The two belong to the New Generation church, also absurdly denounced for conspiring with the Red Cross to transport explosives hidden in ambulances.
by Massimo Introvigne
The persecution of Russian Evangelical pastors connected with the Latvian megachurch New Generation continues in Russia. As Bitter Winter reported, in 2021 New Generation was declared “undesirable” in Russia. On August 15, 2022, New Generation churches in Chelyabinsk, Moscow, Kemerovo, Novosibirsk, Krasnodar, and Sochi were raided by special forces after having being falsely accused by Russian anti-cultists Alexander Dvorkin and Alexander Novopashin, at that time affiliated with the French-supported European federation of anti-cult movements FECRIS, of working as agents of the Ukrainian intelligence services. Its pastors were incriminated under Article 284.1 of the Russian Criminal Code.
Article 284.1 as amended in 2022 after the aggression war against Ukraine deals with organizations that have not been labeled as “extremist” but as “undesirable.” Organizing, participating in, and even promoting or simply displaying symbols of undesirable organizations on social media are now crimes punished with jail or labor camp penalties.
In April this year, Bitter Winter reported that Pastor Nikolai Bogoslavsky, the leader of an Evangelical church in Anapa called Christ the Savior, had been sentenced to spend one year in a corrective labor colony under Article 284.1. Although independent, Bogoslavsky’s church followed with sympathy the Word of Faith movement (which teaches that those who pray with faith will acquire health and prosperity), of which New Generation is part.
On May 31, a press release of the Office of the General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation informed that Pastors Nikolai Ulitin and Svyatoslav Yugov had been incriminated under Article 284.1. They are accused of having organized a conference and promoted the activities of New Generation in the Moscow region.
According to an article published on the same day by the government-owned news agency RIA Novosti, the accusations against Ulitin and Yugov may be even more serious and go beyond the promotion of an “undesirable” organization. The news agency revealed that “a former member of the cult, detained by the security forces, Nikolai Kum, stated that New Generation was raising money among its devotees to support the Ukrainian military, and was also transporting explosives to them in ambulances with the help of the Red Cross.”
The accusation, including the allegation that the Red Cross would help “cultists” to transport explosives to Ukraine in its ambulances, is ridiculous, and those detained and possibly tortured by the Russian security forces would end up confessing everything the authorities want them to admit.
RIA Novosti also explained that, according to the Office of the General Prosecutor, “the recognition of the activities of a foreign or international non-governmental organization as undesirable in Russia entails, among other things, a ban on the creation of organizations affiliated with it on the territory of the country, as well as the termination of the activities of those previously created. Administrative and criminal liability will apply in case the activities will continue.”