(ANS) – A major Christian relief organization warned Thursday, August 5, that government-led repression of Evangelical Christians is on the rise in Eastern Europe, especially across the former Soviet Union . Eastern European Outreach (EEO) said its work was hampered by a crack down on Christians by security forces which allegedly included burning down evangelical churches as well as beating pastors and individual believers. “When Communism failed in 1989, there was great rejoicing around the world (and) Christians rejoiced because they knew that Russia would be open to the Gospel (as) there would be no longer a need to smuggle Bibles behind the Iron Curtain,” EEO said. “Now, 15 years later, there seems to be a shift away from the glory days of religious freedom that followed the fall of the Soviet Union”, EEO added in a statement monitored by ASSIST News Service (ANS) EEO, which provides aid and evangelizes to especially impoverished people such as families, children and prisoners, accused Russian President Vladimir Putin and other politicians of encouraging persecution “This time repression does not come as a result of government edict, but as a result of bureaucratic cronyism. Political expediency is smothering the flames of religious freedom,” said the organization. This year it is unable to carry out some of its activities while it claimed that the Association of Christian Churches (ACCR) in Russia and other groups are still coping with the aftermath of recent violent incidents.