Title

Status of the Russian Religious Law

Thursday, February 12, 1998
538 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington D.C., DC 20002
United States
Members: 
Name: 
Hon. Chris Smith
Title Text: 
Commissioner
Body: 
Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
Moderator(s): 
Name: 
Dorothy Taft
Title Text: 
Chief of Staff
Body: 
Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
Witnesses: 
Name: 
Dr. James Billington
Title: 
Librarian
Body: 
Library of Congress
Name: 
Dr. Anatoly Pchelintsev
Title: 
Director
Body: 
Christian Legal Center of the Institute on Religion and Law, Moscow
Name: 
Rachel Denber
Title: 
Deputy Director
Body: 
Human Rights Watch, Europe and Central Asia Division
Name: 
Micah Naftalin
Title: 
National Director
Body: 
Union of Councils

Congressman Chris Smith and other lawmakers criticized the Russian Federation law on freedom of conscience and religious organizations signed by Boris Yeltsin for the threats it posed to religious liberty for minority religious faith. The scope of the law, including the terms of its formal implementations regulations and its actual implementation on the ground were topics of discussions.

Those who testified at the briefing provided their insights on this law, its status at the time, and their perspective of developments in Russia in light of the law. Dr. James Billington, a distinguished author and Russian scholar, spoke to the decline in the standard of living and social services that the Russian people had suffered in the post-Soviet era. Another witness, Dr. Anatoly Pchelintsev, Director of the Christian Legal Center of the Institute on Religion and Law in Moscow, attributed the existence of the law to the tide of nationalist and Communist movements that were on the rise in Russia.

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Leadership: 
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