Embassy Press Officer’s reply to media question on allegations against Russia with regard to persecution of Christians

Question: How would you comment on the statement mentioning Russia’s “violations” made by the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the FCO H.Wheeler on February 6 at the debate in the House of Commons on persecution of Christians?

Answer: This statement is ill-advised and could not be further from the truth. Christians make up the majority of Russian believers. Hundreds of new churches are being built. The Russian Orthodox Church is actively engaging in public discussions on socially significant issues. Most favourable conditions have been created for exercising the freedom of belief for other Christian denominations as well as non-Christians.

In 2016 the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill met with the head of the Roman Catholic Church Pope Francis and the Head of the Church of England the Queen Elizabeth II. Not one issue of any discrimination against Christians was brought up and the beneficial role of the Russian Orthodox Church for promoting Christian values in Russia and all over the world was widely acknowledged. No abuses against Christians in Russia are ever mentioned in the reports by representatives of the OSCE Chairman-in-office on Combating Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination. The same is true with regard to the issue of religious or racial intolerance towards people of other faiths and beliefs. At the same time, we need to point out that religious intolerance is not uncommon in the UK, including cases of antisemitism and islamophobia.

Having declared its determination to protect Christians, the UK is actually politicizing this issue by, for instance, ranking China, North Korea and Iran as main violators of the rights of Christians. We urge London to engage into a genuine cooperation in tackling the most serious problems Christians are facing, first and foremost in the Middle East. There is a lot to be done to protect them, and the results of this work will depend on the joint and well-coordinated efforts by the international community.

14 February 2020, 18:50