Date: September 14, 2020
U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Hearing
Religious Freedom in Russia and Central Asia
Wednesday, September 16, 2020
10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Please join the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom virtual hearing about the alarming state of religious freedom in the Russian Federation and Central Asia, and recommendations on how the United States should respond.
Russia and various Central Asian countries have undermined religious freedom since the late 1990s, when many former Soviet states adopted repressive religion laws that drew upon past precedent. Officials across the region strictly monitor and regulate religious practice, including placing surveillance cameras in places of worship and keeping official databases with detailed personal information of community members. Regional governments actively suppress religious minorities through the denial of legal registration and the use of vague and expansive extremism laws that effectively criminalize any speech or religious practice of which they disapprove. Russia’s exportation of repressive practices to neighboring Ukraine has been particularly egregious, and it has made mandatory religious regulation and vague extremism laws significant weapons in the subjugation of occupied Crimea.
Witnesses will provide analysis on the abuse of registration and extremism laws used to target individual rights of religious communities across this region, and offer policy recommendations to the United States government.
- Representative Joe Wilson, R-SC, Ranking Member, Helsinki Commission
- Gayle Manchin, Chair, USCIRF
- Tony Perkins, Vice Chair, USCIRF
- Anurima Bhargava, Vice Chair, USCIRF
- Elizabeth Clark, Associate Director, International Center for Law and Religion Studies, Brigham Young University
- Emily B. Baran, Associate Professor of History, Middle Tennessee State University
- Maria Kravchenko, Director of the Illegal Anti-extremism Section, SOVA Center for Information and Analysis
- John E. Herbst, Director, Eurasia Center, Atlantic Council; and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine