One out of three destroyed or looted buildings tallied by Institute for Religious Freedom belong to evangelicals, accused of being “American spies.”
The Russian military has disproportionately attacked evangelical Christians and “destroyed, damaged, or looted” at least 494 religious buildings, theological institutions, and sacred sites in Ukraine since invading the neighboring nation almost a year ago, according to the Kyiv-based Institute for Religious Freedom (IRF).
The IRF aims to catalog evidence of Russian war crimes against Ukrainian religious communities. The destruction of religious sites is often intentional and happening in tandem with attacks on civilian believers and pastors, said executive director Maksym Vasin.
Russian soldiers have repeatedly threatened to destroy evangelical Christians in Ukraine, calling them “American spies,” “sectarians,” and “enemies of the Russian Orthodox people,” said Valentyn Siniy, rector of the Kherson-based Tavriski Christian Institute—one of scores of damaged sites belonging to evangelical groups.
Russian forces seized the seminary’s building as a headquarters, looted it, and then left it destroyed, he said.
“One Russian officer told an employee of our institute that ‘evangelical believers like you should be completely destroyed … a simple shooting will be too easy for you. You need to be buried alive,’” said Siniy, according to the IRF report. In a translated video played during the panel, he elaborated, “During a telephone conversation, one of our employees was told, ‘We will bury [Baptist] sectarians like you.’”
The IRF report found that “the scale of destruction of …