Violation of religious freedom in Russia through exclusive cooperation agreements with the Russian Orthodox Church
WRITTEN QUESTION E-2041/03
by Maurizio Turco (NI)
to the Commission
The 1993 Constitution proclaims that Russia is a secular state in which there is no state religion and religious organisations are separate from the state and equal before the law.
The 1997 federal law on religion establishes that religious organisations may not exercise the functions of state institutions and may not accompany the proceedings of government bodies with religious ceremonies.
In view of the cooperation agreements concluded by the Russian Orthodox Church:
- with the Ministry of Defence in 1997 with a view to 'working together to revive Orthodox traditions in the Russian army and navy',
- with the Ministry of Education in August 1999 with a view to 'educating the young generations in the spirit of old moral values' (including, in particular, numerous attempts by the Russian Orthodox Church to bolster its influence within the Russian education system),
- with the Ministry of Health and the Foreign Ministry on 5 and 6 March 2003 respectively,
- with many Russian local authorities,
and given that the constant increase in concordat agreements between the Russian Orthodox Church and various state bodies, both at federal and at local levels, has conferred on this Church special powers, thereby discriminating against other religious faiths, and given it special and exclusive access to prisons, the army, schools and hospitals,
will the Commission state:
- whether it is aware of the above cooperation agreements between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian State, discriminating against other religious faiths?
- what measures it intends to take to ensure that religious freedom is restored in Russia, as required by the Russian Constitution and the federal law on religion?