The State Duma
The Federal Assembly
of the Russian Federation

The Democratic Party of Russia

Explanatory Note
to the draft law "On property rights and business activities of religious organizations, their enterprises and institutions in the Russian Federation"

The basic features of the draft are as follows:

First, the draft is based on acknowledgment of non-commercial status of religious organizations, their enterprises and institutions. This means that religious organizations should acquire the right to create any enterprises and institutions, with the exception of some kinds specified in the draft. These legal persons will be oblidged [sic] to transfer their profits to the statute activities of religious organizations, thus obtaining the right to enjoy preferential taxes and other privileges. These norms are fixed in the law of all civilized states and are not an innovation to the business law.

Second, the draft takes into account a special status of cult property and cult lands which have always been inviolable in Russia and all over the world. Inviolability (immunity) of cult property of religious organizations as legal persons means that it is not subject to purchase, sale and mortgage, not liable to taxes, etc.

Third, the draft solves an important problem of restitution of property capacity of religious organizations, their denominational succession.

Fourth, the draft introduces the concept of denominational succession which becomes a property and legal basis for returning to religious organizations the property illegally confiscated or otherwise alienated in the period from 26 October 1917 (old style) till [sic] 25 October 1990. Of course, complete succession of rights and duties of legal persons, which status religious organizations had before 1917, is impossible, since in Russia churches were part of the state apparatus but the very principle of succession respecting various denominations should be recognized. Fifth, the draft lays a foundation for basically new relationship between religious organizations and the state. The law "On religious freedom" adopted by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation 25 October 1990 declared disestablishment of the church from the state which was an important event of the transition period from a totalitarian system to legal society. Now it is not enough: another step should be made towards cooperation, partnership of the state and religious organizations to revive Russia spiritually and economically.

Sixth, the draft opens up great possibilities of cooperation of various churches with business people. The rights of religious organizations to create, set up or acquire any enterprises or institutions, with the exception of those mentioned in the text, promotes honest enterprise, uncorrupted and eager to do good.

Immunity of cult property will create a "safety zone" for businessmen who are ready to invest in ecologically safe agricultural production, charity projects, etc. Al these kinds of activities should have considerable preference as to taxes to attract investors.

These are the basic features of the proposed draft law.

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