Ukrainian Baptist goes to Russia seeking converts


Kavkaz Realii, 27 June 2021


The May district court of Kabardino-Balkaria [Republic—K.B.R.] found a Ukrainian citizen, Pavel Gerashenko, guilty of illegal evangelism.  The pastor was brought to administrative accountability on only the third attempt, since the administrative materials of the police lacked complete information about the violation.


The materials of the case say that Gerashenko "conducted missionary activity as a representative of an Evangelical Christians-Baptist church without documentary confirmation of authorization." He allegedly was trying to convert four local Muslim residents to his religion. It was they who were the main witnesses in the case, indicating in the explanatory materials that the pastor described for them the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ through messengers and in a personal meeting. Gerashenko gave them the books "Freedom and the Power of Forgiveness" and "A Flaming Message."


According to Russian legislation, the only persons who have the right to preach are missionaries who have been authorized by registered religious organizations. In Kabardino-Balkaria, there are nine registered organizations and groups of Evangelical Christians-Baptists, but none of them had given such authorizations to the pastor from Ukraine.


The administrative material was reviewed twice by the May district court and both times it was returned to the M.V.D. because of the incompleteness of the information; the first time the officers did not explain whether Gerashenko had authorization as a missionary and subsequently there was a lack of information about his whereabouts. In the end, the Kabardino-Balkaria police established that the pastor had left for his homeland.


On the third time, federal judge Andrei Skripnik concluded that the collected material was sufficient and the evangelical preacher's guilt was proven, and he sentenced him to a fine of 30,000 rubles. Whether the pastor, who is located in Ukraine, will pay the fine and how he will find out about the court's ruling is unknown. (tr. by PDS, posted 29 June 2021)

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