Big Plans for Newly Formed Russian Religious Liberty Association

New association has pivotal role to play, says IRLA Secretary General Dr. John Graz

The recently formed Russian chapter of the IRLA has announced plans for a series of events aimed at generating greater awareness of religious freedom issues throughout the region. Dr. John Graz, IRLA Secretary General, met July 19 with the 40-member board--a diverse group of scholars, lawyers, and religious leaders who have supported religious freedom since the end of the Communist regime. He later took part in a two-day training event, organized by IRLA Regional Secretary General Vasily Stoylar, for Russian and Central Asian religious liberty leaders. The group resolved to organize a number of forums and Festivals of Religious Freedom across the region over the coming years--including major events in Kiev and St. Petersburg.

The Russian association was organized last year after the larger IRLA Euro-Asia was dissolved in order to encourage the organization of national and local associations better suited to the needs of different countries. According to Dr. Graz, the new Association has a significant task ahead. "Russia and the Central Asia continue to play an important role in the geopolitics of the world," he said. "It's vital that both the people and their governments remember that religious freedom for everyone is a major factor in promoting peace and prosperity."

The Russian Association of Religious Liberty maintains strong ties with the IRLA. It plans to send a delegation of 40 members to participate in the 7th IRLA World Congress in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic in April 2012.