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Persecution: Russia – American charged

November 2016

An American citizen has had to pay a 40,000 rouble (US$700) fine after a Russian judge ruled he had ‘unlawfully conducted missionary activity’.

In August, a judge in the city of Oryol, Russia, ruled Donald Ossewaarde, a US citizen, had been acting illegally by spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.

A statement available online said Mr Ossewaarde had been arrested in his own home, where policemen came to establish the fact a group was meeting with him for prayer and Bible reading, which they say is illegal.

The arrest came months after the Russian government (Duma) approved legislation known as the Yarovaya Law (see ET, August 2016). The law aim to curb missionary work, donating money to religious organisations and meeting together outside of an approved building.

In court, Mr Ossewaarde was also accused of posting notices in public places, inviting anyone interested in studying the Scriptures to turn him for help.

The court also ruled the American, who, according to Russian law, has all the same rights as a Russian citizen, failed to give the authorities written notification when he began his religious group activities.

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