MOSCOW -- An Experts Council that will give advice on religious publications has been formed by Russia's Justice Ministry, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.
Deputy Justice Minister Aleksei Velichko said at the council's first meeting on September 23 that its conclusions will be strictly nonbinding and are offered to provide general recommendations for state bodies regarding religious publications that may be banned for being extremist.
The Experts Council is headed by Vitaly Naumkin, a leading Russian expert on Islam and director of the Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow.
Representatives of several major religious denominations are also on the council.
Russian human rights groups have raised concerns about the rapid growth of the country's official list of extremist literature.
The list is maintained by Russia's Justice Ministry and includes all printed works deemed by courts to be extremist.
Rights groups charge that poorly advised officials and pressure from police officials are the reasons behind the list's expansion.
The idea to create an experts council to offer advice on publishing religious materials that do not get banned came from Russian Council of Muftis Chairman Ravil Gainutdin.