Tensions between Catholics and Orthodox in Russia have risen in recent months. Bishop Jerzy Mazur who leads the diocese based in the Siberian city of Irkutsk was recently prevented from re-entering the country.
Viktor Alksnis of the centrist Russian Regions faction proposed the measure after the Vatican elevated two apostolic administrations to four regular dioceses, a move the Orthodox strongly protested. His bill accused Catholicism of treating Russia as a "spiritual wilderness" despite its 1,000-year-old Christian heritage and said Catholic activity threatens Russia's "territorial integrity." The Catholic Church does not recognize the concept of "canonical territory" and the Vatican said the goal of the diocese was to minister to Catholics and unchurched people interested in Christianity.