U.S. congressmen want to punish Russia for violations of religious freedom in Crimea and Donbas
U.S. Congressmen Joe Wilson and Emanuel Cleaver introduced a bill to Congress to oppose violations of religious freedom in Ukraine by Russia and armed groups commanded by Russia.
The text of the document was published on the Congress website.
“According to the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Reports, and other reporting, violations of religious freedom in the Crimea region of Ukraine since Russia invaded and occupied the territory have included abduction, detention and imprisonment, torture, forced psychiatric hospitalizations, fines, restrictions on missionary activities, confiscations of property, including churches and meeting halls, expulsions and obstructions to reentry, denying registration of religious groups, vandalism, fines, and banning peaceful religious groups, and targeted groups have included Muslim Crimean Tatars, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, formerly the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Protestant Christians, and Jehovah’s Witnesses,” the document says.
According to the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Reports, violations of religious freedom in the part of the Donbas region of Ukraine controlled by armed groups commanded by Russia included detention and imprisonment, torture, confiscation of property, including churches and meeting halls, physical assaults and threats of violence, vandalism, fines, restrictions on missionary activities, religious services, ceremonies, gatherings, and literature, and banning of peaceful religious groups.
The congressmen stressed that Russian officials are responsible for religious persecution, and the bill must help bring them to justice.
According to the bill, for purposes of making a determination of whether to designate Russia as a country of particular concern for religious freedom, the President shall consider any particularly severe violation of religious freedom in the territory of Ukraine that Russia occupies and exercises controls, or controls through non-state armed groups it commands, during the period of time that is the basis for the determination and designation, to be a particularly severe violation of religious freedom that the Government of Russia has engaged in or tolerated.