Russia: Putin signs order amending freedom of conscience law

Russian religious organizations prohibited from turning into different legal entities

Russian religious organizations prohibited from turning into different legal entities

Taken with kind permission from the Newsletter "Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief“ edited by Willy Fautré on behalf of Human Rights Without Frontiers Int'l - www.hrwf.net 

RIA Novosti (06.04.2015) - Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law, which prohibits the transforming of religious organizations into legal entities [persons at law] of a different legal organizational form.

As was clarified on the Kremlin website, the document introduces changes into the federal law "On freedom of conscience and religious associations" and certain legislative acts of the RF. "The reorganization of a religious organization is accomplished on the grounds and in the procedure that are provided by civil legislation. A religious organization cannot be converted into a legal entity of a different legal organizational form," the text of the law says.

In addition, the document clarifies the meaning of the concept "religious organization" and the nature of the property relationships between religious organizations and their founders. In particular, it says that a religious organization may be created by citizens of the RF or other persons who are living permanently and legally on the territory of Russia.

The information for legal state administration says that the federal law clarifies "the procedure for the legislative regulation, by civil legislation and legislation on freedom of conscience, freedom of religious confession, and religious associations, of relations with the participation of religious organizations of the procedures for creation, legal status, and activity of religious organizations."  

It also establishes that religious organizations of Crimea and Sevastopol, which in the spring of last year became a part of the Russian federation, within the period up to 1 January 2016 "may submit their founding documents in accordance with legislation of the Russian federation and apply for introduction of information about them into the Uniform State Register of Legal Entities." (tr. by PDS, posted 6 April 2015)

  
DOCUMENT: ON INTRODUCTION OF CHANGES INTO FEDERAL LAW "ON FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE AND RELIGIOUS ASSOCIATIONS" AND OTHER LEGISLATIVE ACTS OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION

Adopted by State Duma   27 March 2015
Approved by Federation Council  1 April 2015

Article 1

To introduce into the federal law of 26 September 1997 "On freedom of conscience and religious associations" the following changes:

1.  To add to article 1 the words "including specifics of their legal civil status:

2.  To article 8

a) point 1 to read as follows"

1.  A religious organization is defined as a voluntary association of citizens of the Russian federation and other persons, permanently and legally residing on the territory of the Russian federation, formed for the purposes of joint confession and dissemination of faith and registered in the procedure established by law as a legal entity [judicial person]

Issues of the participation of founders and other judicial and physical persons in the activity of religious organizations are decided by the charter and/or internal resolutions of religious organizations. The founder (founders) of a religious organization may fulfill functions of a body of the religious organization or members of a collegial body of the religious organization in a procedure established by the charter and internal resolutions of a religious organization"

b)  to add to point 8.1 the following contents:

"8.1.  The procedure for formation of bodies of a religious organization and their competence, the procedure for making decisions by these bodies, and the relationship between the religious organization and persons who are members of its bodies are determined by the charter and internal resolutions of a religious organization.";

c) to add to point 10 the following contents:

"10. The provisions of point 5 article 50 and article 53.1 of the Civil Code of the Russian federation do not apply to religious organizations.";

d) to add to article 9, point 5 the following contents:

"5. The decision on the establishment of a religious organization includes information about the establishment of the religious organization, confirmation of its charter, and the election (appointment) of bodies of the religious organization."';

4) to add to article 13.1 the following contents:

"Article 13.1 Reorganization of a religious organization is accomplished on the bases and in the procedure provided by civil legislation. A religious organization may not be reorganized into a legal entity of a different legal organizational form."

Article 2

To introduce into the first part of the Civil Code of the Russian federation the following changes:

1) to remove from point 4, article 49, the words "in accordance with"

2) point 2, article 123.26 to read as follows:

"2. The legal civil status of religious organizations is determined by the present code and the law on freedom of conscience and religious associations. The provisions of the present code apply to religious organizations if something different is not provided by the law on freedom of conscience and religious associations and by other laws.

Religious organizations operate in accordance with their charters and internal resolutions that do not violate law.

The procedure for the formation of bodies of a religious organization and their competence, the procedure for adopting decisions by these bodies, and the relations between a religious organization and persons who are members of its bodies are determined in accordance with the law on freedom of conscience and religious associations and by the charter and internal resolutions of the religious organization."

Article 3

To add to point 1 article 19 of the federal law of 30 November 1994 "On activation of the first part of the Civil Code of the Russian federation" the following paragraph:

"Legal entities that are religious organizations indicated in the first paragraph of the present point may submit their founding documents in accordance with legislation of the Russian federation and make application for including of information about them in the Uniform State Register of Legal Entities within the period until 1 January 2016."

Article 4

Point 2 of article 6 of federal law of 12 January 1996 "On noncommercial organizations" to read as follows:

"2. Founders, participants (members) of public and religious organizations (associations) do not have rights of ownership of property transferred by them to these organizations, including members' contributions.

Founders and participants (members) of public and religious organizations (associations) are not obligated by requirements of such organizations (associations), and the indicated organizations (associations) are not responsible for obligations of their founders and participants (members)."

Article 5

The present federal law takes effect on the day of its official publication.

President of the Russian federation, V. Putin

Moscow, Kremlin 
6 April 2015 

(tr. by PDS, posted 7 April 2015)

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