WASHINGTON — The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe today announced a forthcoming hearing:
The Status of Religious Liberty in Russia Today
Thursday, February 17
2:30 p.m.—4:30 p.m.
Room B-318, Rayburn House Office Building
Open to Members, Staff, Public and Press
Scheduled witnesses include:
His Excellency Ambassador Robert Seiple, Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, U.S. Department of State
Anatoly Krasikov, Chairman, Russian Chapter, International Association for Religious Liberty, Moscow, Russia
Pastor Igor Nikitin, Chairman, Union of Christians, St. Petersburg, Russia
Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Director of the Washington Office, American Friends of Lubavitch, speaking for Rabbi Beryl Lazar of the Marina Roshcha Synagogue, Moscow, Russia Other witnesses have been invited.
Background: Since passage of Russia’s “Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations” in 1997, there has been concern that Russia is retreating from its previous post-Soviet commitment to, and legal protection of, freedom of religious practice. The U.S. State Department’s 1999 Report on Religious Freedom called the 1997 law “restrictive and potentially discriminatory,” noting that “[the law] has led to curbs on religious groups in some regions.” At least one missionary from the United States has been denied permission to re-enter Russia to continue his work with a Baptist church in the Russian Far East. A November 1999 ruling by the Russian Constitutional Court eased restrictions imposed on religious organizations that had been established prior to the passage of the 1997 law.