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MOSCOW, September 26 (Itar-Tass) —— Public opinion polls testify to the fact that the majority of Russians support the idea of tougher punishment for hurting god believers’ feelings.
According to the polls conducted by the All-Russia Public Opinion Centre (VCIOM), as many as 82 percent of respondents support this idea. Moreover, each fifth respondent said he or she knew about such cases.
The poll’s task was to find out whether people professing various religions encountered violations of their rights to religious freedom. The poll results revealed that such cases are most frequent in respect of people professing religions other than Orthodoxy. A total of 16 percent of the polled told this. Six percent said they were repulsed by people of other religions. Orthodox believers who said their feelings were hurt (about eight percent) most often spoke about hooliganism at charges (two percent). Non-believers were worried about excessive pressure from the state and authorities (three percent).
Three fourth of the polled (73 percent) said they had never heard about cases of insulting religious feelings, although 21 percent said they knew such cases. Sixteen percent however mentioned only few cases while five percent were ready to give numerous examples. Among cases that met a wide public response were chopping down Christian crosses (13 percent), theft of sacred objects (17 percent), vandalism against such objects (13 percent) and assaults on the clergy (13 percent).
Among the 82 percent who spoke in favor of stricter responsibility for vandalism, inflicting damage to church property and insulting believers’ feelings, supporters of the ruling United Russia party (87 percent), people aged over 45 (85 percent), and Orthodox believers (85 percent).
A total of 12 percent however oppose the idea. Among them are young people aged from 25 to 34 (16 percent), supporters of off-parliament parties and people professing religions other than Orthodoxy (20 percent).
The poll was conducted on September 7 and 8, 2012 in 138 settlements in 46 Russian constituent regions and involved 1,600 people. According to the authors, the statistical error was below 3.4 percent.
Earlier in the day, a bill on the protection of citizens’ religious feelings and beliefs was submitted to the Russian State Duma, or lower parliament house. It was initiated by the Duma committee for the affairs of public associations and religious organizations. The bill provides for both administrative and criminal responsibility for such actions.