Russia: religious cleansing going on at full speed

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Reprint of an article published by HRWF.

HRWF (11.08.2017) – In the name of the “concept of spiritual security” and on the basis of its “anti-missionary legislation”, Russia is violating one of the most fundamental rights to religious freedom that was however fully recognized by the European Court of Human Rights in the case Kokkinakis v. Greece in 1993: The right to share one’s beliefs with others.

All sorts of religious communities and their members are now persecuted and prosecuted on a scale that has had no equivalent since the Cold War as it is highlighted by a remarkably documented report of Victoria Arnold published on 9 August by Forum 18.

180 individuals and communities brought to court in one year

Forum 18 (09.08.2017) – – More than 180 individuals and communities have been brought to court in the year since “anti-missionary” punishments came into force on 20 July 2016. Forum 18’s list of known cases documents the wide range of people and communities across Russia subjected to such punishments.

More than 180 cases to punish individuals and communities for violating Russia’s “anti-missionary” restrictions are known to have reached court in the year since they came into force on 20 July 2016.

Prosecutions under Administrative Code Article 5.26, Parts 3, 4, and 5 have steadily increased throughout this 12 month period.

Article 5.26, Part 3 punishes “Implementation of activities by a religious organisation without indicating its official full name, including the issuing or distribution, within the framework of missionary activity, of literature and printed, audio, and video material without a label bearing this name, or with an incomplete or deliberately false label”. Article 5.26, Part 4 punishes “Russians conducting missionary activity”. Part 5 punishes “Foreigners conducting missionary activity”.

Forum 18 found 181 cases against 129 individuals and 52 religious communities which reached court between 20 July 2016 (when the amendments entered legal force) and 20 July 2017. Of these, 133 resulted in initial convictions, with 130 fines being imposed. Of the foreigners prosecuted, 5 were ordered deported (though one of these had the deportation order overturned on appeal). More than half the regions in Russia have seen at least one prosecution. Russian citizens comprise the majority of defendants.

Russia has also imposed this legislation in Crimea, which it occupied in March 2014. Forum 18 found 27 administrative cases in the year of the “anti-missionary” punishments there, resulting in fines in 16 of the cases so far. (…)

All communities are concerned or under threat

As the cases hereafter clearly show, all religious denominations and their members are concerned, except the Russian Orthodox Church/ Moscow Patriarchate: Jehovah’s Witnesses, Protestants (Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Baptists, Seventh-Day Adventists and others), Muslims, Buddhists, Salvation Army, Jews, Hare Krishna devotees, some Orthodox Churches not affiliated to the Moscow Patriarchate, Mormons, etc.

Most of these communities have been attacked for years by Orthodox antisect organizations in Russia and in particular by Alexander Dvorkin, vice-president of the FECRIS (European Federation of Centers of Research and Information on Cults and Sects), which is massively funded by the French government.

The religious repression also targets foreigners from various countries: Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, India, Nigeria, South Korea, Ukraine and United States.
The cases listed below come from the report of Victoria Arnold. She has documented each of them with the data that she has managed to collect. Her full report is available at

Human Rights Without Frontiers has widely documented the cases of the Danish Jehovah’s Witness Dennis Christensen, currently in pretrial detention for six months, and of several members of the Church of Scientology, also in pretrial detention for several months: Anastasia Terentieva, Galina Shurinova, Ivan Matsitskiy and Sakhib Aliev. (See HRWF Database of documented religious prisoners of all faiths at

Human Rights Without Frontiers also organized a conference on religious freedom in Russia at the European Parliament on 6 June to alert the EU and its member states about the ban of Jehovah’s Witnesses and to raise to the alarm bell concerning the situation of religious non-Orthodox minorities in Russia.


Cases under Article 5.26, Part 3

Administrative Centre of the New Apostolic Church in Russia Sharypovo Jehovah’s Witness community Igor Osipenko, Jehovah’s Witness Jehovah’s Witness community, Khabarovsk Jehovah’s Witness community of Zelenogorsk Word of Life Pentecostal Church, Samara Salvation Army Vitaly Shmidt, pastor Salvation in Jesus Evangelical Church Faith, Hope, Love Seventh-day Adventist Church

Nizhny Tagil Evangelical Christian Church Siberian Christian Mission of Mercy Aksyonovo Muslim community Good News Evangelical Church Glorification Evangelical Church, Sharypovo Aleksandr Mikhailov, pastor Tauba Muslim community Ramazan Muslim community Dzhuma Muslim community Oleg Gorobets, pastor of Rebirth Baptist Union Church, Samara A.V. Tselykh (unknown Christian denomination) Al-Radzhab Muslim community, Belozerye village Al-Furkan Muslim community, Belozerye village Andrei Okhapkin, chair of Kineshma Jehovah’s Witness community House of Life Evangelical Church, Vladivostok Presbyterian Spiritual Seminary Light of Truth Pentecostal Church, Bryansk House of Prayer Evangelical Church Antioch Baptist Union Church, Chita Central Nizhny Novgorod Jehovah’s Witness community Jesus Christ Pentecostal Church, Nizhny Tagil Pentecostal Church of the Last Time Salsk Jehovah’s Witness community Source of Life Pentecostal Church Ildar Urazbakhtin, chair of Boguchany Jehovah’s Witness community Ivanovo Jehovah’s Witness community Ernist Mikhailov, chair of Jewish community Among Your Own Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) Glory of God Pentecostal church, Syktyvkar New Testament Evangelical Church Embassy of Christ Union of Evangelical Churches in Nizhny Novgorod Region Salvation in Jesus Evangelical Church Embassy of Christ Biblical Centre, Nizhny Novgorod V.M. Maltsev (Association of Local Churches of Evangelical Christians) Liberation in Jesus Evangelical Church Light of Christ Pentecostal Church, Nizhny Novgorod Transfiguration Evangelical Church Voice of Hope Evangelical Church Dmitry Taranenko, chair of Chelyabinsk Jehovah’s Witness community Among Your Own [Sredi Svoikh] Jewish community Makhalla-Mosque No. 2230, Korkino Baptist Union Church of Vanino

Cases under Article 5.26, Part 5 (“Foreigners conducting missionary activity”) Donald Ossewaarde, American independent Baptist preacher legally resident in Russia (He filed a complaint with the European Court) Ebenezer Tuah, Ghanaian Christ Embassy Protestant leader

Kalsang Dkhondul, “stateless person

Irina Tishchenko, Ukrainian New Generation Pentecostal pastor

William Curtis Norton, Jr., American charged with preaching at a Seventh-day Adventist meeting

Ts. Kus, Foreign citizen, Jehovah’s Witness

Victor-Immanuel Mani, Indian Protestant Christian (with right of residence in Russia)

Vladimir Sukhanov, Ukrainian citizen – religious affiliation unknown

A.V. Rudenko, foreign citizen, priest of an unregistered (unidentified) religious association

Consmance Maziku, citizen of Democratic Republic of Congo, student and member of the Kirov Evangelical Bible Church

Issa Salifu, Ghanaian V.Ye. Maslova, Ukrainian Jehovah’s Witness

Clever Ogenerobo Light, a Nigerian student at Kursk State Medical University; affiliated with Protestant Dunamis International Gospel Centre

Eun Chul Sin, South Korean pastor of Protestant Good News church

Zh.Yu. Ong, South Korean Protestant pastor

Cases under Article 5.26, Part 4 (“Russians conducting missionary activity”)

Aleksei Teleus, Baptist Union pastor

Vadim Sibiryev, Hare Krishna devotee

Aleksandr Yakimov, New Generation Pentecostal leader

Archbishop Sergei Zhuravlyov, Ukrainian Reformed Orthodox Church

Geshe Gualtso Dakpa, Buddhist monk (Indian-born, but a Russian citizen), director of “Centre for the Teachings of Nagarzhuna” in Kyzyl

Ivan Denisov, Protestant leader (House of the Potter Church)

S.P Kozin, Jehovah’s Witness

Mayma Seventh-day Adventist Church Andrei Matyuzhov, New Generation Pentecostal pastor

Ivan Kumbrasyev, Protestant pastor

I.V. Parmon, Jehovah’s Witness

S.A. Furman, Jehovah’s Witness Ivan Denisov, Protestant leader (House of the Potter Church)

Olga Matyuzhova, New Generation Pentecostal pastor

L.G. Pyshnaya, Jehovah’s Witness

Andrei Puchkov, Hare Krishna devotee

Vasili Zaitsev, Protestant Yuri Dachev, Word of Life Pentecostal Church pastor V.S. Sidorov, Baptist

Exodus Evangelical Church Andrei Sysolyatin, Hare Krishna devotee

Andrei Puchkov, Hare Krishna devotee

Aleksei Mokiyev, Protestant Konstantin Petrenko, Council of Churches Baptist pastor

Dmitry Ugai, Hare Krishna devotee and yoga teacher Ilya Matveyev, Hare Krishna devotee

Name: R.G. Gasanaliyev, Protestant

Pyotr Yemelevsky, Hare Krishna devotee

T.I. Sukhanova, Jehovah’s Witness

Mikhail Ishenin, Jehovah’s Witness

Vitaly Ryazanov, Baptist pastor

T.V. Lipishina, Jehovah’s Witness

Nizhny Tagil Evangelical Christian Church, organisation also convicted under Part 3 (see above)

Vilyuchinsk Jehovah’s Witness community Sergei Seleznyov, Jehovah’s Witness

Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky Jehovah’s Witness community O.M. Rakhimkulov, Baptist

Sergei Merkulov, pastor of Council of Churches Baptist church

Mikhail Pugachyov, pastor of Council of Churches Baptist church

Sergei Suprunenko, director of unregistered Council of Churches Baptist religious group

V.I. Sergeyeva, Protestant Aleksandr Khramugin, Baptist

Andrei Novikov, Baptist

Aleksandr Bychkov, Baptist

V.I. Polkovnikova, Protestant V.N. Lukina, Jehovah’s Witness

V.I. Nasonova, Jehovah’s Witness

Islam Gadzhiyev, Muslim

Vladimir Klimenko, leader of religious group Christians of Evangelical Faith

R.R. Mannanova, Protestant F.R. Muratov, Protestant R.A. Akhmetyanova, Protestant A.G. Vakhitova, Protestant Ivan Manakov, Baptist shopkeeper

Marat Zhambulov, member of the Evangelical Christian Youth Movement of Buryatia

Aleksei Pomazov, Hare Krishna devotee

Anatoly Mukhin, Baptist pastor Unknown (man), Protestant Aleksandr Kutyavin, Baptist Union pastor

Anton Ryzhkov (“Svetozar Ryzhkov”), leader of religious group “Pokon Roda”, part of a “non-traditional religious movement”

P.V. Kotlyarenko, Jehovah’s Witness

T.A. Mandrichenko, Jehovah’s Witness

Sergei Kriulin, Russian Orthodox priest (Russian Orthodox Church Abroad which did not rejoin the Moscow Patriarchate in 2007)

O.A. Porokhova, Nizhny Tagil Evangelical Christian Church Ye.V. Kalinin, Nizhny Tagil Evangelical Christian Church

V.I. Novoselov, Nizhny Tagil Evangelical Christian Church

V.L. Poluboryatsev, Nizhny Tagil Evangelical Christian Church

P.V. Kornilov, Nizhny Tagil Evangelical Christian Church

S.I. Golovachev, Nizhny Tagil Evangelical Christian Church

Mikhail Bezgans, Baptist

V.V. Volkov, Baptist

L.I. Konovalova, religious affiliation unknown Jesus Christ Evangelical Church, Nizhny Tagil Svetlana Tarasova, Baptist

Z.A. Dzhafarov, Jehovah’s Witness

Olga Supranovich, Hare Krishna

Kifoyatullo Mirzoyev, an unofficial imam

Inna Khaziakhmetova, Hare Krishna

A.V. Mazepov, religious Christian affiliation unknown G.M. Goncharov, Jehovah’s Witness

Ivan Denisov, Protestant

Aleksandr Kulikov, Hare Krishna leader

Northern Tomsk Jehovah’s Witness community Northern Tomsk Jehovah’s Witness community R.A. Faradzhov, unknown religious affiliation S.P. Barchenkova, unknown religious affiliation Vladimir Lashchuk, chair of a Jehovah’s Witness community

D.Kh. Sharafeyev, Protestant L.S. Kharkova, unknown religious affiliation L.L. Dallakyan, Jehovah’s Witness

Saniya Voyteshina, Jehovah’s Witness

Valery Vyatkin, a Council of Churches Baptist pastor

V.V. Fedorov, Jehovah’s Witness

A.V. Rybakov, unknown religious affiliation N.S. Ivanova, unknown religious affiliation O.A. Lenin, Jehovah’s Witness

G.A. Lenina, Jehovah’s Witness L.N. Kvasova, Jehovah’s Witness N.E. Ilyumzhinova, Jehovah’s Witness

Embassy of Christ Association of Evangelical Churches Naberezhniye Chelny Jehovah’s Witness community A.P. Mayevsky, unknown religious affiliation V.V. Pestova, Jehovah’s Witness

P.V. Alekseyev, Jewish Sergei Belyayev, Hare Krishna leader

Suriya Bezbatchenko, Protestant

R.S. Vasilyev, Protestant T.P. Vasilyeva, Baptist

A.I. Glazkov, unknown religious affiliation D.A. Rublyovsky, religious affiliation unknown Iraida Vezhova, religious affiliation unknown Sergei Stepanov, head of Tree of Eternal Life Baptist Union mission organisation