By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
RUSSIA (ANS) -- A St. Petersburg Pentecostal church has been liquidated this month for alleged illegal educational activity.
According to a story by Victoria Arnold for Forum 18 News Service, Harvest Church lawyer Sergei Chugunov of the Slavic Center for Law and Justice stated that the St. Petersburg Prosecutor "could simply have demanded an end to the activities they deemed illegal, and taken action in the event of disobedience."
However, he told Forum 18, "It was decided to resort immediately to the most extreme measure - liquidation. We pointed out this disparity in court, but the court decided otherwise."
"Liquidation means the complete cessation of the church's legal capacity as a juridical entity," Chugunov of the Slavic Center for Law and Justice explained to Forum 18. "The church as a religious organization will cease to exist."
The church continues to meet for worship and intends to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
According to Forum 18, Protestant-run drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers in Rostov and Chelyabinsk regions of Russia are also being targeted by the authorities.
For example, in the first Rostov case, Forum 18 said the Neklinovsky District Prosecutor took Exodus Pentecostal Church in Taganrog to court in 2013 over alleged violations of fire and sanitation regulations in a rehabilitation center run by the church.
The prosecutor wanted the rehab work to stop. On Nov. 21, prosecutors withdrew their suit after learning that the church had ended its rehabilitation work voluntarily after being charged
Forum 18 said the three Rostov cases and single Chelyabinsk case have so far followed the same pattern - claims of illegal detention of addicts, an inspection by law enforcement agents, and the removal of residents.
For more information visit www.forum18.org