Устройство и практики государственной религиоведческой экспертизы в РФ
The paper discusses the practice of ‘state religious expertise’, i.e. a special form
of applying expert knowledge in Russia, primarily for the purpose of registering religious organizations. Authors reveal the real place and functions of this institute, by analyzing data on the activities of special expert committees for the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation and its regional offices over the period 2009–2018, as well as on the interviews with religious studies specialists. Two main problems were found out: the low demand of this knowledge by the Ministry of Justice officials and the existence of expert committees with an obvious conflict of interest. The general number of expert examinations is small, and its significant part is unnecessary, being only a confirmation of the conclusions for which officials have enough of their own competence. Besides, the rules of ‘state religious expertise’ are flexible, and practices vary from one region to another, which puts local religious communities in unequal conditions. In summary, the work of expert committees often may be characterized as formal or fictitious, but it may be used, if necessary, as a barrier against unwelcome religious associations, thereby ensure state intervention in the sphere of religious freedom.