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On August 14, 2016, a judge of the District Court of the city of Oryol, Russia ruled in a case against Donald Ossewaarde, a United States citizen, who was accused of unlawfully conducting missionary activity. Donald was found guilty and sentenced to pay a fine of 40,000 rubles.

The problem is not the fine, which is about $700, but the fact that the court decided that Donald’s exercise of his right to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ according to his beliefs is an illegal action.

Donald was arrested in his own home, where policemen came to establish the fact that a group was meeting with him for prayer and Bible reading, which they say is illegal. In court, Donald was also accused of posting notices in public places, inviting anyone interested in studying the Scriptures to turn him for help. The Court also ruled that this American, who, according to Russian law, has all the same rights as a Russian citizen, failed to give the authorities written notification when he began his religious group activities.

The court refused to allow time for Donald’s lawyers to come from Moscow for the initial hearing, and then provided a lawyer to him. In a "confidential conversation" after the hearing, this court appointed lawyer advised him to accept the verdict and pay the fine without appeal. Then he said that it would be better for the American to leave the city, because anything might happen to him and his family.

For now, Donald’s family has gone to the USA, but he is prepared to defend his case before the Russian justice system. He is convinced that the law is on his side, and that he is the victim of an improper application of the law, and perhaps xenophobia.

Donald’s attorneys, Vladimir Ryakhovsky and Konstantin Andreev from the law office "Slavic Center for Law and Justice” (http://www.sclj.ru/about/center/) are also confident about the review of Donald’s case. An appeal against the decision of the court has already been filed, and there will be a hearing on the case in the near future.