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Russia: Raids On Meetings For Worship Increasing? Written by: F18News

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October 26, 2011

By Felix Corley

Russian police and other security agencies appear to increasingly be raiding religious communities as they meet for worship, Forum 18 News Service notes. In September, four Jehovah’s Witness communities in the Chuvash Republic, on the Volga, and one Muslim community in Belgorod Region, on Russia’s border with Ukraine, were raided as they met for worship. In Belgorod, several hundred Muslims were in the middle of Friday prayers when police – some with weapons and wearing masks – broke up the service, claiming to be looking for illegal immigrants. Of more than 350 men present, more than 150 were taken to police stations. Only six were found to be in Russia without a legal basis, according to the police report.

Police have often raided and searched places of worship – particularly of Jehovah’s Witnesses – but not when services and meetings are underway. Raids on religious communities as they meet for worship are rarer, though these have increased in recent years. In February 2010 armed police with dogs raided a Lutheran Sunday morning service in their church in Kaluga. The Lutheran pastor preaching at that service, drawing on the experience of being raided, later wrote an article with advice on “How to behave during raids”. In April 2010 police and an Federal Security Service FSB officer raided the Sunday morning service of a Baptist church in a private home in Elektrostal near Moscow.

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