LUTHERAN PASTOR PERSECUTED IN KALUGA
Igor Knyazev, Bishop of SEDO ELC AC, sent the following petition to the authorities of Kaluga Region and the city of Kaluga, as well as to the regional law enforcement agencies:
P E T I T I O N
I petition the heads of the administrations of the city of Kaluga and Kaluga Region, the heads of the law enforcement agencies and the mass media:
Yesterday, on 20 May 2015, Pastor Dmitry Martyshenko, Senior Priest of St. George Parish in Kaluga, who is well known in Kaluga for his social activism, informed me of a blatant act of vandalism committed against the parish building of our community located near the residential building 77-b on Saltykov-Schedrin Street in Kaluga. Photographs of the façade of the parish building and the adjacent structures vividly demonstrating the results of this act are attached to this petition.
A few days before this incident Pastor Dmitry Martyshenko’s motor car was destroyed in the circumstances that give every reason to presume an incendiary crime.
The Lutheran community of Kaluga has a long history of several centuries. In the Soviet era the temple erected in XIX century by the faithful was confiscated from the community and its Pastor and ministers were subjected to repression.
Up to now the historic building of the temple in Kaluga has been used as residential house. Being aware of the complexity of the situation, the faithful of the Lutheran community of Kaluga donated their funds for the construction of a new temple where services have been conducted since February 2008. The temple built through the efforts of the faithful has been the center of their religious life, their place of prayer and Christian communication.
There can be no doubt that the perpetrators knew well what they were doing and had the intention to insult the faithful, commit an act of aggression against them and foment religious hatred.
I stress that the freedom of worship and the legal protection are GUARANTEED to the faithful of all confessions under the Constitution, the laws and the legal regulations of the Russian Federation; and the objective of the law enforcement agencies is to ensure the safety of the RF citizens regardless of their ethnic origin or religion.
The fact that in the last few months Pastor Dmitry Martyshenko was more than once threatened with physical intimidation in Kaluga arouses serious concern.
I ask the government authorities of Kaluga Region and the city of Kaluga, as well as the heads of the law enforcement agencies to take all measures so as to search for and find the malicious persons who have committed this act of vandalism against our community and also to focus on the safeguarding of the Lutheran Community of Kaluga and on the ensuring of the freedom of worship for its members.
+ Igor Knyazev
Bishop of SEDO ELC AC