this has often resulted in 
using religion to uphold political tyranny.' 
Madison's warning has proved extraordinarily true 
for many countries.

On the territory of the former Soviet Union, there 
are some new states, for example, Turkmenistan, 
where this political tyranny already exists."

Illustrative of the religious intolerance of the 
government of Turkmenistan is its actions in 
bulldozing an Adventist Church and imprisoning and 
expelling Baptist and Adventist pastors.

Krasikov also warned against those who wished to 
use religion in government.

"A considerable part of the political elite and 
part of the Orthodox clergy continue to undertake 
great efforts in an attempt to turn Orthodoxy into 
a new government ideology. Supporters of the 
clericalisation of the government, acting within 
the Russian Orthodox Church, are trying to bring 
potential members into the church by means of 
secular authority."

In response to the argument that such matters are 
purely internal matters for individual countries, 
Krasikov pointed to the resolution of the Moscow 
Conference of the Organisation for Security and 
Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 1991. "Questions 
concerning the rights of man, fundamental 
freedoms, democracy and supremacy of law, are of 
an international nature. These questions are 
independent of any domestic issues of any 
respective government." 

Krasikov has been in the United States for three 
months working at the Woodrow Wilson Center 
researching the subject "Religious Factors in 
Politics." He attended Congressional hearings and 
held a number of interviews during his stay. 
[Reporter: Jonathan Gallagher]

Browse month . . . Browse month (sort by Source) . . . Advanced Search & Browse . . . WFN Home