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As the December 31 deadline passed for reregistration of religious associations, more than 9,000 religious organizations were registered. But that total, based on preliminary statistics of the Russian Ministry of Justice, represents about 60 percent of the number of groups that claimed religious status during the 1990s.

Viktor Korolev, head of the religious associations section of the Ministry of Justice, said that most of those still unregistered either disbanded or failed to present sufficient information to gain reregistration, according to the Russian news agency Itar-Tass. Some organizations opted to accept the lesser status of a religious group, a status that deprives the organization of the right to hold services in public places, own property, distribute literature, and invite foreign guests.

Many religious groups and human-rights advocates worldwide had strong objections to any reregistration requirements, saying that reregistration has a chilling effect on religious freedom. But the Russian Orthodox Church supported the reregistration law.

After Russia enacted reregistration, religious groups scrambled to comply, often facing much discrimination from local authorities hostile to minority religious groups. Some local religious associations that did not gain reregistration nevertheless belong to national groups that are registered. These local associations may still attempt to gain their own reregistration.

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March 5, 2001

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