Valentin Lebedev, the head of the Union of Orthodox Citizens, has sharply criticized the idea of establishing a body for religious issues and ethnic issues.
"The recent events in Biryulyovo have given officials some unexpected ideas. Apparently, very 'constructive' and 'timely' proposals have been made over the past week to settle the situation by creating some state body for religious affairs," Lebedev said in a statement obtained on Tuesday.
The attitude of the church to such projects is "very ordinary and is definitely negative," he said.
"Of course, the Orthodox Church and the heads of traditional religions have consistently opposed the revival of the council on religious affairs, even under the new, evasive name 'ombudsman's office. Some clergymen and public figures have presented serious arguments against this initiative. The Union of Orthodox Citizens is asking for them to be heeded," the statement says.
Lebedev said the creation of "a commissariat for religious affairs" will lead to the restriction and weakening of the Russian church as "a major power-forming institution" and will create "a system of checks and balances" in the form of "sects, division groups, radical liberalism, and pseudo-religious extremism."
Lebedev said he is not against establishing a post or body for ethnic and migrant issues, but said it should be stated expressly that this body will not be in charge of religious issues.
"In our view, the state should not pressure the Russian Orthodox Church and other traditional religions in any way by creating 'a mediator state body," but, on the contrary, should do everything to develop social partnership with it," he said.