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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Report: Religion Again Under Fire

Is the Russian parliament reintroducing controls over religious groups?

This is the conclusion of the newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta, which reported Thursday that a new parliamentary subcommittee has been created to "manipulate" the activity of religious groups.

The Expert-Consultative council of parliament's Committee on Freedom of Conscience, Religious Belief, Mercy and Philanthropy was established by a Nov. 23 parliament resolution that was never published, the paper said.

The paper made a clear parallel between the new council, and the Committee on Religious Affairs - the Soviet organization that ensured close control over church activities by the Communist Party Central Committee and the KGB.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta said that the new council's purpose is to collect information on registered religious and atheistic groups. Religious groups are required to give the council any information it needs.

Quoting from parliament's resolution, the paper said that the council "conducts reviews of registered religious and atheist groups and analyzes the degree of compliance with the law of their activities".

"If it goes on like this, instructions on christening or circumcision will be decided by empowered state organs", the paper said.

While no clergymen sit on the new council, it does have several members from the Foreign, Security and Culture Ministries, the Security Council and the Institute of State and Law of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the paper said.