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Inside Russia’s new crackdown on religion


ON A RECENT Sunday morning, Donald Ossewaarde, a Baptist preacher from the United States, hosted an informal Bible study group at his home in Oryol, a small city 225 miles south of Moscow. Most of the dozen or so people there had been coming to Ossewaarde’s weekly gatherings for years, and they were looking forward to an hour of Christian song, prayer and discussion.

But as the lesson began, three police officers walked into Ossewaarde’s house. They waited silently until the lesson was over, then started questioning everyone, before insisting that Ossewaarde and his wife, Ruth, accompany them to the local police station. Police told Ossewaarde a woman had filed a complaint against him, saying she was outraged that “foreign religious cultists” were allowed to operate in the city.

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