New Russian Group to Oppose “Atheist Extremism”

From Russia Today:

A group of activists connected with the Russian Orthodox Church are setting up a center against atheist extremism which, according to them, is promoted mainly by foreign-sponsored organizations.

The decision was announced this week at a meeting between city residents and deputies of a district council that was held near the pilgrimage center of the Moscow Patriarchate, in south-west Moscow. 

The atheist extremism is currently rearing its head. It is sponsored by various funds and NGOs with roots outside Russian borders,” reads the first statement released by the new movement.

Obviously the one thing Russia lacks at the moment is a sufficient number of religious activist groups (e.g. here and here).

RT gives few details about the group itself, although a Moscow News interview from a few days ago shows that the organiser is the politician Alexander Chuev (or “A.V.Chuev – website here). Chuev told the interviewer that hatred of religion permeates the media, and that his organisation will identify extremists and pass their names to prosecutors.

Chuev has a long history of this kind of thing. Born in 1965, back in 1989 he was a dissident described as a ” a close colleague of Alexander Ogorodnikov”, who founded the Christian-Democrat Union (and who is today celebrated as a man who suffered to establish religious freedom in Russia). A 2003 SOVA report by Alexander Verkhovsky notes Chuev’s support of “traditional religions”, in collaboration with a Communist deputy:

[Viktor] Zorkaltsev’s assistant Alexander Chuev (a politician traditional lobbying the Patriarchate’s interests and the leader of a very small Christian-Democratic party of Russia) reported on a draft law on traditional religious organizations he prepared. 

Chuev is against new restrictions on non-traditional religions, but he in favor of privileges to traditional ones – concerning an access to schools, to social work, free-of-charge access to mass media, restoration of tax privileges etc. 

(Verkhovsky explained Zorkaltsev’s support by adding that “the Communist party is known for its imperial-nationalist ideology”).

In 2004, Chuev “pledged to push through a law that would make it a crime to defame or dishonor Russia’s ‘traditional religions'”; in 2005 he put forward a bill which would introduce fines for the organisers of “immoral” public events; and in 2006 he led calls for a gay pride march and for homosexual “propaganda” to be banned.

You’d think he’d be more than happy by now.