House of the Gospel Baptist Church, Donetsk, now closed
Radio Donbas.Realities (RFE/RL)

Rebel authorities in Ukraine ban three Protestant churches

DONETSK, Ukraine — The rebel-held entity Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine has liquidated three Protestant churches, according to rights group Forum 18.

The Arbitration Court in Donetsk banned Good News Baptist Church and Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ on June 17. Eight days later, the court banned activity at Church of the Awakening in the town of Yenakievo, reports Forum 18. The latter continues to meet while resubmitting its registration application.

Pro-Russian rebels seized parts of the Donetsk Region of Ukraine in 2014 and now control half of it. Donetsk People’s Republic is unrecognized internationally, states Forum 18.

DPR’s religion law severely restricts religious freedom. DPR authorities raid religious meetings and impose fines, states the report.

DPR authorities ban churches for not having the requested registration or for being deemed by the court as “extremist,” Forum 18 explains. Officials have seized numerous places of worship from Baptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Seventh-day Adventists and Muslims, in addition to Donetsk Christian University.

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