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The new Iron Curtain: religious oppression and identity control in occupied Ukraine

In the regions of Ukraine under Russian control, there has been a disturbing trend of oppression targeted at Christian communities that do not align with the Russian Orthodox Church, favored by President Vladimir Putin. The Russian forces are reportedly closing churches that diverge from their preferred religious perspective, subjecting congregations to intense persecution. Many faithful individuals have found themselves compelled to escape or covertly practice their beliefs to escape severe repercussions.

Particularly alarming is the focused aggression toward evangelical Christian congregations. These groups have been unjustly branded as “foreign agents,” resulting in the arrest, harsh treatment, and sometimes even the killing of their leaders. It is estimated that over 200 evangelical churches have suffered destruction or have been confiscated by Russian forces.

This curtailing of religious freedoms is portrayed by Russian officials as a strategic effort to consolidate power and ensure that religious observance adheres to state-sanctioned norms. This aggressive stance against non-conforming Christian communities not only infringes on religious freedoms but also seeks to reshape the cultural and religious identity within these territories. The current circumstances echo the severe religious persecutions during the Soviet era, reflecting a recurring pattern of harsh measures against religious entities that resist state domination.


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