Russia registers 9,000 religious groups

BBC Monitoring Former Soviet Union/December 31, 2000

Russia has completed the re-registration of religious associations. According to preliminary data of the Ministry of Justice, more than 9,000 organizations have been registered in the three years since the law "On freedom of conscience" was adopted. This is around 60 per cent of the number of groups that proclaimed themselves as religious in the democratic process of the 1990s.

The head of the religious associations section of the Ministry of Justice, Viktor Korolev, told the ITAR-TASS correspondent in an interview today that most of those have either broken up or have failed to present sufficient information to get themselves re- registered. As regards the classification of faiths, there are now about 60 confessions in Russia (there were 40 a decade ago). In addition to the traditional Christian, Muslim, Judaic and Buddhist organizations, as well as Protestants, some completely new faiths have appeared.

These include the Last Testament Church, Baha'i, the Salvation Army and the neopagan organization (?Ashmari Chemari). Some organizations which have been the subject of litigation in recent years, including the so-called Unification Church established around 50 years ago by the Korean Sun Myung Moon, have been registered.

Detailed statistics on the number of religious organization in Russia will be published in February after data from all Russian regions has been processed.

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