Russia says U.S. Religious Freedom Report biased
( RIA Novosti ) - The Russian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that The International Religious Freedom Report 2007, released by the U.S. State Department September 14, is prejudiced.
The ministry's Press and Information Department said the report is biased, exaggerating the problems of believers in some countries and playing them down in others.
It said the report is speculative and manipulates facts, stressing that the Russian Constitution guarantees religious freedoms and the equality of citizens before the law.
It also said the state has to intervene when the activity of a certain religious organization moves outside the law and threatens people or society.
The International Religious Freedom Report 2007 said in particular that the 1997 law "On Freedom of Conscience and Associations" continued to seriously disadvantage some religious groups considered nontraditional, and that "there were indications that the security services, including the Federal Security Service (FSB), treated the leadership of some Islamic groups as security threats."
It cited restrictions on religious freedom such as the registration of religious organizations, "access to places of worship (including access to land and building permits), visas for foreign religious personnel, and government harassment of religious organizations or individuals."
It said that the authorities "rarely prosecuted or sentenced those arrested for attacks and vandalism against religious minorities," while the state "used counter-terrorism to commit serious violations of religious freedom against the Muslim population."