Translation of the Church’s Statement on the Search at the Vladivostok Branch

This is an unofficial translation of the Church’s official statement on the search conducted by the Ministry of Internal Affair’s Anti-Extremism Division (essentially the Vladivostok Police Department).

I am limiting my commentary on this post to preserve the Church’s tone inasmuch as possible. For a brief introduction to the issue, see my previous posts on the Yarovaya Laws and on this incident in particular. More analysis will follow in future posts and as more information becomes available. Please feel free to contact me with information you might have concerning the status of the Church in Russia or your experiences as a member or missionary there.


 

Official Statement of the Church On the Situation in Vladivostok

On the 9th of September, 2016, on the official website of the Office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the Primorsky Krai [1] a message was posted that stated, “in the course of investigative activities on Mordovtseva Street in Vladivostok, in the office of a religious organization of a Christian confession which is not traditional in Russia, officers from the Anti-Extremism Center of the Office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs discovered discs supposedly containing video files of a pornographic character with the participation of minors.”

In connection with this message we find it necessary to clarify that on the 29th of August, 2016, police officers arrived at the address of the Local Religious Organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the City of Vladivostok (hereinafter “the Religious Organization”) [2] and, taking advantage of the legal illiteracy of the members of the Church who were present, without appropriate authority, entered into one of the rooms, the library, after which they announced that they had supposedly discovered a compact disc containing pornographic material.

Inasmuch as the origin of the aforementioned materials is unknown to us, and inasmuch as their contents are in complete opposition to the fundamental doctrines of the Church, as well as to the moral and ethical principles of the Church’s members, there is basis to suppose that the aforementioned actions of the police officers were a deliberate provocation and had the goal of discrediting the activities of the Religious Organization.

Furthermore, we find it essential to reiterate that respect for the laws of every country is an important principle of the Church, as expressed in its Articles of Faith, and that Church members are well-known for their exceptional commitment to obeying the law.

For general information, the Religious Association of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Russia is the central religious organization registered with the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation, operating since 1991. The Religious Association is part of the worldwide Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has 15 million members in 165 countries. The structure of the Religious Association contains more than one hundred religious communities, including religious organizations and religious groups in more than 50 subjects [3] of the Russian Federation. The local Religious Organization in the City of Vladivostok is part of the structure of the Religious Association.

At the current time, several procedural decisions concerning the matter have not yet been made. The Church is taking every essential measure to establish the circumstances of the occurrence.


[1] Essentially, the Vladivostok Police Department.

[2] This is the official legal name of the Church as registered in Vladivostok. Russian law requires that religious organizations be registered not in a country-wide manner but in each city and region in which they operate, necessitating long legal designations such as this one.

[3] The Russian Federation has a very complex federal structure with a variety of legal entities with varying degrees of independence from the federal government. You could think of “subjects of the Russian Federation” as varying types of “states.” The point here is that the Church is legally organized in a large portion of the Russian Federation.

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