In accordance with Russian Federal Law No. 374 – FZ of 6 July 2016, a law presented as Russia’s response to the threat posed by ISIS/Daesh, Baptist Minister Donald Ossewaarde was charged with “unlawfully conducting missionary activity”. He was fined 40 000 roubles for holding Bible studies and prayer meetings in his home and conducting “rituals and ceremonies” associated with religious activities without permission. In September, he lost his appeal in the Russian Courts. In addition, there are a number of other cases reported where Christians and members of other religions have been charged in similar circumstances in recent months.
It should be noted that one aspect of this new counter-terrorism law is its definition of “missionary activity” and the criminalisation of missionary activity “incompatible with the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and the other constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens”. Included in the definition of such prohibited missionary activity is the “use of undue influence and pressure on people, including the vulnerable, or using threats of violence and other illegal acts”. It is evident that this new law is being used to infringe disproportionately on the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, guaranteed by Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and other related rights under various international conventions.
To ask the Committee of Ministers: