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Religious Associations as a National Security Threat: The Russian View in Light of European Standards

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For more content, see Review of Socialist Law.

This article focuses on the Russian practice of suppressing non-traditional religious associations under the guise of protecting national security. Russian legislation and case law are discussed in light of European standards concerning limitations of human rights, including the principles of legal certainty and proportionality. The author concludes that despite the declaration of the principle of ideological diversity and religious freedom in the Constitution of the Russian Federation (hereinafter, “the RF Constitution”), Russian lawmakers and the judiciary are wary of non-traditional religions, regarding them as a national security threat. This tendency is demonstrated by an analysis of registration requirements, as well as the country’s anti-extremism law and the relevant case law. The author examines the following problems of Russian regulation: the vagueness of the law on which the limitations are based and the weak argumentation of judicial decisions by which limitations are imposed. The author concludes that Russian legislation and the relevant case law strongly deviate from the standards set in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) and in the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Meanwhile, according to the RF Constitution, the ECHR is part of the Russian legal system and prevails over Russian laws. The author’s aim is to outline the space provided in Russian law for the abuse of non-traditional religions by Russian authorities.

Affiliations: 1: Saint Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russian Federation, <>


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