Russia is considering amendments to what has been referred to as its “anti-missionary law“, which came into effect last summer and has since seen over 30 people charged with “offences”, including holding groups to study the Bible in homes or handing out New Testaments on a train.
A Working Group formed by the Russian legislative assembly (the Duma) met on 19 January to discuss possible amendments, following President Vladimir Putin’s admission in September that the law may need to be “adjusted to not put people in a difficult position”. However, the Group said it would not make any immediate changes.
One of those convicted and fined for an “offence” – US missionary Don Ossewaarde – has taken his appeal to the Supreme Court.
“This makes Ossewaarde’s case the first under the ‘anti-missionary’ amendment to reach this level in the Russian courts, and the first to issue a challenge to the legislation itself,” reported regional news agency Forum 18. “The Constitutional Court, if it accepts the appeal, will examine whether the amendment contravenes the provisions of the Russian Constitution.”
The decision is likely to take a couple of months, Forum 18 said.