Date: December 2, 2017
MOSCOW/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife)-- The majority of those charged under "draconian religion laws" introduced in Russia in July last year have been devoted Christians, a new report claims.
Advocacy group Barnabas Fund said that as of early November 2017, a total of 202 cases had been brought to court since President Vladimir Putin’s government amended anti-terror laws to crack down on “extremism.”
"Of those, 53 percent were against Protestant Christians or organizations," Barnabas Fund noted. Jehovah’s Witnesses – banned earlier this year as “extremist” by the government – were the next most frequently charged group, about 20 percent of cases, activists said.
Most were reportedly charged with violating restrictions on “missionary activity.” Courts can hand down a fine of up to 50,000 roubles (some $850) for breaking the law.
Barnabas Fund said it was primarily concerned about evangelical Christians who regard the Bible as God's Word and often publicly express their faith in Jesus Christ.
In a prayer alert to supporters, the group said it was crucial to "ask the Lord to soften the hearts of the Russian authorities toward evangelical Christians, who have been the ones primarily targeted under the new laws."
The group called for a change to the law, "so that Christians are not penalized for publicly sharing their faith."
President Putin has come under international criticism over a reported crackdown on religious and political rights. Moscow denies wrongdoing. Putin has been seen with Russian Orthodox church leaders who keep close ties with the Kremlin.