ICC NOTE: A missionary from the LDS church (Ladder Day Saints) was deported from Russia to Ukraine last week on a “technicality” with his visa. Drake Oldham had already been in country for one and half years nearing the completion of his two year mission in Samara, Russia. According to church sources for the LDS, six members of their church have been deported from Russia after run ins with the police stemming from the controversial Yarovaya laws which restrict missionary activity and require those who partake in the activity to register with an authorized religious organization or face heavy fines. Foreign nationals risk deportation as Drake and the other LDS missionaries experienced.
8/31/2016 Samara, Russia (HJ News) – A young Cache Valley man carrying out his two-year LDS mission in Russia is one of the most recently deported missionaries following the approval of a new law there.
Drake Oldham was nearly done with his mission in Samara, Russia, when he was detained by local authorities and deported to Ukraine over a visa error. His father, Troy Oldham, said his son had already spent a year and a half in the country before he was jailed by police and ultimately relocated.
“We were worried just because there wasn’t a lot of information that was being shared,” Oldham said. “He couldn’t say much when we did talk to him, and there was some latency between when we spoke to him and when we heard from him again.”
Oldham says he and his wife first got word in an email sent Monday by Drake Oldham saying they had were having a “tough time” regarding their visas. It wasn’t until a week later when they had received word about what action the government took.
“On Wednesday morning, we’re getting the kids ready for school, and we got a call from him just confirming that they were going to be deported due to those technicalities,” Oldham said.
Known as the Yarovaya law, the new rule’s stated purpose is to provide Russia with new powers as a counterterrorism measure. The law restricts religious gatherings from any entity that is not the Orthodox Christian Church, the most predominant religion in Russia.