Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Russia Protects Established Big Religion, Revives Soviet Era Mandating Finking

"Yarovaya's Law" to Buttress Establishment Religious Monopoly, 
bans religious meetings outside established institutions
passed July 6, 2016
to take effect today- July 20, 2016

From wikipedia:
Irina Anatoleyvna Yarovaya (Russian: Ири́на Анато́льевна Ярова́я; born in Makiivka, Donetsk Oblast, Ukrainian SSR, October 17, 1966) is a Russian political figure, Member of the State Duma from United Russia Party and member of United Russia's General Council. She was elected to the 5th State Duma of the Russian Federation (2007) and 6th State Duma of the Russian Federation (2011). In December 21, 2011, she became the Head of the Parliamentary Committee for Security and Anti-Corruption.[1]
She authored or co-authored multiple laws, including the toughening of responsibility for violating the rules of holding rallies, tightening immigration, criminal libel and registration requirements for 'foreign agents' for non-profit organizations with foreign funding. In 2014, she sponsored a bill prohibiting rehabilitation of Nazism.[2] Another law known as the Yarovaya-Ozerov bill required in particular that telecommunications providers record all of their traffic and keep the record for three years (later shortened to six months). The first version of this counter-terrorism bill would have made it a criminal offense to fail reporting suspicious activities potentially linked with terrorism. This bill's language was subsequently watered down by the Duma.[3][4]

Yarovaya is generally considered a reactionary, in that she sponsored laws limiting civil freedom in the name of security.[5] She was accused of producing low-quality bills possibly contradicting the Constitution of Russia.[4][6][7]

From 1997 to 2007, she was a member in Yabloko Party, and was elected to the Council of People's Deputies of Kamchatka Oblast, where she served as head of the Kamchatka Regional Council, member of the Party's Central Bureau and Vice-Chairman of Yabloko.[8]

On 27 June 2016, she was included to the election list of United Russia as a frontrunner in the Far East region, which virtually guarantees that she is going to be elected to the 7th State Duma in September 2016.[9]

From Human Rights Watch

Tanya Lokshina

Russia Program Director

UPDATE (June 24, 2016): The revised bill was finally published on the morning of June 24, the day of the voting. The lawmakers did eliminate the provisions on stripping Russian nationals of their citizenship. The other deeply problematic draft amendments described below remained practically unchanged. At around 12.30 pm the State Duma of the Russian Federation passed the "Yarovaya Law."

On June 24, its very last day in session before the summer break and the September parliamentary election, the lower chamber of Russia’s parliament is planning a final vote – without any meaningful debate or scrutiny – on a set of legislative amendments that severely undermine freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, and the right to privacy – all allegedly in the name of protecting the public from terrorism and extremists, put all really in the service of government control. The draft amendments – called the “Yarovaya Law,” after their key author, Irina Yarovaya, a leading member of the ruling “United Russia” party – included numerous deeply disturbing provisions.

Foremost among them would have enabled the government to strip Russian nationals of their citizenship if they served in foreign armed forces, worked for an “international organization” in whose creation Russia did not take part (whatever that means) or were found guilty of terrorism and extremist crimes. These crimes included, for example, incitement to hostility against an ethnic, social or religious group – a deeply problematic article of Russia’s criminal code often misused and abused by the authorities with the aim of stifling dissent.

It is this “stripping of citizenship” amendment that caused a staggering media outcry when the version of the bill that would be put to the final round of voting was published on the State Duma’s website earlier this week. And no wonder. The Russian Constitution stipulates that, “A Russian Federation national cannot be stripped of his citizenship” – with no exceptions.

The promoters of the bill argued that the provision applied only to those who have a second citizenship or “were in a position to acquire” another citizenship. But their attempts at justification didn’t make it more constitutional or less incoherent.

Heated discussions around this scandalous amendment on the other hand diverted media and public attention from other extremely worrying provisions of the Yarovaya Law that require serious debate and evaluation for their compliance with basic human rights protections. They include:

- Requiring cellular and Internet providers to store all communications data in full for six months and all metadata for three years in the interests of the security services (who cares about the costs, not to mention the right to privacy);

- Making cryptographic backdoors mandatory in all messaging applications (who cares if WhatsApp and many others don’t even hold encryption keys… not to mention the right to privacy);

- Banning proselytizing, preaching, praying, or disseminating religious materials outside of “specially designated places,” like officially recognized religion institutions (who cares about freedom of conscience); and

- Reviving the infamous Soviet norm on criminal liability for failure to report to law enforcement authorities that someone else “has been planning, is perpetrating, or has perpetrated” certain types of crime, and yes,  just like in the Soviet times, it could mean that a priest, for example, will be under obligation to report on what he hears during confession. At the same time, it’s not clear what “planning” stands for or what level of knowledge needs to be proved to hold a person liable.

On the evening of June 22, the final draft of the Yarovaya Law suddenly disappeared from the Duma’s website. At around noon today, June 23, TASS, a pro-Kremlin wire service, reported that the bill is undergoing last minute revisions and that the provision on stripping Russian nationals of their citizenship has been removed. TASS supposedly has a copy of the latest draft – but has not published it. So, with less than 24 hours before the final voting on the bill, we really don’t have a clue about what got scrapped, changed, or added.

It is hard to avoid the impression that the alleged removal of the bill’s most scandalous provision may have been specially designed to have the public breathe a sigh of relief and skim over the fact that even with some improvements, the Yarovaya Law will still severely curb people’s right to exercise free expression and other fundamental freedoms in Russia.
And from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

By Mike Eckel

The legislation, signed into law earlier this month by Russian President Vladimir Putin, had already drawn scorn from critics in and outside of Russia.

Known as the "Yarovaya Law," the measure includes new police and counterterrorism measures that directly echo the sweeping powers wielded by the KGB to stifle dissent and repress opposition activists throughout the Soviet era.

But one largely overlooked aspect of the law is garnering new scrutiny and worry: tight restrictions on the activities of religious groups, particularly smaller denominations.

The new restrictions "will make it easier for Russian authorities to repress religious communities, stifle peaceful dissent, and detain and imprison people," said Thomas J. Reese, who heads the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a federal government agency that monitors religious expression around the world.

"Neither these measures nor the currently existing antiextremism law meet international human rights and religious freedom standards," he said in statement released last week.

Since the breakup of the communist Soviet Union 25 years ago, Russia's main religious faiths have flourished, with the largest denomination, the Russian Orthodox Church, now awash in money and believers. A law passed in 1997 officially named Orthodox Christianity, along with Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism, as the country's four "traditional" faiths.

After Orthodoxy, Muslims make up the second-largest religious group in Russia, and state funds have been used to help build mosques from Chechnya to Tatarstan.

Other major Christian denominations like the Roman Catholic Church have also been allowed to operate openly and largely without restrictions, though the Vatican and Russian Orthodox leaders have clashed in the past over ownership of church property dating back to the Bolshevik Revolution.

But denominations with a smaller presence in Russia -- Protestants or Jehovah's Witnesses, for example -- have long been viewed with hostility from state officials and religious authorities, and many have long complained the 1997 law set up registration and administrative procedures that were onerous and expensive to comply with.
The law signed by Putin, which takes effect on July 20, is ostensibly aimed at tightening measures in the fight against terrorism.

Among its most controversial provisions, the law increases security agencies' access to private communications, requiring telecom companies to store all telephone conversations, text messages, videos, and picture messages for six months and make this data available to authorities.
But the law also puts more restrictions on religious groups' activities in the name of fighting "extremism," a term that rights activists have long complained is so broad and ill-defined that any manner of dissent or unsanctioned protest could be criminalized.

For religious groups, the new law requires people to get official permits through a registered religious group and bars things like prayer meetings from taking place anywhere except for officially recognized religious buildings. That would potentially forbid house churches.

Members of a religious group would also potentially be barred from e-mailing invitations to people interested in services, according to Christianity Today, a web-based news service focused on religious issues.
Violators could be fined, or potentially expelled from Russia.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Utah-headquartered denomination known widely as the Mormons, issued a statement on July 8 suggesting concern with the law, saying it "will have an impact on missionary work." Mission work, which involves members, typically young people, spreading information about the church, is a central precept for the denomination.
"The church will honor, sustain, and obey the law," said the organization, which has around 23,000 members in Russia. "The church will further study and analyze the law and its impact as it goes into effect."

Sergei Ryakhovsky, a Pentecostal church leader and co-head of an organization of Protestant churches in Russia, said in an open letter co-signed by him that the law contradicted the Russian Constitution.
"The obligation on every believer to have a special permit to spread his or her beliefs, as well as hand out religious literature and material outside of places of worship and used structures, is not only absurd and offensive, but also creates the basis for mass persecution of believers for violating these provisions," said the letter, which was posted on the Russian-language religious website Portal-Credo.
"This law brings us back to a shameful past," it said.
Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses rely heavily upon door to door proselytizing.

However, such a law would weigh even heavier upon the Amish faith, as forbidding holding services in houses would effectively ban the Amish faith, as it rejects churches, and holds services in the homes of its various members, while Jehovah Witnesses will have modest church structures and the Mormons having rather significant ones.

Indeed "Yarovaya's Law" is in complete contradiction with Acts 17: 24-25:

Acts 17:24-25King James Version (KJV)

24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
25 Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

As such, this law can be viewed as an instrument of satan.

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