Since 2014, the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine has been under the control of rebels. This self-declared government has imposed oppressive religious restrictions. Last year, an order was made that no religious groups may hold services of any kind without registration. Subsequent to the deadline of October 2018, no Protestant church of any kind was granted registration.
Now, a year later, the ban remains in effect and those who do not heed the restrictions are taken to court. There have been at least six court cases in 2019, including that of Pastor Vladimir Rytikov of the Krasnodon Baptist Church. In June, he was sentenced to 20 hours of community service for leading unregistered worship. His appeal was rejected on 21 October. Some of the others have received fines and some have avoided further punishment
Many church buildings now sit empty. While these church communities officially own their buildings, they can no longer legally use them. At least one church has begun using Skype to provide broadcasts for congregants. Members of other churches have been meeting in homes, but they are careful to limit these gatherings to no more than four people at a time.
Along with restrictions on public worship, foreign religious leaders have been banned from visiting the territory. As a result of being denied contact with fellow believers, many Christians are feeling isolated.
Source: Forum 18
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