Saturday, December 1, 2018

Baptists Say Russia’s ‘Operation Intimidation’ Will Spread to Other Faiths

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 30 – Even those who accept that unjust laws must be observed until they are repealed say that the actions of Russian officials in Naberezhny Chelny against a Baptist minister are intended not to enforce the law but to intimidate Evangelical Baptists and ultimately the faithful in all but the four officially backed “traditional” religions of Russia.

            A week ago, police in that Middle Volga city arrested Baptist minister Leonid Povorov for baptizing believers in public without securing advanced permission from officials even though they had not given him notice, brought the pastor in shackles to the courtroom, and imposed a 20,000-ruble (330 US dollar) fine.

            Both locally and at the national level, Baptists have protested these actions. Lawyers for Povorov say they will appeal. But both Baptists and others are now calling this “Operation Intimidation,” a police measure designed not to enforce the law as such but rather to frighten non-Orthodox believers.

            They warn that unless such actions are protested and contested, such official overreach could easily spread to other Protestant groups as well (, and

            Mikhail Tyutnikov, a pastor of Kazan’s Faith and Life church, says that the authorities have the right to insist on registration; but they should not treat religious people as if they were common criminals by bringing them to court in shackles. That represents a dangerous act of “intimidation” against all Protestants.

            Rais Suleymanov, a specialist on Islam and someone known for his criticism of what Russians call “sects,” agrees, noting that “the police allowed themselves excessive crudeness” in this case. They shouldn’t have shackled the minister and thus “created a scandal out of nothing.”  In his words, the whole thing is “a very unwelcome story.”

            And Rustam Batrov, the former deputy chairman of Tatarstan’s Muslim Spiritual Directorate (MSD), says that while laws must be observed “even if they are unjust,” Moscow has given “the green light” to the traditional faiths while “suppressing all the rest.” He called for a combination of obedience to the law and a struggle in the courts against it.

No comments:

Post a Comment