Religious beliefs and the limits of their accommodation in Russia: some landmark cases of the Russian Supreme Court

Mikhail Antonov


This paper considers the case law of the Russian Supreme Court that shapes certain guidelines of accommodation of religious freedoms in Russia. The statutory law does not provide explicit rules and the prevailing doctrine does not directly recognise the idea of accommodation on religious grounds. This puts Russian courts in an ambiguous situation where they are seemingly precluded from granting accommodations. Nonetheless, the Russian courts of general jurisdiction have elaborated certain approaches that allow narrowing or broadening the limits of the protection, and thereby indirectly accepted the idea of accommodation which is absent in the statutory law. The paper examines the criteria and approaches the Russian Supreme Court has formulated in its landmark cases. The paper underscores relevance of such an analysis for comparative research projects that aim at understanding dissimilarities of legal accommodations on religious grounds in different countries and their reasons.


the protection of religious freedoms; human rights; Russian Supreme Court; accommodations on religious grounds; balancing of legal principles

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