US Weaponizes Religious Matters Against Its Opponents, Says Russia Diplomat

The Russian Foreign Ministry’s Ambassador-at-Large says that Washington "is ahead of the curve" on this score, with its general practice of "protecting religions as such, while ignoring the standards of morality and national interests of sovereign states"

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Originally appeared at: TASS

The United States and some other countries tend to politicize religious matters and weaponize them in their foreign policy against their global opponents, Gennady Askaldovich, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Ambassador-at-Large, said on Tuesday.

"The religious factor is increasingly becoming a serious foreign policy weapon. Politicization of this sphere is on the rise, with state interference in religious activities becoming more frequent. There is a growing tendency on the part of a number of external players to play on the factor of protecting the rights of believers in order to fight against their international opponents," he said. The diplomat told a Russian Federation Council roundtable meeting (upper house) devoted to the organization of the World Conference on Inter-Religious and Inter-Ethnic Dialogue in 2022.

Washington, in his words, "is ahead of the curve" on this score, with its general practice of "protecting religions as such, while ignoring the standards of morality and national interests of sovereign states," which only want to ensure "security of their citizens in the sphere of spiritual life."

"The United States is actively building a system for the global protection of religious freedoms, declaring patronage for any manifestation of faith, even extremist ideology in the form of sectarianism," Askaldovich stressed. "Washington has already laid the groundwork for beefing up activities in this sphere, such as regulatory frameworks and relevant government agencies, the resource of American overseas analytical institutions, as well as numerous civil society structures that have been contracted to work on the custom-made religious dossier."

"The legitimacy of these activities is being promoted within the so-called International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance" that was set up at the beginning of the last year, he said, adding that this structure regrettably embraces "a number of post-Soviet republics," including Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Estonia, and Armenia. "This structure is absolutely unacceptable for us as it is an openly US-controlled interstate mechanism potentially capable of using sanctions against countries they don’t like. Moreover, this mechanism seeks to maximally politicize topics related to the protection of the rights of believers," the diplomat emphasized.

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