The head of US diplomacy, Antony Blinken, reported this record is completed by Myanmar, China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and North Korea.
On Wednesday, the United States announced that it added Russia to its blacklist of countries “of particular concern” in terms of in religious freedom.
On the contrary, Nigeria, which had been included in this list last year, was withdrawn, according to a statement from the head of US diplomacy, Antony Blinken, which is expected this week in that African country.
The other countries listed for “having perpetrated or tolerated gross, systematic and persistent violations of religious freedom” are the same as in 2020: Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, China, North Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. In addition, Cuba, Nicaragua, Algeria, and Comoros are on the intermediate list of “under surveillance” states.
“The United States will not deviate from its commitment to uphold freedom of religion and belief for every country,” Blinken said.
“In many places in the world, we continue to see governments harass, detain, threaten, imprison and kill people simply because of their willingness to live up to their beliefs.”
This latest annual report by US diplomacy on religious freedom in Russia highlighted “the misuse of the anti-extremism law to restrict peaceful activities of religious minorities.”
Among those groups classified by Russia as extremists and therefore banned are the Christian group Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Muslim Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Tensions between Russia and the United States have recently escalated despite optimistic statements by Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin at a summit in June.
The confrontation issues are diverse and range from Russian military activities near Ukraine, Putin’s absence from the COP26 climate conference, or continuous cyberattacks.
Austin acknowledged this at a press conference at the Pentagon before traveling to Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. “We continue to see problematic behavior from Russia. It causes us deep concern,” said the US official.
Specifically, he cited the concentration of Russian soldiers near the border with Ukraine and their recent anti-satellite test, activities that, he stressed, “do not favor the security environment.”
“The truth is that we do not know exactly what President (Vladimir) Putin is looking for,” he added. For this reason, the Pentagon chief asked Moscow to “be more responsible and transparent” in its military activities.
The US State Department, NATO, and the US space agency NASA have described the Russian anti-satellite test as “reckless,” “dangerous,” and “irresponsible,” claiming that it put the crew of the International Space Station “at-risk” ( EEI) by the space debris generated.