Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken. (Photo by Felipe Stanley / Agencia Press South / Getty Images)
The United States on Monday added Russia to a blacklist of countries designated for “gross violations of religious freedom,” the State Department said.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that he designated Russia, as well as China and eight other states, as countries of concern “for having engaged in or tolerated ‘systematic, persistent and gross violations of religious freedom’. “
Nigeria, which was on the list last year and where Blinken will visit this week, was removed.
The other countries still on the US list of “violations of religious freedom” are Myanmar, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
Algeria, the Comoros, Cuba and Nicaragua were placed on an observation list.
“The United States will not relinquish its commitment to advocate for religious or religious freedom for all and in all countries,” Blinken said.
“In far too many places around the world, we continue to see governments harassing, arresting, threatening, imprisoning and killing individuals simply because they are trying to live their lives in accordance with their beliefs.”
On Wednesday, Blinken embarked on a trip with three nations in Africa, warning of growing threats to democracy on the continent.
His visit began in Kenya and will also include Senegal as he stresses a new US engagement in Africa.
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