12 December 2016
Evangelical Christians and other believers from Ukraine protested against the actions of the occupational government of Russia in Bakhchisarai city of the Crimea, where the local Pentecostal Church “Voice of Hope” (Golos Nadii) was forbidden to worship in their own building.
The peaceful protest was held on December 12, 2016 in front of the Russian Embassy in Kyiv. The event was organized with the participation of the Church of the Christians of Evangelical Faith of Ukraine (CCEFU), which includes the community in Bakhchisarai as member church, the Institute for Religious Freedom reports.
Since August 2016, local authorities of the Crimea has been putting forward different requirements from FSB (security service of Russia), prosecutor’s office and fire services (such as: to fix something, to remove the name of the church and verses of the Holy Scripture from building etc.) to the leaders of church in Bakhchisarai, commented Mykhailo Panochko, Senior bishop of CCEFU.
In this way Russian government forbade the local Pentecostal Church “Voice of Hope” to use their own building on 29 Rakytskogo street in Bakhchisarai for services and other activities.
According to the words of pastor Rustam Fatullaev, Ukrainian Christians are concerned by the actions of the Crimean authorities and urge their Russian coreligionists not to remain silent while watching this lawlessness. Never before had the Pentecostal community in Bakhchisarai, that was founded over 10 years ago, under the laws of Ukraine, felt any restrictions of their right to religion making spiritual and charitable activity in the Crimea.
Christians also help low-income families, homeless people and organize pastoral ministry in prisons. Through the efforts of the Church “Voice of Hope” created and currently work two rehabilitation centers for drug and alcohol addicted. The results of the work of the centers are the real examples of changes in believers’ lives. Many of them managed to overcome their addictions and at this moment they are back to the normal and full life.
Ukrainian Christians urged Russian government to restore the violated rights of Evangelical Christians in Bakhchisarai, what was stressed in the address of CCEFU to Mr. Sergiy Toporov, the Chargé d’Affaires of Russia in Ukraine.
Priests and ministers of other churches, that participated in a mass meeting, including the Ukrainian Christian Evangelical Church (UCEC), and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), supported persecuted Christians of the Crimea.
Leonid Padun, Senior Archbishop of UCEC, who had to leave Donetsk occupied by pro-Russian militants because of religious persecution, has told that similar religious persecution of Evangelical Christians is still happening in the combat zone in eastern Ukraine.
At the beginning of 2016 the Greek Catholic parish in Donetsk also experienced attacks from occupational government. Pro-Russian militants arranged a meeting near the UGCC temple, propagandizing hatred and religious hostility to all Greek Catholics.
It is worth mentioning that recently pro-Russian militants have illegally confiscated a temple of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Horlivka city of Donetsk region.
IRF informed that in September 2015 the OSCE recorded systematic and purposeful violation of fundamental rights and freedoms in the Crimea, including the freedom of worship and religion.
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