The Russian government came under sharp criticism during a Feb. 27 hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives for its abuse of religious minorities.
“Unfortunately, the human rights situation in Russia continues to deteriorate, and just when you think things can’t get any worse, they do,” said U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), who serves as co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.
The commission heard testimony from Elizabeth Cassidy, director of research and policy at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Cassidy asserted that Russia’s “malign activities around the globe are clearly evident, yet its systematic, ongoing, egregious repression of religious freedom is less well known,” reported Religion News Service.
According to Cassidy, the Russian government has especially singled out Jehovah’s Witnesses for abuse. The religious denomination has been labeled “extremist,” and its right to preach and distribute material has been restricted. About 35 of its members are in prison.