PACE criticizes Russian Orthodox Church

The session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is discussing Russia’s policy today, namely the issue if Russia executes its obligations regarding its memberships in PACE. PACE’s committee for monitoring made a report, which was devoted to the situation in the Chechen republic, the recent address of the Russian deputies to President Putin (the deputies called upon the president to cancel the death penalty moratorium), the situation with freedom of speech in Russia. PACE’s reporters reproached Russia with the fact that it had not withdrawn its troops from Transdniestr, with imposing the Russian language on the people of Moldavia, and so on.

Assembly President Peter Schieder has a positive attitude regarding both the changes, which have taken place in Russia over six years, and Russia’s work in the Europarliament. The committee for monitoring could not help paying attention to “special merits of President Putin, who put an end to the long period of instability in Russia,” as it was said in the report.

The speaker of Russia’s Federation Council, Sergey Mironov, is Russia’s representative in Strasbourg. The head of the Federation Council’s committee for international affairs, Mikhail Margelov stated that PACE could not find faults with Russia, “we react in a well-reasoned, calm way to every reproach.”

For example, Sergey Mironov analyzed the situation with freedom of speech in Western countries, as a response to PACE’s reproach concerning the situation with freedom of speech in Russia. Mironov stated that the situation in several Western countries was even worse in comparison with what is being criticized in Russia in this respect. Dmitry Rogozin (the chairman of the State Duma committee for international affairs) said that American Radio Liberty was acting impudently, “and now it broadcasts its programs in the Chechen language, taking the unambiguous position, supporting Chechen separatists.”

The representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe emphasized the bill “About traditional religious organizations,” which is currently being prepared by the Russian State Duma. So we may assume from this that PACE is very concerned about the growing role of the Moscow Patriarchy, and the Chechen issue is not that important anymore. They, at PACE, believe that the rights of other religious organizations are restricted in Russia. As it was said in the memorandum, “the state allowed the Russian Orthodox Church play a special, dominating role in the public and political life of the country, that orthodox priests had obvious advantages, that the Russian Church equated Russia and Orthodoxy, that the regional departments of the Ministry for Justice refused to re-register other religious organizations, like Jehovah's Witnesses, or the Moscow department of the Army of Salvation.

So, as you can see, we will not get bored with Europe. The Chechen issue is going into the background, now they are willing to deal with the Russian Orthodox Church. Well, Russia will simply have to clarify every point. But it will be a lot harder, when Russian parliamentarians will act as prosecutors. When Sergey Kovalev stands up and starts making unpleasant remarks regarding the actions of the Russian troops in Chechnya, or about the activity of the Russian Patriarchy, “which is willing to get back its influential position that it used to have for ages.”

Sergey Yugov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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