Three Swedish preachers expelled from Russia


SOVA Center for News and Analysis, 6 April 2016


Senior Research Fellow of the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences Roman Lunkin commented especially for the SOVA Center on the news about the expulsion of Swedish missionaries from Russia.


The missionaries deported from Buriatia are preachers of the Lutheran church. They came on invitation of the parish of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ulan-Ide, but as tourists and on tourist visas. Several years ago Lutheran missionaries coming to the church of Ingria also were deported from Russia, since they tried to preach in the Tunka district of Buriatia. In this case, the Swedes entered a specially protected zone not far from the city of Kiakhta.


The current deportation of the missionaries is that rare case when it corresponds fully with Russian legislation. The law defines the rules of stay by foreign citizens in special border zones. In addition, Russian religious organizations know very well that a foreigner with a tourist visa should not preach outside the boundaries of their church. This threatens deportation. Even more so he should not do this in schools (even Russian Christians have not had the right to preach in schools for a long time).


One of the pastors of the protestant church in Ulan-Ude said that it is not clear why the Swedes went into the border zone to evangelize. The party inviting them clearly was badly versed in the law. However, as is known, for genuinely fervent missionaries there cannot be any limit. There were many such stories involving American preachers in the Far East in the 1990s.


News media were quick to declare that representatives of the foreign missionary organization wanted to expand the influence of "nontraditional religious teachings" in Buriatia. And here the journalists are mistaken: Lutheranism is a historically native protestant movement in Russia. The first Lutherans appeared in Russia back in the time of Grand Prince Vasily in the early 16th century. By the end of the 16th century the first Lutheran chapel had been built. In addition, I note that in Buriatia there is a national church or group of a protestant denomination in almost every district, independent of such "tourists." (tr. by PDS, posted 7 April 2016)




Baikal-Daily, 5 April 2016


Swedish missionaries were present in the border zone under the guise of tourists.


Bailiffs of Buriatia expelled three citizens of Sweden beyond the borders of the country.


The foreigners were found by a border patrol in an automobile at the entrance into a specially protected zone not far from the city of Kiakhta. In violation of border rules, the Swedes did not have documents granting the right of entry, temporary stay, and travel in the border zone, the press service of the UFSSP for Buriatia reports.


A court, having reviewed materials of the administrative case, found the foreign citizens guilty of violating the law on the basis of part 1.1 or article 18.2 of the Code of Administrative Violations of Law. The court sentenced each to punishment in the form of a fine of 500 rubles.


In addition, because of the expiration of the periods of stay on the territory of the Russian federation, the decision was made to forcibly expel the Swedish citizens from the country.


"In the course of enforcement proceedings, the foreign citizens, accompanied by bailiffs for ensuring the established order of activity of courts, were taken to Moscow to the checkpoint at Sheremetievo-2. After passing through border control and completing processing documents, the three Swedish citizens were deported to their motherland. On the basis of the facts of crossing the state boundary, the enforcement proceedings were finished by actual enforcement," noted Batunai Pavlov, the chief of the specialized department for operations of the UFSSP of Russia for the republic of Buriatia.


According to information from Baikal-Daily's source, the Swedes were representatives of a foreign missionary organization. It cannot be ruled out that they were prepared to enlarge the influence of nontraditional religious teachings in Buriatia. At the same time, according to official documents, the Swedes arrived in the republic supposedly as ordinary tourists.


Four years ago, foreign missionaries also were caught in Buriatia. At that time their target was the distant Tunka district, where Americans had penetrated into a high school by deceptive means. As Tivka reported, instead of the class offering in-depth study of the English language, the foreign guests conducted lessons in Lutheran spiritual and worldview values. (tr. by PDS, posted 7 April 2016)

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