The majority of those charged so far under Russia’s new religion laws are Christians.
Figures seen by Barnabas Fund, a Christian aid agency to the persecuted church, show that 53 per cent of those charged since the laws were introduced in July 2016 are Protestant Christians or organisations. The laws were brought into by President Putin to crack down on ‘extremism.
The majority of the 202 court cases were against Christians and most were charged with violating laws against “missionary activity”, which is punishable with a fine of up to 50,000 roubles (equivalent to approximately £640)
Earlier this year, the Russian government set a worrying precedent by entirely banning the activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who the country’s Supreme Court declared were an “extremist group”.
In April, a Protestant pastor was the first person to be deported under the regulations, which are officially aimed at disrupting terrorist activity, but have been used to target Evangelical Christians and other religious minorities.