Opening the meeting, Sergei Ivanov noted that last year society confronted a number of inflammatory crimes against people’s religious sentiments: vandalism of places of worship, terrorist attacks and attempts to scare clergy members. Mr Ivanov stressed that in this regard, it is imperative to make measured decisions reflecting the interests of the majority, it is important to clearly draw a division line between freedom of speech and the right to self-expression, which are without a doubt essential values, and blatant violent extremism and profiteering off religious sentiments.
The decision taken at the end of the meeting emphasises the urgency of amending legislation aimed at toughening penalty for insulting believers’ religious sentiments, defiling objects of religious reverence, sites of religious worship and ceremonies.
Participants of the meeting also acknowledged the importance of engaging in preventive work and efforts to expose these types of crimes, as well as broadening the practice of developing informational and resource materials describing the specifics of Russia’s major confessions, their religious practices and moral and ethical values.
It is imperative to continue working to fulfil the President’s instructions on implementing the institution of army and navy chaplains in the Armed Forces, and complete the recruitment of personnel to work with religious service members.
In addition, the Council approved the activities of the working group on developing Russian-Chinese relations in the religious domain and maintaining contacts between the Council and the State Department of China on Religions.
Meeting participants included representatives of religious associations, federal state bodies, experts and scholars.