A Russian Orthodox service (file photo) (ITAR-TASS)
MOSCOW, March 18 -- The Russian government today criticized a U.S. congressional resolution urging Russia to better protect religious freedom.
The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the U.S. House of Representatives had launched what it called "its umpteenth anti-Russian resolution."
The statement said U.S. laws on religious freedom were themselves "unusual," but it did not go into detail.
The House of Representatives nearly unanimously passed a resolution on March 15 saying Russia should fully protect the freedoms of all religious communities, whether registered and unregistered.
It also urged an end to harassment of unregistered religious groups by the security apparatus and other government agencies.
Russian President Vladimir Putin celebrating Orthodox Christmas (CTK, file photo)
RELIGION AND SOCIETY: On December 21, 2005, RFE/RL's Washington office hosted a panel discussion on issues related to religious freedom in the former Soviet Union. Panelists included CATHERINE COSMAN, a senior policy analyst for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; FELIX CORLEY, editor of the Forum 18 News Service; and JOHN KINAHAN, Forum 18 assistant editor.
Cosman argued in her presentation that the Russian Orthodox Church receives preferential treatment from the government. She also expressed concern about the estimated 50,000 skinheads active in Russia. Corley focused on Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, arguing that many governments in the region "fear institutions they can't control." Kinahan's presentation concentrates on the Uzbek government's assertions that Islamist extremists were behind the May uprising in Andijon.
LISTEN Listen to the complete panel discussion (about 90 minutes):Real Audio Windows Media
Central Asia: Region Returns To Muslim Roots
Central Asia: Regional Leaders Try to Control Islam
Unholy Alliance? Nationalism And The Russian Orthodox Church
THE COMPLETE STORY:
A thematic webpage devoted to issues of religious tolerance in RFE/RL's broadcast region and around the globe.