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Liberty of Conscience Institute


Liberty of Conscience Institute has been established in Moscow recently. It is a fundamentally new structure, in its aim, vision, principles and priorities. The main impetus for it to be established, as viewed by its founders,- is the lack of any kind of noticeable improvements in realization of rights for every human being for freedom of conscience. This sphere is "taken over" by organizations representing interests of certain corporations, or power structures. At the moment no one is dealing with the issues of constitutional right to freedom of expression and its legal form, freedom of conscience.

This issue is largely underdeveloped in Russia, both from scientific viewpoint as well as in the realm of constitutional principles. Hence, Russian legal system in this sphere is exclusively devoted to regulating the activities of religious entities and their monitoring. A Constitutional right of all to freedom of conscience is mentioned everywhere but no more than a mere declaration. In fact, it is being excluded from the legal sphere. Thus, legislation, which should be directed at facilitating rights to freedom of expression, is substituted by "particular religious" legislation that is aimed at monitoring the activities of religious entities. This meets the demands of certain power structures and the religious bureaucracy, but not the society in general.

In regard to this, it is believed to be crucial to introduce a radical change into the current situation with the freedom of conscience. We need to learn to reject the principles of superiority and division, to be able to overcome national selfishness and implement the process of integration into the world commonwealth, organically combining national and international interests. Hence, the politics should serve the interests of human rights and freedom of conscience. For this it needs to be introduced into present reality.

Consequently, the purpose of the Institute is to facilitate the strengthening of the culture of peace, tolerance, friendship and harmony between the nations and to prevent social, national, ethnical, religious conflicts by means of establishing the system of legal guarantees for freedom of conscience on the regional, national and international levels.

The core tasks of the Institute are:

  • To facilitate the implementation of the right to freedom of conscience for all human beings as a core value of the open, civil, and democratic society. The main area of implementation is envisaged to be in the scientific, educational and legislative spheres;
  • To carry out legal and religious education in the sphere of human rights, freedom of conscience and state-and-church relationship, elaboration of the scientifically sound recommendations on the issues related to this problem.

One of the challenges of the Institute is to expand the issue beyond the expertise of a few lawyers and specialists of comparative religious studies and to turn the issue of freedom of conscience to become the joint concern of all society.

To implement the above-mentioned tasks the Institute carries out research activities, implements training and publishes materials. It interacts with Russian and International agencies in the following activities:

  • Education in scientific sphere with the purpose to develop methodological basis for freedom of conscience as a political, moral and legal category. To carry out sociological surveys and implement monitoring of the issues of freedom of conscience in Russia and in other countries. To organize conferences, round tables, lectures and workshops about this issue;
  • To carry out analytical activities aimed at the comparative analysis of Russian and international law, to examine bills as well as drafts to alterations and amendments to the current legislation, other documents and materials;
  • To develop bills, drafts to alterations and amendments to the existing legislation, elaboration of the recommendations to improve international and national legal systems and to create a universal legal system;
  • To act against the violation of human rights in the area of freedom of conscience. To provide legal assistance, information service to individuals, agencies, organizations;
  • To develop and publish scientific and educational materials and literature. To cover issues related to freedom of conscience in printed mass-media. To publish a regular bulletin. To create and support a web site .

The activities of the institute are inter-disciplinary. Prominent lawyers, historians, and specialists in religious studies are among the members of scientific and consultative council of the Institute. The Institute is headed by S.A. Burianov and S.A. Mozgovoy.

The Institute has already carried out monitoring of various tendencies and changes in Russian legislation in the sphere of freedom of conscience. It conducted juridical expertise of the published drafts of proposed legislation of state-and-church relationship and the draft of the Federal law "Traditional Religious Organizations in the Russian Federation". It lead to leaving some anti-constitutional legislation drafts unimplemented нереализованными (at least until now).

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