Russian President Vladimir Putin signed legislation this week that severely restricts freedom of religion by prohibiting any religious speech or evangelization outside of places of worship.“This new situation resembles the Soviet Union in 1929. At that time confession of faith was permitted only in church,” said Dr. Hannu Haukka, president of Great Commission Media Ministries, reports National Religious Broadcasters (NRB). “Practically speaking, we are back in the same situation. These anti-terrorist laws are some of the most restrictive laws in post-Soviet history.”
The measure is expected to especially affect evangelical groups and Jehovah’s Witnesses who often share faith in homes rather than traditional churches.
“We need to begin telling the truth about an increasingly aggressive actor in global affairs,” he said. “This Russian law would be an affront to free people everywhere—at home and abroad—who believe that rights of conscience—the rights to free speech and to freedom of religion—are pre-political.”
Religious freedom attorneys and human rights groups are already preparing an appeal to Russia’s Constitutional Court, reports Forum 18. The legislation drew widespread protests and religious leaders are uncertain how they can fulfill the law’s obligations.
“Today is indeed a black day on the calendar,” lawyer Vladimir Ryakhovsky of the Slavic Centre for Law and Justice posted on his Facebook page. “Hope was that Vladimir Putin would not in the end sign this law. A law which openly contradicts the gospel command ‘go and make disciples’ and, in addition, violates the constitutional rights of citizens.”
Financial penalties for violating the law are reportedly up to 50,000 roubles for individuals and up to one million roubles for organizations.
“We are distressed by the law and see it as repressive for believers in our country, because the law contradicts the Bible,” said a spokeswoman for the Council of Churches – Baptists. “We must assume there will be repression and persecution.”
I always had a gut feeling that Putin was a deep down, ill willed, evil guy who never intended to do any good in this world except for himself; and that we would be hearing much more from him. He is remorseless, oppressive and trying to reinstate all the misery which totally disheartened and defeated his own people in the Soviet/Communist era. He must have become addicted to that feeling of total power over his people when he ran the KGB. I see bad and violent times heading this way for our poor old planet.