USCIRF released a religious freedom report on Russia
On July 5, 2023, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released a report outlining the conditions of religious freedom as it relates to Russia. Despite outlining other severe instances of religious persecution in the past, this report highlights issues that have presented themselves since the invasion of Ukraine.
This report covers three main topics, including a general update about the country, violations conducted by Russia in Ukraine, and a reminder of policy recommendations previously stated by the commission.
USCIRF outlines in this report that “Russian authorities continue to engage in severe religious repression and have used its war in Ukraine to institute new or amend existing legal mechanisms to further suppress religious communities and decimate independent society.”
USCIRF described the current situation for Christians in Russia, writing specifically about Russian Orthodox Priest Mikhail Simonov, who was sentenced to seven years in prison for spreading false information about the military. Simonov had posted on social media, “Killing children and women, on Channel One we sing songs. We, Russia, have become godless. Forgive us, Lord!”
Another Orthodox priest Ioann Kurmoyarov was detained after posting videos denouncing the war, saying, “Those who have unleashed aggression will not be in heaven” and “if you are not disturbed by what is going on in Ukraine, this outrage, then…you are not Christians.” It is reported that prison authorities have not provided Kurmoyarov with adequate medical care despite the deterioration of his health in jail.