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Ilyin and others v. Ukraine, No. 74852/14 ECtHR (Fifth Section), 17 November 2022


The refusal to register a Unification Church religious community as a juridical person due to its misleading denomination does not constitute a violation of Article 9 of the ECHR.

Normative references

Art. 9 ECHR
Art. 11 ECHR
Art. 14 ECHR



1. A refusal by the domestic authorities to grant the status of a legal entity to an association of believers amounts to an interference with the right to freedom of religion under Article 9 of the Convention. Where the organisation of a religious community is at issue, Article 9 must be interpreted in the light of Article 11, which safeguards associative life against unjustified State interference.

2. The refusal to register a community amounts to a “limitation” of the right to manifest one’s religion. The fact that the religious community’s lack of legal personality may be compensated in part by running auxiliary associations and organisations is not decisive and does not solve the problem.

3. The mere fact of a State requiring a religious organisation which is seeking registration to take on a name which is not liable to mislead believers and the general public and which enables it to be distinguished from already existing organisations can in principle be seen as a justified limitation on its right to choose its name freely.