Russian Legislation Against Religious Extremism Advances

Still Needs Approval of Upper House of Parliament

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MOSCOW, JULY 3, 2002 ( A presidential bill banning religious organizations engaging in «extremist activity» has passed the lower house of the Russian Parliament on June 27 by a vote of 274-145.

To become law, the bill still needs approval from the upper house of Parliament and President Vladimir Putin, who proposed it, the Keston News Service reported.

The legislation relates to religious and social activity as well as other organizations and the media. The law’s definition of «extremist activity» is the same as in an earlier draft approved June 20, but differs significantly from the first.

Article 1 now lists extremist activity as «the planning, organization, preparation for or execution of actions aimed at the forcible change of the constitutional order or violation of the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation.»

It also lists: «the undermining of the security or the assumption of the governing powers of the Russian Federation; the creation of illegal armed formations; terrorist activity; the incitement of racial, ethnic or religious discord or social discord in connection with violence or calls for violence; humiliation of national dignity; the organization of mass unrest, hooliganism or acts of vandalism motivated by ideological, political, racial, ethnic or religious hatred or hatred toward a particular social group; the propaganda of exclusivity, superiority or inferiority of citizens on account of their attitude towards religion, social status, race, nationality, religion or language.»

The bill, approved last week, restored some notable elements from the working text of the legislation.

One of these appears to indicate that a whole organization may be liable for prosecution should only one of its subdivisions be found to have committed «extremist activity (extremism).»

According to Article 7, an initial warning is to be sent to social, religious, or other organizations «should facts come to light testifying to the presence of activity bearing the hallmarks of extremism in their activities, including in the activities of only one of their regional or other structural subdivisions.»

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