Russian Justice Ministry plans control of religious organisation finances

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The Russian Ministry of Justice is planning to obtain approval on a proposal that will allow them greater control over the finances of some religious institutions.

The new powers will amend the law “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations”, if a bill that the ministry is submitting to the State Duma is approved. Religious organizations that receive funding from overseas would be forced to submit financial reports to the ministry. Religious organizations which failed to hand over requested financial documents would risk liquidation.

dumaThe proposal suggests that religious organizations should keep financial records that distinguish between foreign and domestic sources of funding. All funds originating abroad will be subject to government scrutiny, a process that is to include both planned and unannounced inspections.

An advisor on religion for the Ministry of Justice suggested that certain organizations, such as Mormonism, the Church of Scientology and Hindu sects could come under fire if the law is successfully passed.

The Supreme Court approved Russia’s first region-wide ban in 2014 (in Samara) of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, having branded them as “extremist”.

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