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  • mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato


    » 07/01/2013, 00.00

    RUSSIA

    Criticised by pro-democracy activists, Russia's anti-blasphemy law comes into effect

    Nina Achmatova

    Anyone who offends the "religious feelings" could get hefty fines (US$ 15,000) and up to three years in prison. Doubts linger about the law's vagueness but for the Russian Orthodox Church, the new legislation is still "too mild."

    Moscow (AsiaNews) - As of today, anyone "Causing offense to the feelings of religious believers" faces up to three years in prison, after President Vladimir Putin signed into law the so-called anti-blasphemy bill. Under the legislation, Moscow has increases penalties and fines for those who insult the feelings of religious believers. Although backing the law, the Russian Orthodox Church finds the legislation not harsh enough.

    "Public acts that manifest patent disrespect for society and are committed with the aim of offense to the religious feelings of believers" are punishable with fines of a maximum of 300,000 roubles (US 9,000) or the offender's salary for a maximum period of two years, compulsory labour for up to one year, or a maximum prison term of one year if such acts are committed outside places of worship or other religious sites.

    If the offense is committed in religious places, the fine goes up to 500,000 roubles (US$ 15,000), three years of community service and three years of imprisonment.

    The measures are contained in amendments to Article 148 of the Criminal Code on "Obstruction of the Exercise of the Right of Liberty of Conscience and Religious Liberty".

    Another part of the bill deals with "deliberate public acts of vandalism" against religious literature, "items of religious veneration" or religious symbols.

    Such acts carry fines of 30,000 to 50,000 roubles (US$ 900 to 1,500) or compulsory labour for a period of up 120 hours for ordinary people and fines of between 100,000 and 200,000 roubles (US$ 3,000 to 6,000) for officials.

    The new law would also raise the maximum fine for the obstruction of religious activities as allowed by Article 148 from 80,000 (US$ 2,500) to 300,000 roubles (US$ 9,000).

    Following the Pussy Riot scandal, the Moscow Patriarchate has pushed hard for the new law. During the incident, members of the feminist punk rock band staged an anti-Putin performance in Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow last year.

    Two of the women who participated in the so-called "punk prayer" are serving a two-year sentence in a labour camp for "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred."

    A series of acts of vandalism against religious symbols in different parts of the country followed the incident, with icons soiled and crosses torn and broken.

    Although the law has been criticised within the Russian Orthodox Church for its severity, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, head of the Russian Orthodox Church's Department for the Cooperation of Church and Society, described the new penalties as "too mild," saying that three years in prison "are not enough."

    In an interview with Channel Mir-24, Chaplin noted that the actions banned by the new law "are very serious" and could lead to true "bloodshed".

    Earlier, anonymous sources within the Moscow Patriarchate told AsiaNews that, "Unfortunately, rather than educate society, this leads to repression,"

    For their part, human rights activists are concerned that anyone who criticises the close relationship between the Church and the state might be censored to protect religious feelings.

    The Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights had criticised the first draft, saying that the wording was too vague and could result in the miscarriage of justice.

    One drafters of the law, Mikhail Markelov, a Duma Member for the ruling party United Russia, responded to the criticism citing recent surveys by Vtsiom State institute, according to which 82 per cent of Russians are in favour of the new law.

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    See also

    18/02/2004 russia
    Kasper in Moscow: Russian Catholics' hopes and expectations
    An interview with Viktor Krul', editor in chief  of Svet Evanghelia in Moscow

    14/02/2012 RUSSIA
    Religion becomes a compulsory subject in all Russian schools
    Putin signs a decree to introduce the fundamentals of religion at a national level. From September, pupils can choose between Orthodoxy, Buddhism, Judaism and Islam, or opt for "moral ethics".

    31/07/2014 RUSSIA - UNITED STATES
    For Orthodox Church, Moscow can do what it wants in state-religion relations
    Speaking about the US State Department report on international religious freedom, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations, said "We have the right to create our model."

    11/10/2012 RUSSIA
    Pussy Riot are separated, but vow protest will continue
    Appeal grants suspended sentence to one of the three activists. Confirmed the sentence of two years in a penal colony for the other two. The Church hopes that the freedom granted to one member will not lead to new blasphemous actions.

    07/02/2011 RUSSIA
    Media accuse Patriarch Kirill of being state official
    President Medvedev addresses close of the Council of Russian Orthodox bishops. Debate continues in the media about the growing cooperation between church and state in Russia. Priests invited to stand for election in "exceptional cases".



    Editor's choices

    CHINA - VATICAN
    Vatican silence over Shanghai’s Mgr Ma Daqin causing confusion and controversy

    Bernardo Cervellera

    For some, Mgr Ma’s blog post praising the Patriotic Association and acknowledging his mistakes is nothing but “dirt”. For others, he chose humiliation for the “sake of his diocese”. Many wonder why the Holy See has remained silent about the article’s content and the bishop’s persecution. Some suspect the Vatican views the episode in positive terms. Yet, the Ma Daqin affair raises a major question. Has Benedict XVI’s Letter to Chinese Catholics (which describes the Patriotic Association as “incompatible with Catholic doctrine”) been abolished? If it has, who did it? A journey of compromises without truth is full of risks.


    CHINA – VATICAN
    Mgr Ma Daqin: the text of his “confession”

    Mons. Taddeo Ma Daqin

    Four years after quitting the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, the bishop of Shanghai “admits” his faults on his blog, praising the organisation that controls the Church. We publish his article, almost in its entirety. Translation by AsiaNews.


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