Leaders of the unrecognized Luhansk People's Republic in eastern Ukraine have continued a campaign against unregistered church communities. The pro-Russian leaders of this breakaway region insist on registration for all religious organizations. However, of the 195 organizations registered in 2019, 188 were Russian Orthodox. The remaining seven are either Muslim, Old Believer, Jewish or Catholic. No Protestant churches have been allowed to register.
The ban on worship has taken various forms. Congregations meeting in church buildings have had their utilities disconnected, for officials argue that gas, electricity and water cannot be supplied to organizations that do not officially exist. While those meeting in homes have not faced this threat, all unregistered churches are at risk of police intervention.
Security forces raided a community during their worship service on January 19th. Church leaders were taken for interrogation but released several hours later. On December 23rd, another raid resulted in a fine for the church leader. Similar restrictions apply in the neighbouring Donetsk People's Republic, resulting in arrests, property seizures and fines. As in Luhansk, registration is required, but has been denied to any groups not affiliated with the Russian Orthodox church.
Please remember these persecuted believers in your prayers as they face oppression for their faith in Christ. May God give them the strength to persevere, the grace to forgive their oppressors, and the empowerment to glorify Him through their Christian witness. In the midst of the volatile political unrest, pray that the leaders of the Luhansk and Donetsk republics will govern with diplomacy, bringing resolution to this conflict with peace and justice.