Moscow rejects US claims on religious persecution in Russia, pledges retaliation

There is no religious persecution in Russia, the foreign ministry’s ambassador-at-large, Gennady Askaldovich, told Sputnik on Tuesday, commenting on the recent remark by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on religious freedoms in Russia.

“I am outraged by the forceful American wording ‘egregious violations of religious freedom.’ I have to repeat again and again that there is no persecution on religious grounds in Russia, there are no prisoners who, even at a stretch, could be ranked as ‘prisoners of conscience.’ Let me remind you that in Russian justice the punishment is determined depending on the fact and severity of an administrative violation and a criminal offence,” the diplomat said.

The new unfriendly attack by the United States will not go unnoticed, he said, adding that Moscow will expose Washington’s desire to use religion to realize foreign policy ambitions.
“The American side with enviable persistence peddles the religious theme, pins labels on undesirable countries, including Russia, where freedom of religion is allegedly being violated. It is simply amazing how the United States, arbitrarily and shamelessly assuming the function of some kind of international overseer, decided to regulate world religious affairs at its own discretion,” the diplomat said.
While teaching others, the US forgets that it is the one that deliberately politicizes the religious sphere, he added.

Earlier in November, Blinken said that he designated countries, including Russia, China and Iran for engaging in or tolerating violations of religious freedom.

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