New Deportations of Mormon Missionaries from Russia

Well, I suppose it was going to happen sooner or later, but six missionaries are being deported out of Russia for violating migration laws. (Not, incidentally, for preaching where they weren’t supposed to or anything like that.) Interfax is reporting,[1] and here’s a little commentary from the Slavic Center for Law and Justice. Such a deportation could have happened at any point, and sometimes has, over the last 25 years of missionary work in Russia, but in the context of the Yarovaya laws, this one stands out.

It’s hard for me to say at this stage, with the limited information available, just how exactly the missionaries were in violation of the migration laws. The charge is that they were not on the federal immigration register, but it isn’t clear to me how that happened. There could have been an error at the border, or more likely, a failure to timely and correctly register when the missionaries got to Samara.

Either way, forgive me for being skeptical if immigration is the real issue, rather than a dislike of foreigners living in Samara. In the current environment, it’s important to keep an eye on how the laws are enforced as much as the legal justifications. To that end, here’s an interesting point in the brief Interfax article:

По словам источника агентства, в последние годы в разы выросло число граждан США, прибывающих в Самарскую область в рамках миссионерской деятельности: за январь-август 2016 года в регион приехало 204 американских миссионера, в то время как за весь 2013 год их было всего 46.

According to one [Interfax] source, in recent years the number of US citizens arriving in the Samara province as missionaries has grown several times: from January to August of 2016, 204 American missionaries arrived, but in the whole of 2013 there were only 46.

I expect more information as reporting develops.

P.S. — Any additional reporting (or, frankly, first-hand knowledge) would be appreciated. Include in the comments or email me through the contact page. Thanks!

[1] Thanks, by the way, Interfax for consistently describing the missionaries as “adepts,” a word which carries as much cultist connotations in Russian as it does in English.



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