Since the second Chechen War, and particularly since the start of the global war on terror, Russia has implemented increasingly restrictive “anti-extremism” measures. This approach has restricted the rights to freedom of assembly, association, and expression. It has also had a major negative effect on freedom of conscience for many religious groups, including some Muslim groups and what the Russian authorities refer to as “sects” or “nontraditional” religious groups, such as the Jehovah Witnesses, Scientologists, and even certain Russian Orthodox communities.
The Open Society Foundations hosts a presentation by noted Russian human rights activist Alexander Verkhovsky, director of the SOVA Center for Information and Analysis, a Russian nonprofit that focuses on issues such as nationalism and racism, relations between religious groups and secular society, and political radicalism. Catherine Cosman, senior policy analyst at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, will provide comments on the current status of freedom of religion or belief in Russia.