A demolition crew used the cover of night — and police protection — to demolish a Pentecostal church in Moscow September 6, according to a European news source. Vasili Romanyuk, pastor of the Holy Trinity Pentecostal Church in eastern Moscow, told the Oslo-based Forum 18 News Service that an unidentified crew, backed by local police, arrived at the church around midnight, and by morning had disassembled most of the three-story structure. The congregation had apparently been attempting to work with government authorities to secure the legal authority to keep its building at the location, but had been beaten by a court order.
“In human terms, this is barbarism,” Mikhail Odintsov, a Russian human rights spokesman, said. “This is the Soviet approach, to come in the middle of the night with mechanical diggers. This is unacceptable.”
The evangelical congregation was established in 1979 by Serafim Marin, a pastor who had spent nearly 20 years in Soviet labor camps for his Christian faith. The church “gained registration with the Soviet authorities as an autonomous Pentecostal community in the late 1970s,” reported Forum 18. “However, the city authorities forced it out of its first building in 1995. The replacement 'temporary' church — bulldozed [September 6] — was built on the current site in 1995-6.”
A spokesman for the Moscow city government defended the demolition, insisting that “everything was done at the decision of the court.”
Pastor Romanyuk told Forum 18 that he was awakened around midnight as the demolition crew began its destructive work, but was powerless to stop the action.
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Photo: Holy Trinity Pentecostal Church in eastern Moscow (from a YouTube video).