Orthodox Church wants exclusion from “foreign agent” law
Religious non-governmental organizations will be withdrawn from coming law giving the brand “foreign agents” to groups receiving funding from abroad.
The bill branding non-governmental organizations involved in “political activity” and receiving grants from abroad as “foreign agents” was approved in the first reading by the State Duma last Friday. Now, the Russian Orthodox Church is afraid the law could strike their activity.
With Patriarch Kirill the Orthodox Church has become a political power in Russia, more linked with Kremlin than the Church was during the period of former Patriarch Alexei II. The Church receives grants from abroad.
Therefore, the Church now asks the State Duma legislators to make amendments to the NGO law so that it would not affect the activities of religious organizations, Russian Legal Information Agency reports.
The request from the Church gets support by State Duma deputies and amendments is filed for the second reading of the NGO bill, supposed to take place on July 13. Author of the bill, United Russia’s Aleksandr Sidyakin confirms that religious organizations will be excluded.
"The intention of the bill was not directed towards them, to include them in the law. We have a multicultural country. All organizations that receive foreign aid, about a thousand federal and, I think there are 152 religious," Sidyakin told Kommersant today.
The Church says it is not involved in politics.
"We propose that there should be some provisions stating that religious organizations are not subject to this status, so as to prevent the church from being accused of using its influence in politics," archpriest Georgy Roshchin said according to the Russian Legal Information Agency.
In the Norwegian, Russian border land, local Norwegians have recently provided grants to rebuild the Church in Nikel that was destroyed in a fire some years ago.