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REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko/File Photo
Russian solider ukraine war.JPG
REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko/File Photo
World News

Russian forces torture and kill pastor and son in Ukraine, as warnings of Christian persecution persist

by Tola Mbakwe

A Christian persecution watchdog has warned that the way some Christians are being treated in Russian occupied areas in Ukraine is reminiscent of religious persecution that took place within the Soviet Union. 

Concerns have been raised after the bodies of a 52-year-old Ukrainian Evangelical church leader Anatoliy Prokopchuk and his 19-year-old son, Oleksandr, were found in a forest. 
 
According to the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group and the Global Investigative Journalism Network, the father and son were abducted by Russian soldiers on 22nd November while they were working in their garage, close to Kherson. 

It's been reported they were tortured and killed, four days after being abducted.

The reasons for their abduction are not known. However, according to Pavel, a Ukrainian partner organisation of UK religious freedom charity Release International, when the Russian troops arrested the father and son, the soldiers claimed: "Your church has no right to exist, as it has connections with America and other western countries."

Pavel added: "Their bodies had signs of prolonged and excruciating torture. They were so mutilated that it was difficult to identify them."

The horrific incident comes after Russian occupying forces shut down the three largest evangelical Protestant churches in Melitopol in September and October. It also closed churches in Mariupol.

In another raid, pro-Russian soldiers reportedly claimed that only the Orthodox faith would be tolerated.

Andrew Boyd from Release International told Premier Christian News there's much more to the war than makes the headlines. 

"In some ways, what's been going on in Ukraine has been deliberately and probably very cynically framed by Vladimir Putin as a holy war," he said. 

"An extraordinary justification for what is going on there. But we're seeing that there are some Russian troops who are buying into that notion, and who are closing down churches and doing this kind of appalling abuse."

Boyd claimed that the way non-Orthodox Christians are being treated is reflecting what happened to them before the collapse of the Soviet Union. 

"We need to be looking at Russia because there's pro-Russian forces who are doing this and this is very redolent of what took place within the Soviet Union". 

He added: "In Ukraine, in areas occupied by Russian forces, we see the same kind of paranoia and brutality that's being expressed towards Christians in those occupied areas, as was within the Soviet Union. So there is a sense of Deja vu about all of this". 

Boyd urged people to pray that God will strengthen the faith of Ukrainian Christians who are facing immense difficulties during the invasion. 

"Let's take the heaviness that we feel and let's turn it into prayer for the people of Ukraine that they will know God, they'll know the Lord's protection, that they'll keep their hearts soft, " he said. 

"Let's turn that prayer into prayer for the Russian soldiers who are doing this kind of thing. There's a whole raft of stories out there at the moment of atrocities being committed by Russian soldiers. These people need help too. Let's keep our hearts softened in all of this."

Listen to Premier's interview with Andrew Boyd here: 


 

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