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Moscow Branch of The Salvation Army v. Russia, No. 72881/01, ECtHR (First Section), 5 October 2006


Bad-faith denial of registration of a religious organisation under domestic legislation. Religious association’s loss of legal entity-status.

Normative references

Art. 11 ECHR
Art. 9 ECHR


1. The participation of citizens in the democratic process is to a large extent achieved through belonging to associations in which they may integrate with each other and pursue common objectives collectively.

2. Particularly weighty and compelling reasons are required for refusing to register a religious community that has existed for many years.

(In the present case, Russian authorities refused the registration of a religious association on the grounds that it was an organisation of a supposedly paramilitary nature, it contained the words “branch” and “army” in its name and its founders were foreign nationals).


According to the ECtHR, the refusal to register the applicant organisation’s branch due to its foreign origin and its religious structure amounted to a violation of article 11 in light of article 9 of the Convention.
The present decision inaugurated a series of ECtHR's judgments concerning the failure to register religious associations by the Russian authorities.