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  • September 2017: The status of legal entity denied to the Latvian Autonomous Orthodox Church

In 1994, the Latvian Orthodox priest-monk Viktors Kontuzorovs (b.1944) left the Latvian Orthodox Church and joined the Russian autonomous Orthodox Church. Over the past 23 years, the Latvian autonomous Orthodox Church has tried to gain registration as an “Orthodox Church”. This demand for official registration was unsuccessful since the Section 7(3) of the Law on Religious Organisations (1995) states that only one religious association can be registered to represent a particular denomination, thus prohibiting the registration of two different religious associations for the Orthodox Church. The refusal to register the Latvian autonomous Orthodox Church has lead to a religious freedom issue. On July 19, 2017, the Constitutional court of Latvia started to examine a case regarding the Administrative District Court’s decision to dismiss the application of the Latvian Autonomous Orthodox Church for entering the Register of Religious Organisations, and thus to deny this organisation the status of a legal entity and, therefore, to prohibit its congregations from establishing a religious association, i.e. Church. In the court’s view, the contested norms unreasonably restrict the religious organisation’s right to freedom of religion and association, which is guaranteed by the Latvian Constitution. The Constitutional Court has requested the parliament of the Republic of Latvia to submit by 19 September 2017 a written reply, presenting the facts of the case and legal substantiation.

  • July 2017: Islamophobia on the Internet in Latvia

Websites, social networks, forums and blogs have become the key means for manifesting intolerance and racism, including Islamophobia. Comments published on various websites suggest that people most frequently do not assess the consequences of their published opinions. Anonymity provides a feeling of permissiveness. Moreover, sometimes people think that their individual responsibility decreases on a common internet site where a large number of users express their opinions. The portal plays the most active role in publishing information on world events in relation to Islam or Muslims. The materials available on the portal are mainly translations of information made public by world news agencies. The news portals,,, (in Latvian) and;;; (in Russian) publish various information on Islam and Muslims, and the amount of comments containing Islamophobic messages is increasing. One could read insulting readers’ comments about Muslims who were equated with terrorists, while Islam was called the religion of death. Islamophobia goes hand in hand with opposition to immigration. This is clearly pictured on the portal, which has a pronounced Islamophobic nature. A common characteristic of all portals is that they speak about Muslims as threat to security and public safety. The internet space in Latvia, where Islamophobic materials are posted most often, is a place for websites of radical movements, e.g. the home page of the association “Antiglobalists” and that of the Latvian National Front (LNF). Hate crimes are mostly committed in the internet environment, on various portals, especially in the form of comments. Provocation of ethnic and racial hatred, as well as incitement to religious hatred are considered hate crimes in Latvia. Such activities could result in criminal liability.

D 2 October 2017    AAnita Stasulane

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