The Russian constitution provides for freedom of religion. However, Muslims have reported persistent difficulties in obtaining permission to build additional mosques. In Kaliningrad, lawyers representing parts of the 100,000 strong Muslim population have indicated that they will now take their case to secure land for the construction of a mosque to the European Court of Human Rights. In 2014, there continued to be widespread reports of harassment of Muslims in Russia, especially in the North Caucasus. Russia’s anti-extremism laws have also been criticised by the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe for their potential to be arbitrarily used against minority religious groups.
We have raised concerns about freedom of religion and belief in Russia through the EU. We will continue to monitor the impact of Russia’s use of “extremism” legislation on religious minorities.