Moscow suggests US experts ask Russian scholars about religious freedom

The Russian Foreign Ministry and the Orthodox Church have rejected allegations in a US report of inequality of different faiths in Russia.

The US State Department cited in its 2010 Report on International Religious Freedom that “experts” complained about “the allegedly privileged status” of the Russian Orthodox Church. They also mentioned the “persecution” of religious sects in Russia.

At the same time, the authors of the report acknowledged “positive trends,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday.

However, the ministry had to issue a recommendation to US experts “to turn to authoritative Russian scholars for consultations.” The statement said that the situation is much better than foreign experts think.

According to the document, one could also talk about “the privileged position of the Roman Catholics in Italy and Poland, Islam in Turkey and Jordan, or Buddhism in India or Japan.”

The representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church also commented on the US report and said they were ready for dialogue and consultations with the US side.

Such reports should be “more objective,” Hieromonk Philipp (Ryabykh), deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, told Interfax.

The US experts could reflect different opinions, not only “claims of religious minority communities,” but also that of the Russian Orthodox Church, he said.

The report focuses on religious minority groups and ignores the right of other parts of society to preserve “its national and cultural tradition,” Hieromonk Philipp noted.  

But the positive side was that the US report considers “in detail” legal norms, state and public measures to “guarantee religious freedom,” he added.

Sergey Borisov, RT