New Punishments for “Religious Agitation in Public Places” in Crimea
By Jeremy Reynalds, Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CRIMEA (ANS. JUNE 4) A new draft Law on Administrative Offences in the Republic of Crimea would, if adopted in current form, prescribe fines for the undefined “offence” of “religious agitation in public places.”
Crimea is a major land mass on the northern coast of the Black Sea that is almost completely surrounded by water.
According to a story by Felix Corley for Forum 18 News, the draft passed its first reading in the State Council (Crimea’s parliament) in May. Although fines would be relatively small, they would rise for repeated “offences.”
“I don’t understand what they envisage by the term ‘religious agitation in public places,’” Chair of the State Council’s Culture Committee Svetlana Savchenko told Forum 18.
Asked if Orthodox Easter processions around churches might be punishable, she responded “Processions are not agitation – giving out books or leaflets is.”
Meanwhile, Forum 18 reported, a senior Crimean Muslim official was twice fined in April for failing to pay earlier fines because institutions under his authority had religious books the Russian authorities claim are “extremist.”
The Crimean authorities already punish those who exercise their freedom of religion or belief in public.
According to Forum 18, nine Baptists were interrogated, photographed, fingerprinted and seven of them fined in May for sharing their faith in public in a village in central Crimea.
Five have already placed appeals with Crimea’s Supreme Court.
For more information visit www.forum18.org
About the writer: Jeremy Reynalds is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, a freelance writer and also the founder and CEO of Joy Junction, New Mexico’s largest emergency homeless shelter, www.joyjunction.org. He has a master’s degree in communication from the University of New Mexico, and a Ph.D. in intercultural education from Biola University in Los Angeles. His newest book is “From Destitute to Ph.D.” Additional details on “From Destitute to Ph.D.” are available at www.myhomelessjourney.com. Reynalds lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife, Elma. For more information contact: Jeremy Reynalds at email@example.com.
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