ECHR refuses Russian Federation appeal in religious recognition case


The European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) has refused to review an appeal filed by the Russian Federation over a decision in favour of the Church of Scientology.

The case concerned the refusal of St. Petersburg authorities to officially recognise the Church of Scientology in St. Petersburg as a legal entity.

The group had applied for registration six times, from March 1995 to August 2003. The first application was filed in March 1995, but two years later had still received no answer.

ruflagThe Russian Justice Ministry had said that the application was transferred to a State Duma committee, for evaluation by an expert in religious and legal matters, who had not replied.

A new registration request was filed in February 2002, but rejected one month later for supposed discrepancies in the required paperwork. Four further registration requests were filed, but all were refused for varying reasons.

St. Petersburg district court upheld the rejections in October 2003, and was supported by an appeals court in 2006.

The applicants took the case to the ECHR in November 2006, citing Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion), and Article 11 (the right to freedom of assembly and association).

The Russian Federation response to the ECHR accepted that the rejections were in violation of the freedom of religion, saying that their decision was based on Russian law and security reasons.

The ECHR ruled in favour of the Church of Scientology, with an award of 7,500 EUR as moral damages compensation.

The Russian Federation then requested that the case be referred to the ECHR Grand Chamber. This latest ruling by the ECHR has denied any further appeal, and the ruling in favour of the Church of Scientology will now come into effect.



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