Russian authorities halted the operation of two top Christian seminaries in recent months, limiting the availability of church leaders and prompting concern the crackdown will spread.
The Russian governmental agency that oversees educational institutions, Rosobrnadzor, treated the schools as if they were seeking state accreditation, which they were not doing, Forum 18 News Service reported. The Pentecostal Union’s Eurasian Theological Seminary is applying for a new license after the government revoked it in November 2018. Sergey Rakhuba, president of U.S.-based Mission Eurasia, said he doesn’t expect the agency to grant the license.
In January, Rosobrnadzor suspended activities and admissions to the Baptist Union’s Moscow Theological Seminary, including its satellite campuses and online programs. After losing one appeal, the Baptist Union is taking its case to another court this month.
“I believe these actions have a systemic, intentional character under the pretext of supervision of educational activities,” Pentecostal Union lawyer Vladimir Ozolin told Forum 18. “In this way, pressure is being exerted on the nontraditional confessions; this is perhaps another act of intimidation.”
Rakhuba agreed and said the Russian government wants to “weaken non-Orthodox denominations.” He expects Russia will close more Christian schools unless the international community applies pressure to stop it. —Julia A. Seymour