Russian Baptists are under government pressure to end their activities, local Christians say.
By BosNewsLife News Center in Budapest
MOSCOW/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife) -- Baptists in the Russian town of Lipetsk south-east of Moscow say local authorities are using "a bureaucratic way" to restrict their activities, BosNewsLife monitored Wednesday, December 3.
Two of their local congregations have lost their legal status for failing to file tax returns on time, a claim Pastor Vladimir Boyev has rejected, said the news service of religious rights group Forum 18.
One of the congregations reportedly used a former Orthodox church for nearly 20 years and without legal status cannot defend itself in court as the Orthodox diocese wants the building back.
LOSING WORSHIP PLACE
The third lost its rented place of worship it has used for nearly two decades, apparently amid redevelopment plans. "The court claimed it had invited the congregation to attend a hearing to set compensation, but the Baptists complain they never received an invitation," said Forum 18, which closely monitored the case.
In published remarks, Lipetsk's regional religious affairs official, Olga Fyodorova, said the Baptists are deliberately rejecting possible solutions "in order to aggravate the situation". Asked how the Baptists could defend themselves in court after losing their legal status, she responded: "That's their problem!"
There has been growing pressure on non-Orthodox churches and groups in Russia and other former Soviet states, according to churches and human rights watchers.