Punishments Begin in Russia for New Law Forbidding Sharing of Beliefs Outside Church

By James.B

RUSSIA. (ANS-August 28, 2016) -- The first known punishments have now been handed down under Russia's new amendments punishing the sharing of beliefs.

According to a story by Kate Shellnutt for Christianity Today, the Kremlin announced President Vladimir Putin's approval despite prayers and protests from religious leaders and human rights advocates.

The amendments, including laws against sharing faith in homes, online, or anywhere but recognized church buildings, went into effect July 20.

Christianity Today said to share their faith, citizens must secure a government permit through a registered religious organization, and they cannot evangelize anywhere besides churches and other religious sites. The restrictions even apply to activity in private residences and online.

Reporting for Forum 18 News Service, Victoria Arnold said that in the first case, a Baptist pastor was fined in Noyabrsk in Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region.

In cases in Tver and Oryol, two individuals - both foreign citizens legally living in Russia - were heavily fined, but neither was ordered deported.

Their convictions and the grounds for them leave an ever more confused picture of how this new legislation will be put into practice, Forum 18 commented.

Overall, Forum 18 said, five individuals are known to have been charged so far under the new law.

Aleksei Telius, a Baptist, was fined 5,000 roubles. Vadim Sibiryev, an adherent of Hare Krishna, had his case acquitted. Ebenezer Tuah, a Protestant, was fined 50,000 roubles. Aleksandr Yakimov, a Pentecostal, is scheduled for a court hearing on Aug. 29. Donald Ossewaarde, a Baptist, was fined 40,000 roubles.

Administrative Code Article 5.26, Part 4 punishes "the conducting of missionary activity in violation of (the Religion Law)."

The KremlinFor individuals, Forum 18 reported, this carries a fine of 5,000 to 50,000 roubles. For religious organizations, there's a fine of 100,000 to 1 million roubles.

The new Part 5 fines foreign and stateless persons 30,000 to 50,000 roubles for the same "offence," and the possibility of deportation from the Russian Federation.

The new Part 3 fines religious organizations 30,000 to 50,000 roubles for activities (including the distribution of literature) carried out without displaying their official full names.

A fine of 50,000 roubles ($770 US dollars) represents about six weeks average wages for those working.

For more information visit www.forum18.org.

Photo captions: 1) President Vladimir Putin. 2) The Kremlin, Moscow. 3) Jeremy and Elma Reynalds.

A Jeremy and Elma ReynaldsAbout the writer: Jeremy Reynalds is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, a freelance writer and also the founder and CEO of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter (www.joyjunction.org). He has a master's degree in communication from the University of New Mexico, and a Ph.D. in intercultural education from Biola University in Los Angeles. One of his newest books is "From Destitute to Ph.D." Additional details on the book are available at www.myhomelessjourney.com. His latest book is "Two Hearts One Vision." It is available at www.twoheartsonevisionthebook.com. Reynalds lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife, Elma. For more information, please contact Jeremy Reynalds at jeremyreynalds@gmail.com.  

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