Russian Federation detains 2 LDS volunteers, church says

Russian Embassy in Washington USA

Russian Embassy in Washington USA

A spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints told 'Two of our volunteers serving in Novorossiyk, Russia were detained by authorities Friday evening while engaged in a meeting at a local meetinghouse. "The guys usually come from the USA, they are native speakers, which attracts people, and then, after a few classes, they start to insert certain religious themes into their texts", Kravchenko is quoted as saying.

One of the fathers of the two men sought prayers in a Facebook post. He said they looked calm, but upset that they were being made to leave their volunteer mission in Russian Federation early.

The government-controlled news outlet added that a representative of the LDS Church, Yuri Kozhokin, said the two detained Latter-day Saints were not teachers but volunteers.

A US State Department also told CNN that two US citizens were being held in Novorossiysk, a port city on the Black Sea. "We talked with the elders, with our son, yesterday, last night". I think he is fine.

They are said to have been charged by officials for teaching English without a license, KSL TV reports. The volunteers said they only were conducting a regularly scheduled game night in English.

Utah's senators, Mike Lee and Mitt Romney, said Thursday they were aware of the dispute but declined to comment.

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Kole Brodowski, an American member of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Garden Grove, California, is seen in an undated Facebook photo.

Religious missionaries were banned in 2016 but the church claims by officially registering workers as "volunteers" they are complying with the law.

However, a few weeks later, in August 2016, local Russian officials detained six American men and women volunteers for the church for a few hours. The church transferred five of the volunteers to a nearby Russian-speaking mission outside the country.

The church has continued to provide volunteers in the country to support its congregations.

Attorney Sergey Gliznutsa said the men would be deported in accordance with a ruling issued on Thursday by a court in Krasnodar, a region about 1,000 miles south of Moscow.

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