putin2Reports, witnesses, recount Putin’s beatings, arrests of Christians, demolition of churches

Evangelical Christians are the victims of increasing violence at the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin, international observers and oppressed Christians report.

The State Department’s “International Religious Freedom Report for 2014” reveals widespread oppression of Christians in Russia and Russia-controlled territories, including kidnappings and beatings of Christians and demolition attacks on churches by police.

The report points to attacks on evangelical and Protestant Christians by Putin-controlled forces in Ukraine.

In the eastern Ukrainian oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk, Russian-backed separatists proclaimed the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics,” the report reads. “In the areas they control, the separatists have kidnapped, beaten, and threatened Protestants, Catholics, and members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, as well as participated in anti-Semitic acts.”

That’s just the beginning of Putin’s attempts to exterminate Protestant Christians and religious minorities in territories he controls.

The State Department details numerous attacks on Protestants, evangelical Christians and other religious minorities.

The report reveals that in just 2014:

In the wake of the Russian Federation’s occupation of Crimea, religious minorities, in particular members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP), the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, and Muslim Tatars, have been subjected to harassment, intimidation, detentions, and beatings…

…Some religious leaders, including the region’s chief reform Rabbi, were threatened and fled in the initial days of the occupation, while many Catholic Priests and nuns and Turkish Imams were denied residency permits and had to leave,” the State Department reports…

…In July the Taganrog City Court had convicted and sentenced seven of the 16 Jehovah’s Witnesses for organizing and attending illegal religious meetings…

…In October authorities in Sochi fined the leader of the religious group Christian Community, Alex Kolyasnikov, 30,000 rubles ($511) for hosting an unauthorized meeting in a public café.

Kolyasnikov was found guilty of “violating the established order for organizing and/or holding meetings, rallies, demonstrations, marches, and pickets” under the law limiting the places in which prayer and public religious observance may be conducted without prior approval.”

…In February Chelyabinsk law enforcement officials inspected a Protestant-run drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in the village of Smolino, removed its beneficiaries, seized religious materials, and threatened criminal charges…

…In July the prosecutor’s office in Vladivostok carried out an inspection of the Church of Evangelical Baptist Christians that resulted in a 19,800-ruble ($337) fine for fire safety violations and a 15-day detention for the church’s pastor.

Church members said authorities had been searching for extremist literature and cited the church for safety violations when they could find no evidence of any material that could be classified as extremist…

… On May 21, a court refused Lutherans in Vyborg restitution of their former parish house, which they hoped to use as the pastor’s accommodation and a Sunday school. The court ruled the intended purpose was not “religious” as required under the Law on the Transfer of Religious Property to Religious Organizations.

Christians in Russia also detail such human rights abuses as demolition attacks on their churches, enforced by Russian police.

“Sveta Romanyuk finds it difficult to talk about what happened the night of Sept. 6, 2012,” CBN News reports.

“What they did was not right. We didn’t even have time to save the Bibles,” she said.

“I want the people who did this to know I still love Christ and I am going to pray for them and our country,” Sveta said.

“In the early hours that September morning, about 45 men, backed by local Russian police, descended on Holy Trinity Pentecostal Church,” CBN reports.

“I got here around 4 a.m. and saw two large excavators tearing through the church building,” Zhidkov Maxim, who attends the church, said. “The police just stood and watched the whole thing.”

“Unfortunately, what we are seeing today is nothing new. For decades evangelical Christians in Russia have experienced similar or worse,” the church’s pastor, Vasily Romanyuk says.

Putin wants to make it clear evangelicals and Protestants will be met with violence in his Russia.

“They chose in front of the entire public, in front of the entire world, in Moscow, in the largest city in Russia, the capital, just to simply level the evangelical church making that statement,” Sergey Rakhuba, with Russian Ministries, said.

Kidnappings, beatings, arrests and destruction of churches aren’t Christian values, but they are Putin’s commandments.