Russia: dozens of 'missionary activity' convictions in first half of 2020

Published 08 September 2020  |  
(Photo: Unsplash/ISchelkanov)
St Isaacs Cathedral in Russia, Saint-Petersburg.

There were dozens of prosecutions for "missionary activity" in the first half of 2020 in Russia.

There were 40 prosecutions of individuals and two of organisations, with 36 resulting in convictions and fines, Forum 18 reports.

They were convicted under Article 5:26 of Russia's July 2016 Administrative Code, which criminalises "illegal missionary activity".

Of the four foreigners who were charged, the courts ordered the deportation of two. They were sent to immigration detention centres ahead of their deportation and it is believed that one of them, Tajik citizen Fayzali Kholmurodov, is still in detention six months after his conviction in February this year because Tajikistan's borders have been closed due to the pandemic

According to Forum 18, the number of cases reaching the courts dipped slightly between January and June 2020, most likely owing to restrictions in place because of coronavirus.

The list of convictions for this period include:

- Baptist ministry leader Anatoly Chipilka in Krasnodar, southern Russia, who was fined 5,000 roubles for carrying out an unspecified missionary activity without notifying the Justice Ministry of the group's existence.

- Lyudmila Akimenko, another Baptist, who was fined 5,000 roubles by the court in Orenburg, near the border with Kazakhstan, for distributing religious literature to passers-by in the street without authorisation from a religious group or notification to the Justice Ministry of the existence of a religious group.

- Konstantin Nazarov, the Protestant pastor of an unregistered church in the Republic of Adygeya, in the North Caucasus, who invited local residents to services. He was fined 5,000 roubles for carrying out missionary activity without notifying authorities of the religious group's existence.

- Nikita Glazunov, the leader of Catholic religious group, the Society of Saint Pius X, in Tatarstan, who was charged with organising Latin Mass in a hotel conference room that involved a "foreign preacher" who did not have written authorisation from the religious group to perform missionary activity.

- Anatoly Feoktistov, a Pentecostal pastor fined 5,000 roubles in Chelyabinsk, west central Russia, after holding Sunday services in a residential building.

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