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Russia: Senator Urges Yeltsin To Veto Religion Law

Washington, 8 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - An influential U.S. senator has asked Russian President Boris Yeltsin to veto a new law that the senator says threatens religious freedom.

Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana), vice chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, says if the law is enacted, human rights in Russia will suffer a serious setback.

A spokesman for Lugar says the senator appealed to Yeltsin in a letter sent to Moscow today. There was no immediate word on whether Yeltsin is yet aware of the letter.

Lugar called on Yeltsin to veto a law on religious association which has been approved by both chambers of the Russian parliament. The law says religious organizations must wait 15 years after first registering before they can be officially established. It also imposes new curbs on religious activity by foreign groups.

Lugar says the law violates human rights covenants that Russia has signed.