As of midday Thursday, the meeting of the Duma's committee on religion to consider the new law has been postponed to Friday, 6 June. The prospects do not look good. The draft text of the new legislation is being held closely by ZORKALTSEV (the Communist chairman of the committee); it has not even been distributed to members of the informal working group representing all major religious confessions in Russia.
A committee source tells Keston that the draft is still vague about key aspects of the 15 year period during which 'new' religious groups will not have the status or rights of legal personalities; these aspects will end up being decided by regulations to be created by the executive branch. The source feared that marginal religious groups would gain so little by being registered that they might prefer to go (or stay) underground. DEPUTY VALERI BORSHCHOV, the committee's strongest defender of religious freedom, is now in America and may not be back in time for Friday's committee meeting.
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