Russian occupants in Donetsk region intend to ban religious organizations that are not registered anew under their laws
The authorities of the so-called “Donetsk People's Republic” issued a decree banning the activities of the current religious organizations that have not undergone re-registration.
At the same time, the occupation authorities of Donetsk set the deadline for re-registration on March 1, 2019, the Institute of Religious Freedom reports.
Such a requirement was set forward by the so-called “Law of the DPR On Freedom of Religion and Religious Associations”, adopted in April and signed in May 2018.
As the IRS found out from local believers, pro-Russian appointees oblige churches and religious organizations in the occupied territories of Donetsk region to comply with this re-registration requirement under the threat of prohibition of any religious activity and further confiscation of temples, prayer houses and other church property.
The aforementioned amendments also stipulate that for the purpose of registration of existing religious organizations, religious expert examination is mandatory. One can assume that this requirement will become the main instrument the Donetsk occupation authorities will use to refuse the registration of religious organizations and groups.
In this case, religious organizations and groups, in the case of successful reregistration, are required to submit at least once a year to the authorized entity of the occupation authorities a notice on continuation of their activities.
It is worth noting that such requirements for compulsory re-registration and passage of religious expert examination do not apply to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate). For this confession, the occupation authorities provided for a special simplified “legalization” procedure.
As the IRS learnt from its own sources, on June 10, 2018, representatives of the State Property Fund of the DPR, without any explanation, closed the Church of the Holy Spirit of the UOC of Kyiv Patriarchate in Donetsk.
Later, on June 26, representatives of the Ministry of State Security of DPR "closed the mosque in Donetsk, alleging it was aiding terrorists and spreading pro-Ukrainian propaganda among local Muslims. In its actions, the occupation authorities rely on the so-called “law of the DPR” “On counteraction to extremist activity,” which, as in Russia, is often used to curtail the religious activity of unwanted believers or religious associations as a whole.
As reported, religious organizations in the occupied territories of the Lugansk region was faced the problems with re-registration in 2018. The occupation authorities require local religious organizations to re-register before the beginning of August 2018. At the same time, the so-called “Law of LPR” “On Freedom of Religion and Religious Associations” adopted in February prohibits activities in the occupied territory of the Luhansk region of all religious groups, which consist of five or more persons and are not directly related to any of the " traditional denominations.” Moreover, the list of these “traditional denominations” is not provided.
As reported by the IRS, the occupation authorities of the areas of Lugansk region which are not controlled by Ukraine continue the religious persecution of evangelical Christians. In particular, pro-Russian militants looted the house of prayer of evangelical Christian Baptists in the city of Stakhanov.
At the same time, in the annual report, USCIRF stated that Russia was responsible for religious crimes in Donbas and Crimea in connection with the actual control of these occupied territories.