Persecution Update on House of Prayer in Verkhnebakansky, Krasnodar Region

Persecution Update on House of Prayer in Verkhnebakansky, Krasnodar Region

The UECB Baptist leadership and countless believers of various denominations have expressed their shock and bewilderment over the actions of local Novorossiysk law enforcement authorities, which caused serious damage to the body of believers in the town of Verkhnebakansky, by sealing the house on July 7, where they held their worship services.

This outrageous situation toward these 40 believers is contrary to the traditionally good and mutually respectful church-state relations established between Baptists and the Russian Federation authorities. Their clearly hostile action openly demonstrates the utter disrespect toward normal citizens of the Russian Federation, who represent of one of the largest Christian denominations officially operating in the Russian Federation.

The group of Baptist believers of Verkhnebakansky is part of the UECB, having all the legal grounds for its existence and conducting all types of religious activities in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation. This can be confirmed with all the relevant documents issued by the local justice department. The group is registered in the Krasnodar Region, and the house belongs to the head of the congregation, where they hold their meetings.

The UECB leadership fully supports these believers, who have filed claims in the courts and the prosecutor's office. We urge both local and central authorities of the Russian Federation to pay close attention to the growing conflict caused by the blatant attempt of unscrupulous officials to restrict religious freedom by restricting religious services of believers of this local community.

Today, NTV channel continued the slander and deceit about the event for all Russia to hear, therefore this story has been written to express the opinion that after Jehovah’s Witnesses, treating Baptist as an extremist cult, has been the obvious case. However, people need to hear the other side. 

So here’s how it REALLY happened:

Yesterday NTV called and said that they wanted to report the “truth” about the situation of the closed residential building, where a religious group registered with the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation was gathering. Today, the NTV channel actually interviewed the Baptist leader and many neighbors, but not a single second of film from these interviews was used in their report. And you know why? Because all the neighbors have no idea as to what is going on. None of them ever complained to the police. Comments about the Baptist group are only positive. Therefore, the report given is contradictory of the eyewitness account. What is seen on TV and the internet has no real backing. 

Now let's go through the very creative version that NTV portrayed.

1."A House of Prayer was closed." Huh? It wasn’t a House of Prayer, but a residential dwelling, where worship service are held. According to Law 125-FZ, Article 16, a religious group notified the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation about the commencement of activities (Article 7 125-FЗ) of 13.04 .2018, registration number 2318010154.

2."Baptists misled officials by obtaining permission to build an ordinary residential building." Nobody misled anyone because this house is really residential and specific people are registered and live there.

3. “You can't forbid beautiful singing, but trying to convert the whole village into a non-Christian way,” the local residents decided and wrote a complaint to the police demanding to check the Baptist church." Funny argument. I wonder how a religious group could convert the whole village into their faith? And most importantly, what kind of "local" residents wrote a complaint to the police? We know perfectly well how complaints are written. We cannot confirm or deny this fact, but we say before God that for 20 years, the conduct of worship on this plot of land has never drawn a single personal complaint addressed to us. 

4. "As a result, the prayer house, which was regularly visited by dozens of people, was closed by court order." Why? The residential house in question is prohibited to be used for religious purposes. This absurd decision of the regional court, was confronted with an appeal filed in May, but which has not yet been considered. At the same time, no law defines what a religious purpose is – This is all for show. 

5.Elena Lysenko, Head of the Russian Federation UFSSP Press Service in the Krasnodar Region: "The reason for the suspension of the organization is the lack of security measures. In particular, the anti-terrorism protection and fire safety. In the rooms where 20 or more people gathered, no security measures were taken. The court decided to suspend the activities of this organization." This is an Absolute lie. First, no activity of the organization is suspended because the religious group is not a legal entity. Secondly, the house is equipped with 14 Automatic fire alarm systems, contracts for its maintenance were signed, all security measures were observed, but when we tried to get a passport of anti-terrorism protection at the Rosguard, we were denied there because of the lack of legislation on the certification of religious buildings. But then, it was not religious building, this is a residential building.

6.”The check was conducted by security officials. The law enforcement officers came to Evangelical Christian Baptist’s in the middle of Sunday service. Then the operatives and the police took a place at the podium. The Baptists didn’t understand what the particular claims were, but on social networks they said that the security forces insulted the feelings of believers. Experts rushed to study the problem, and it turned out that the prayer room was open with violations."  What an absurdity! What does the prayer room mean to be open with violations? Who should open it? What is this new order? And who are these experts? And the fact that during the celebration of Holy Communion, 12 outsiders broke into the house without warning, disrupted the service, and threatened those inside - is this not an insult to religious feelings?

7. Alexander Neveev, the religious scholar: “They closed it on perfectly clear legal grounds. Another thing is that carriers of non-traditional religiosity are often negligent about Russian legislation, and do not consider that they are obliged to observe it.” What is this garbage accusation? What negligence to the Russian legislation? And what is this term - non-traditional religiosity? These comments are superfluous ...

8. "Evangelical Christians-Baptists in the region are not particularly desired." And where is this from? What does it means they are not desired? How to understand this?

9. “Although they looked quite harmless. They arranged children's parties, and fed the homeless, but at the same time they were very obsessively inviting local people to join them, and those people did not like it." Who defined the obsession test? Are good works now perceived as negative and obtrusive?

10. "Alexander Neveev, a religious scholar: "People who are members of such organizations, in some cases are capable of being fanatics. And so naturally, if there are any complaints from people dissatisfied with such closed groups, law enforcement agencies tend to respond to such requests in a timely manner."  In other words, he’s saying the official religious group that has a registration number in the Ministry of Justice, according to the religious scholar, is a closed group? I think that the competence of this “scholar” is doubtful.

11."Besides, the Baptists themselves are not going to stop and are already preparing response complaints to local officials. They still have several days left to appeal."  And this is absolutely true! Today an appeal application was submitted to the city and regional prosecutor's office. Tomorrow a complaint will be filed with the FSSP and an administrative lawsuit.

We believe that God will turn all this evil into good! "

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