RUSSIA RELIGION NEWS


Official request to release American missionaries to go home

DOCUMENT: UNJUST DECISION OF COURT AND ILLEGAL INCARCERATION

 

Complaint of CJCLDS against illegal treatment of two church volunteers in Krasnodar territory

 

To: Plenipotentiary for human rights in Russian Federation

T.N. Moskalkova

Copy: Plenipotentiary for Human Rights in Krasnodar territory

S.V. Myshak

 

Complaint:

(in manner prescribed in articles 16-17 of federal constitutional law "On plenipotentiary for human rights in the Russian Federation")

 

The centralized religious organization "Religious Association of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Russia" maintains extensive international ties and contacts with foreign fellow believers and regularly invites volunteers from abroad. One of the forms of volunteer activity, provided by the charter of the religious association, is the conduct, on a cost-free basis, of discussions in foreign languages for explaining the traditions, heritage, and culture of adherents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in other countries and for promoting of a healthy lifestyle of believers.

 

On 1 March 2019, American citizens Cole Davis Brodovsky and David Udo Hague, volunteers visiting from the U.S.A., participated in the conduct of such an event in the English language in the city of Novorossiisk, in premises rented by the religious association for conducting charter activity. The event was interrupted by personnel of the Department of Police of the Directorate of the Russian M.V.D. for the city of Novorossiisk, who arrived along with several film crews. On the basis of the results of an inspection, the actions of foreign citizens were seen to contain indicators of violations of law under part 2 of article 18.8 of the Code of Administrative Violations of Law of the RF, to wit, inconsistency between the stated purpose of entry and the actual conduct of activity during a stay in the RF. On 2 March 2019, a judge of the Primorsky district court of the city of Novorossiisk found these citizens of the U.S.A. to be guilty and assessed a penalty in the form of a fine of 2,000 rubles plus administrative expulsion beyond the borders of the Russian Federation. According to the ruling of the judge, the violation consisted in the fact that they came to the RF on a humanitarian visa with the goal of a tour by "Religious Matters," but they actually engaged in educational activity of teaching the English language. From documents presented to the court by the police (protocol of administrative violation of law, report) it follows that Brodovsky and Hague "communicated in the English language with Russian citizens attending a meeting." The court equated such communication—in the absence of a syllabus, textbooks, or any grading—with educational activity, that is, with "educational work performed by pedagogical workers" (article 47 of the federal law "On education in the Russian Federation").

 

In accordance with an almost two-hundred-year-old tradition, volunteers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints conduct their ministry voluntarily and without charge. According to the teaching of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, humanitarian ministry, including conducting for those who desire it practice for improving knowledge of the English language by means of conversation with its speakers as one of the forms of charitable activity, is an inseparable part of the religious activity of members of the church. Thus their conversation in the English language with citizens of Russia, who are taking advantage of the opportunity offered to them for improving linguistic skills, comports fully with the goals of their entry into the Russian Federation.

 

In accordance with article 25.6 of the federal law "On procedure of exit from RF and entrance into RF" the usual humanitarian visa is issued to a foreign citizen who is entering the RF for purposes of performing academic, or cultural, or socio-political, or athletic, or religious ties and contacts (with the exception of conducting professional religious activity, including missionary activity, on a labor or civil-legal contract with religious organizations), or pilgrimage, or charitable activity, or for delivering humanitarian aid. Thus the visas received by the aforementioned American citizens permitted them to participate in cultural and educational activity.

 

The court, without any rationale, not only imposed on them the maximum punishment provided by part 2 of article 18.8 of the Code of Administrative Violations of Law of the RF, but also chose its most severe form—compulsory expulsion (and not controlled independent exit from the RF). Brodovsky and Hague were placed into a center for temporary confinement of foreign citizens who are subject to administrative expulsion, deportation, and readmission outside the borders of the Russian Federation. At the present time, the aforementioned foreign citizens are staying in the center for temporary confinement.

 

In accordance with article 34 of the federal law "On the legal status of foreign citizens in the Russian Federation," administrative expulsion of a foreign citizen outside the borders of the RF is conducted at the expense of the resources of the foreign citizen being expelled or at the expense of resources of the party inviting him. The inviting party for David Udo Hague is the local religious organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Rostov oblast and for Cole Davis Brodovsky, the local religious organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Saratov oblast. Both of these organizations express a readiness to immediately pay all expenses for the administrative expulsion of David Udo Hague and Cole Davis Brodovsky, including obtaining airplane tickets to the U.S.A for them. However their petition for expediting the execution of the judicial rulings has remained without response.

 

On 7 March 2019, the Krasnodar territory court left without change the orders issued by the judge of the Primorsky district court of the city of Novorossiisk. Thus after they take effect, the bodies executing the judicial orders do not have any reason for delays in sending the aforementioned foreign citizens to the U.S.A. The stay of the foreign citizens in the center for temporary maintenance, actually depriving them of liberty without any basis after the order of the court for expulsion took effect, represents an illegal restriction of their constitutional rights.

 

In connection with the aforesaid, we request in the manner prescribed by article 27 of the federal constitutional law "On the plenipotentiary for human rights in the Russian Federation," to grant a recommendation to the pertinent state bodies regarding possible and necessary measures for the immediate dispatch of David Udo Hague and Cole Davis Brodovsky to the U.S.A. at the expense of the parties inviting them.

 

President of the religious association

(signature) A.V. Samaikin

8 March 2019

(tr. by PDS, posted 13 March 2019)

Russian original posted on portal Credo.Press, 13 March 2019


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