SUKHUM -- The Parliament has adopted in the second reading, but without the preamble, the draft law "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations."
The preamble notes that Abkhazia is a secular state and respects all world religions: Christianity, Islam, Judaism and other religions, as well as traditional Abkhazian religion as an integral part of the spiritual life of the peoples of the world and the people of Abkhazia.
Deputy Said Kharazia proposed to the Committee on Education, Science, Culture, Religion, Youth and Sports to change the preamble and draft a new version that emphasizes the special role of the Orthodox Church in the history of Abkhazia, taking into account the right to profess other world religions. This proposal was not supported by the relevant committee. None of the proposed changes received the approval of the majority of deputies. The Conciliation Commission adopted a compromise decision to put the bill to a vote without the preamble.
Deputy Akhra Bzhania, who presented the bill, explained that all MPs can continue to work on the law and submit their proposals before it is passed in the third reading. He sees no fundamental contradictions and believes that "all that is needed is to finalize and reach agreement on a few articles.”
The law on religion adopted in the second reading allows religious organizations legal status, the right of ownership, the right to engage in publishing and educational activities, to develop contacts, and more."Today, religious organizations in Abkhazia function at the level of non-profit or public organizations," Bzhania added.