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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Church Calls Groups Illegal




VLADIVOSTOK, Far East -- The Russian Orthodox Church on Wednesday asked prosecutors in the Far East to investigate the recruiting methods of three religious groups.


The church accused the Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists and a splinter group of Hare Krishnas based in the Far Eastern region of Primorye of recruiting potential converts illegally.


The groups are "aggressive churches that harvest souls in the region by using deception and totalitarian methods," the Orthodox Church said in a press release.


The church didn't say what laws the groups had violated, but it is apparently trying to prosecute them under a controversial religion law passed in 1997. According to the law, Russia's courts may ban religious groups found guilty of inciting hatred or intolerant behavior.


The law also recognizes Russian Orthodox Christianity as the nation's leading faith and requires most other faiths pass a series of qualifying tests to operate in Russia.


The Jehovah's Witnesses are already on trial in Moscow, where prosecutors say they have broken the law. Russian Pentecostalists and Baptists have also been threatened under the law.


The Orthodox Church said the Jehovah's Witnesses in the Far East had broken Russian law by going door-to-door, approaching people on public transportation and compiling lists of all residents in neighborhoods where the group is active.