Protestant church members in eastern Ukraine face a fine or arrest if they meet together, even in their own homes, warn human rights campaigners. New laws introduced in the rebel-held Luhansk region affectively outlaw Protestant Christianity, the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group warns. The organisation alleges that officials in the territory, which has been controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014, have imposed a re-registration process for churches. Ukraine’s Institute for Religious Freedom reports that evangelical Christian communities have been barred from re-registration, meaning they are breaking the law if they do not cease to operate.
Ellel Ministries staff member, Richard Jones (whose real name has been protected for security reasons), said the legislation forms part of a pro-Russian agenda endorsed by Moscow. Mr Jones said: “Russia is encouraging this kind of thing to happen, to make sure that there is a completely pro-Russian area surrounding the Russian Federation.” Human rights advocates claim all non-Russian Orthodox churches are facing persecution in Luhansk and neighbouring Donetsk, which is also in the hands of separatists. Mr Jones added: “We pray for our fellow believers there because they are going through a very strongly oppressed time, just as believers in China are.
Source: Premier News Service