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Ukraine pastor detained in armed raid on church by separatist authorities

East Europe

Ukraine pastor detained in armed raid on church by separatist authorities

Valery Bolotov proclaims the Act of Independence of the Luhansk People’s Republic, 12 May 2014. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Armed men raided a church in Alchevsk, eastern Ukraine last month and detained a church pastor.

The men, apparently from the security ministry of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), interrupted a service and forced the congregation to lie face down on the floor. They then seized the church’s computer. The pastor and a number of other leaders were detained for several hours and then ordered to appear in court.

In February 2018, authorities in the autonomous region of the LPR announced that all religious associations would be required to register by the end of August. In July, the security ministry posted on its website that it had banned the activity of Ukrainian Union of Evangelical Christian/Baptist churches, which it described as an “extremist religious organisation”.

The LPR was formed in 2014 when eastern Ukraine was plunged into civil war, as Russian-backed separatists fought against the Ukrainian government in Kiev.

Protestant churches in the conflict-racked Lugansk region have been targeted by separatist elements, as they are perceived as pro-European.