BAPTISTS FINED FOR EVANGELISM IN SMOLENSK
Dear Brothers and Sisters
A traveling library of Christian books is open every Saturday near the entrance to Blonye public garden, one of leisure areas in the city of Smolensk. Our friends install their table with books in a place where they do not stand on the way of motor cars and pedestrians.
On 25 October 2014 Victor Pechkurov, Evangelist from the local church of Evangelical Christian Baptists, and Sisters Valentina Brezgunova, Irina Matveyeva and Valentina Lysenko were performing their regular library service. Tractates and books on Christianity were given out for free to anyone who wanted to have them.
Two policemen came up to them at the end of the library service and asked them to show their permissions. The friends replied that they had no permission but their right to profess their religion was guaranteed by the Constitution of the Russian Federation (Article 28).
Then two plainclothesmen came up and introduced themselves as the employees of the Ministry of Interior. They detained the evangelists jointly with the policemen and took them to the local police station referring to a telephone call from someone who requested to check the sectarians in the park.
Police lieutenant Y. Е. Kushtynov drew up an administrative offence report under Part 2 of Article 20.2 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation (Violation of the Established Procedure for Arranging or Conducting a Meeting, Rally, Demonstration, Procession or Picket). After a three-hour interrogation the detainment was over.
On 22.01.2015 Judge K.I. Kiselev of Leninsky District Court, without heeding to Victor Pechkurov’s statement that the event had neither been a rally nor a picket but relying instead on the witness statements of police officers S.V. Nikolayev and K.S. Gudilin and the administrative offense report, found Pechkurov guilty and sentenced him to a fine of 20,000 RUR.
Let us pray and petition for the reversal of the court ruling in respect of Brother Victor Pechkurov and for the removal of obstacles to Evangelism in Russia.
Addresses for petitions:
Smolensk Regional Court
Head of Smolensk City Administration
Public Prosecutor of Leninsky District of Smolensk