Report on Violations of the Rights of Orthodox Christians in Europe in 2017 published

December 13, 2018. At the headquarters of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, an international legal seminar was held on the theme “New Challenges to Religious Freedom in the Light of Recent Decisions of the European Court of Human Rights”. The seminar was organized by the Representation of the Russian Orthodox Church in Strasbourg, the French public organization European Center “For Law and Justice”, the Russian Agency for Legal and Judicial Information (RAPSI), and the Russian Institute for State-confessional relations and law. The aim of the seminar was to discuss the practice of the ECHR in the field of the protection of the rights of believers.

The seminar was attended by judges of the European Court of Human Rights, Permanent Observer of the Holy See at the Council of Europe Monsignor Paolo Rudelli, heads of diplomatic missions of various countries at the Council of Europe, representatives of human rights organizations, lawyers.

The representative of the Russian Orthodox Church in Strasbourg and at the international European organizations Hegumen Philip (Ryabykh) also took part in the seminar.

Speaking at the seminar, Hegumen Philip said: “As the Representative of the Russian Orthodox Church in Strasbourg, I regret that the European Court of Human Rights refused to send the case to Alekhina in the Grand Chamber. I think that in the judgment of July 17, 2018 in this case, the Court could not maintain a balance between freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Of course, now that the decision of the Court has become final and has entered into force, we can and must draw the appropriate conclusions to evaluate such cases and situations that may arise in the future. At the same time, not only in this case (the case of Alekhina and others against Russia), but also in other cases that are considered at today’s conference, we see attempts to use the right to freedom of speech as a legitimate justification for the violation of other rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Convention in particular – religious freedom.

I also believe that it is important to monitor violations of the rights of Christians, since Christians are the most numerous religion in Europe, but their rights are regularly violated in different parts of the European continent. Such monitoring is carried out by Catholic and Protestant organizations. Since 2015, the Representation of the Russian Orthodox Church has been monitoring violations of the rights of Orthodox Christians in Europe. Recently, our report for 2017 was prepared, which is also available for review via the Internet. Of course, we are particularly concerned about the situation in which the Orthodox communities of Ukraine find themselves, as well as in the Balkans. I hope that this will be an important contribution to the protection of religious freedom in Europe.”