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Russia: Legislative Agenda Subject to Church Influence

(July 27, 2009) On July 8, 2009, following a meeting between the leadership of the Russian State Duma (lower house of the national legislature) and Patriarch Kirill, the Head of the Russian Orthodox Church Metropolitan of Moscow and All-Russia, the Vice-Speaker of the Duma and the chairmen of several Duma committees who are concurrently leaders of the ruling political party, United Russia, stated that they had agreed to refer the legislative agenda and the legislative calendar to the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church for confirmation. If the Church disagrees with the proposed draft bills, preliminary consultations between the legislators and Church officials will be conducted. It was also reported that the Church has expressed its disapproval of introducing juvenile justice and sex education in Russia, and so these issues may be removed from the relevant proposed legislation during the next session in order to meet the concerns of the Orthodox hierarchs. (Members of the Duma Will Consult with the Patriarchy Before Adopting Laws, INTERFAX NEWS AGENCY, July 8, 2009, available at

On July 21, 2009, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stated that as of spring 2010, religious education will be introduced as an experiment in the public middle schools of 18 Russian provinces and the institution of chaplains will be established in the armed forces. (Medvedev Recommended Teaching of Religion in Schools, NEWSRU.COM, June 21, 2009, available at According to the nation's Constitution, Russia is a secular state in which religious organizations are to be separated from the state, and no religion can be established as obligatory. (Art. 14, Constitution of the Russian Federation.)