SAKI, CRIMEA – YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR YOUR EVANGELISM
Baptist evangelists sentenced to major fines
10 мая группа евангелистов из г. Саки, Республика Крым, приехал в деревню Maryanovka в Красногвардейском районе, чтобы поздравить жителей села с праздником Пасхи. В районе, в окружении высотных жилых домов на друзей начал петь с музыкальным сопровождением. Люди приходили посмотреть их и тех, кто был заинтересован остановилась, чтобы послушать их песни. Спустя некоторое время председатель сельсовета приехал и приказал прекратить мероприятие.
In 15 minutes or so the evangelical session was over and the friends (six Brothers and three Sisters) set off for home. On their way they were stopped by a policeman and taken to the district police station for a lengthy interrogation. Then offense reports were drawn up, their fingerprints were taken, they were photographed. Moreover, their cars were inspected and their books and acoustic equipment were checked. They were released at 1:45 a.m. with the summons to appear in court handed to them.
On 19.05.2015 Sergei Shokha, Anatoly Gerasimenko, Semyon Vinnikov, Denis Vinnikov, Mark Dombrovsky and Elena Kuskova were brought before the court. On 20.05.2015 Galina Romanovich appeared in court. I.V. Shevchenko, Judge of Krasnogvardeysky District, ruled to bring them to administrative responsibility under part 2 of Article 20.2 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation and impose a fine of 20,000 RUR on Brother Sergei Shokha and fines of 10,000 RUR on each of the other evangelists. Court hearing on the offense allegedly committed by Christina Matafonova is scheduled for 15.06.2015.
Court ruling on Case № 5-551/2015 in respect of S.V. Vinnikov (copies of similar rulings were received by other participants of the evangelical session) stated the following: “On 10 May 2015 at around 15:30 S.V. Vinnikov, a member of “Evangelical Christian Baptists” religious organization, was taking part in a public event dedicated to massive congratulation of the citizens which was held…without notification of the executive authorities, thus violating the requirements set out in p. 5 of Article 16 of the Federal Law No. 125-FZ,… as well as Articles 4 and 7 of the Federal Law No. 54-FZ…”
Sergei Vinnikov pleaded not guilty in this offense and explained that, within the meaning of the Federal Law No. 54-FZ, an Easter congratulation could not be considered as a public event, a rally, a procession or a manifestation requiring notification of the executive authorities.
Further on the court ruling read: “As established by the court on the basis of the case files, on 10 May 2015… a meeting of the parishioners of the church of Evangelical Christian Baptists (Saki) took place, and in the course of this meeting the parishioners were extending Easter congratulations to the residents of Maryanovka…”
However, congratulations expressed outdoors in the form of the performance of Christian spiritual songs cannot by any means be described as a meeting. Any meeting requires notification of its potential participants or distribution of public announcements specifying its time and place. Nothing of this type took place in Maryanovka. The event did not violate public order, not did it pose any threat to the safety of its participants or other individuals. Therefore, no special measures were required in order to hold it.
Article 28 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation states the following: “Everyone shall be guaranteed the freedom of conscience, the freedom of religion, including the right to profess individually or together with other any religion or to profess no religion at all, to freely choose, possess and disseminate religious and other views and act according to them.”
Dear friends, let us petition so that the court ruling is reversed and the enforcement proceedings in respect of the Brothers and Sisters are stopped due to the absence of the event of administrative offense.
Let us also pray so that our Lord helps them in spite of oppression to carry on fulfilling His commandment: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature …” (Мар. 16, 15).
Addresses for the petitions:
Supreme Court of the Republic of Crimea
Head of the Republic of Crimea
Public Prosecutor of the Republic of Crimea
Head of Krasnogvardeysky District Administration