Compulsory course on the foundations of Orthodox culture in Russia may reach the court in Strasbourg
Parents of Russian children who are being taught a compulsory course on the “Foundations of Orthodox Culture” plan to take their objections to the European Court of Human Rights. At a press conference in Yekaterinburg the head of the freedom of conscience section of the Secretariat of the Human Rights Ombudsperson Mikhail Odintsov spoke of the complaints the Ombudsperson has received. At present such compulsory courses are being taught in the Oryol, Kaluga, Belgorod and Ryazan regions and partially (up to the fourth grade) in the Bryansk region.
Mr Odintsov reports that the most difficult situation is in the Belgorod region. After complaints from non-religious parents, or those of a different faith, members of the Ombudspersons staff visited the area and examined the textbooks etc. They concluded that the course being taught did not comply with the principle enshrined in the Constitution of secular education. He mentioned that a mark is given for the course which is put in the leaving certificate.
According to Mr Odintsev, the Ombudsperson Vladimir Lukin has already approached the regions authorities asking them to remove the compulsory element of the course, however there has yet to be any resolution to the situation. He said that he was aware that some of the parents planned to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights and said that, knowing how the Court looks on such issues the outcome is easy to predict.
It is worth mentioning that, although there are calls from various politicians in favour of certain churches, any religious education courses in Ukraine are optional and parents are asked to give their permission.