Monday, March 20, 2017

RUSSIA : More convictions in Russia for missionary activity

Image result for Uritsky district court in Oryol OblastThe law has cracked down again on illegal missionary activities in Russia. 

The Uritsky district court in Oryol Oblast (about 400 kilometres south-west of Moscow) fined three Evangelical Baptists for violating the Yarovaya law on missionary activity.
According to Orlovskie Novosti, the defendants were convicted under article 5.26 of the Code of Administrative Violations of the Law (Violation of legislation on freedom of conscience and freedom of religious confession and religious associations) and fined 5,000 rubles (US$ 86).

The court found the Baptists guilty of illegally engaging in the distribution of religious literature and inviting people to their religious meetings without prior notification to the Russian Ministry of Justice about the start of their activity, as required by the law.

The law is named after Irina Yarovaya, deputy speaker of the State Duma (lower house of parliament). Together with Senator Viktor Ozerov, she proposed a package of "anti-terrorism" rules that was adopted in July 2016, which deals with, among other things, missionary activities.

Article 05.26, paragraph 4, of the Code of Administrative Violations of the law imposes administrative sanctions with fines ranging from 5,000 to 50,000 rubles for individuals, and 100,000 to 1,000,000 for legal entities.

The first decision based on the Yarovaya Law came on 30 September 2016 when a court in Oryol sentenced Donald Ossewaard, a Baptist missionary from the United States, to a fine of 40,000 rubles.

The American challenged the fine in the Russian Supreme Court but failed, so he announced that he would leave Russia after 14 years of residence in the country.