Over 80% of Russians support stricter punishment of religious feelings insult

Eighty-six percent of Russians say there are no restrictions on their freedom of worship, the Russian Public Opinion Study Center said.

Followers of non-Orthodox religions (16 percent) claim pressure more frequently than others. Six percent say they are rejected by people of a different belief, according to the sociological report received by Interfax.

Orthodox Church followers who claim abuse (8 percent) mostly speak about hooliganism in churches (2 percent). Meanwhile, atheists are concerned about pressure of the authorities (3 percent).

Seventy-three percent of the respondents said they had heard nothing about insulting religious feelings. Sixteen percent said they had about certain episodes, and five percent said such episodes were numerous. The most noticeable forms of abuse were the sawing off of crosses (30 percent), theft of holy objects (17 percent), vandalism of holy places (13 percent) and attacks on clerics (13 percent).

Eighty-two percent of Russians, mostly United Russia supporters (87 percent), people older than 45 (85 percent), and Orthodox believers (85 percent) back up stricter punishment of vandalism, damage done to church property and insulting religious feelings. The idea was rejected by 12 percent of the respondents, mostly people aged from 25 to 34 (16 percent), supporters of non-parliamentary parties (19 percent), non-believers (18 percent) and followers of non-Orthodox religions (20 percent).

The center polled 1,600 people in 138 towns and cities in 46 regions on Sept. 7-8.

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