religious freedom, religion, legislation, Central Asia, Russia, human rights, proselytism, censorship, registration

Document Type



Religious freedom, among other human rights, has increasingly been restricted in Russia and Central Asia. Recent empirical research has shown that increased governmental regulation of religion causes increased social hostilities over religion and has shown the connections between religious freedom and numerous other civil rights and social goods. The U.S. government has particularly recognized the importance of religious freedom in Russia, mandating significant restrictions on aid based on the Russian interpretation of restrictive religion legislation passed in 1997. Since that time, however, virtually no attention has been given to draft legislation in this area in Russia and common trends seen in religion laws in Russia and Central Asia. This Article fills this gap by analyzing recent laws and draft laws in Russia and moderate Central Asian countries, many of which are unavailable in English. The Article provides context for the increasingly restrictive religion laws in this region, and then analyzes key provisions, evaluating them with regard to international norms on freedom of religion and speech.