ECHR: Centre of Societies for Krishna Consciousness in Russia and Frolov v. Russia (no. 37477/11)

The applicants are the Centre of Societies for Krishna Consciousness, a religious organisation under Russian law based in Moscow, and a Russian national Mikhail Aleksandrovich Frolov. The case concerns the applicants’ attempts to challenge hostile descriptions of the Krishna movement and the refusal of permission to hold public religious events promoting the teachings of Vaishnavism.

Relying on Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion), taken alone and in conjunction with Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination), the applicant organisation complains in particular that a brochure “Watch out for cults!” produced by the Ulyanovsk Region described the Krishna movement as a “totalitarian cult”, accusing it of “psychological manipulation” and “zombification” of the youth. It alleges that such descriptions breached the regional authority’s duty of neutrality and impartiality towards the Krishna movement, an officially registered religious organisation.

Mr Frolov complains that the authorities’ refusals to let him hold meetings, because promoting Vaishnavism did not correspond to the purposes of a public event under the relevant law and was incompatible with respect for the religious beliefs of others, breached his rights under Article 9 and Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association).

  • Violation of Article 9 in respect of the applicant organisation
  • Violation of Article 11 interpreted in the light of Article 9 in respect of Mr Frolov

Just satisfaction

  • Non-pecuniary damage: € 7,500 to each applicant
  • Costs and expenses: € 2,000 to the applicants jointly

Press release ECHR 352 (2021) 23.11.2021

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