ICC NOTE: Persecution is on the rise in Russia since the implementation of the Yarovaya Laws. According to Mission News Network and Mission Eurasia, the targeting of religious minorities has not been limited to pastors and church leaders but also children’s summer camps. In these situations, much like that of Vacation Bible Schools, foreign missionaries or individuals not of the specific area attend and operate the activities. It is for that reason state authorities have shut down their activities due to them being operated by non-Russians. While the state fears religious extremism, they fear foreign influence and competition against the ROC just as much.
9/8/2016 Russia (Mission News Network) – The first wave of religious restrictions hits Russia, just two months after Putin signed the vague Anti-Terrorism bill into law, and labeled Christians as terrorists.
The Anti-Terrorismm Law
The law was a response to the numerous terrorist attacks that have taken place in Europe over the past year. In efforts to protect itself from further terrorist damage, such is the2015 October plane crash, the Russian government swung to an extreme, and greatly began restricting religious freedoms.
On July 6, 2016, Putin signed into law a bill meant to deter terrorism, but under its power, it also condemned evangelism. The Anti-Terrorism law essentially prohibits proselytizing, preaching, and praying to be held in areas other than officially registered church buildings.
The problem with is the fact many churches have remained unregistered since the communist era. During this time, churches couldn’t own property. Because of this, when the bill became law, it made just about ninety-percent of Russia’s evangelical churches illegal.
Now, foreign ministries and local Russian churches are finding out exactly what they can and can’t do, under the guise of national safety.
Churches in Russia Face Restrictions
Speaking on the topic, Sergey Rakhuba with Mission Eurasia says, “We’re getting information from all different parts of Russia. And, as you see with this article, there was recently an American pastor, [who] was secretly fined for his activity when he was inviting people to his home, for Bible study and for group prayer,” Rakhuba explains.