15.12.2003 | Volodymir Yavorskiy

The draft of the Law “On the freedom of consciousness and religious organizations”: new version


The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine presented to the Supreme Rada the new version of the Draft of Law No. 1281 “On the freedom of consciousness and religious organizations”.

The draft was not changed much: only several definitions and specifications were added. The term “church” is now determined more precisely. The number of citizens, who may found a religious organization, was decreased from 25 to 10, and this is praiseworthy. Unfortunately, other drawbacks of the draft were ignored.

Besides, new definition of the freedom of consciousness was included to the draft. It reads: “the freedom of consciousness is the right that guarantees the inviolability of consciousness in the questions of religion”. Undoubtedly, this definition is quite vague.

It should be also noted that the draft unambiguously states that the right for the alternative military service is rendered to persons, who cannot serve in the army because of their religious beliefs. This provision violates the equality of people of all religious beliefs and the rights of atheists. This problem was elucidated widely by Russian human rights protectors. The campaign for protecting the right for the alternative service lasts in Russia for many years (obviously it is connected with the war in Chechnya). Yet, unfortunately, there are no similar mass actions in Ukraine.

So, why the draft was presented for the consideration almost without changes? It seems that the organs of state power decided to show some semblance of active work after the acute criticism from various sides. They corrected something, formulated some definitions in other words, but the essence did not change… Our authorities do not like to abandon their ideas. Now let us wait and see whether our citizens are able to struggle for their rights.

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