ENGLISH VERSION: "INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM WATCH": Divide and Rule. By Lawrence A. Uzzell
In the last two years the Russian news media have forgotten about us," the head of that country’s Roman Catholics told me in a recent interview in his Moscow office. Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz rightly thinks that is a good thing: a relief from the mostly hostile press coverage of 2002, when five of his clergy, including a bishop, were expelled from Russia in the course of a 6-month period. On balance, religious freedom for Roman Catholics in Russia has stopped shrinking since then, and has even expanded slightly—though there are still major problems.
Unfortunately, that is not true for Russia’s Protestants—as I discovered when I visited a Baptist congregation in the countryside south of Moscow. Their house church was recently destroyed by arsonists whom they believe, with good reason, to have been connected with the FSB secret police. Across the country, their denomination has suffered increased state harassment of revival meetings and of volunteers disseminating religious tracts. Protestants of all denominations have been finding it harder to rent buildings for their worship services.