Treatment of Baptists (1993-September 2000) [UKR35293.E]

According to the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for 2000,

Such faiths as Baptists, evangelical Christians, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), ... have experienced rapid growth since the country's independence and currently ... constitute approximately 2 percent of the population (5 Sept. 2000).

In a 19 July 2000 report by the Providence Journal, Denton Lotz, general secretary of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), "representing a community of 100 million Baptists in 163,000 Baptist churches scattered among 200 countries" was cited as saying that the number of Baptist churches in Ukraine had doubled "from 1,000 to 2,000 in just 10 years time." In a report published in 2000, the BWA provides information on two Ukrainian Baptist federations, the Brotherhood of Christians-Baptists of the Ukraine and the Union of Evangelical Christian Baptists of the Ukraine. According to the report, the Brotherhood of Christians-Baptists represents 98 churches with a total of 9,950 members, while the Union of Evangelical Christian Baptists represents 2,453 churches with a total of 125,457 members (ibid.). In October 1997, a Florida-based Baptist missionary conducted services in Kiev which were broadcast on "the Ukraine National Television Network to an audience estimated at 52 million in Ukraine and five regions in Russia" (BWA News Dec. 1997).

Information on the treatment of Baptists is scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. However, the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for 2000 states that although the government "generally" respects individuals' right to practice the religion of their choice, some religious groups "experienced delays" in the processing of their state registration applications or reported difficulties in obtaining visas for foreign religious workers (5 Sept. 2000). However, the report adds that the Baptist church is "now able to obtain visas for all [its] religious workers," and that it "no longer encountered any restrictions on baptizing persons in the Dnipro" (ibid.). The report further states that

There are some indications of popular suspicion of "nonnative" religions and foreign missionaries. There have been occasional statements by Ukrainian Orthodox Church officials (both Moscow and Kiev Patriarchates) denouncing the spread of such religions and sharply criticizing their missionary activities. Popular suspicion has not led to significant public criticism or actions against such religions, which continue to find many converts. However, missionaries reported some instances of societal discrimination against members of their churches, such as salary cuts, layoffs, and public criticism for betraying "native religions" (ibid.).

According to The Ukrainian Weekly, published in the United States by the Ukrainian National Association, three Baptist preachers were arrested on 4 May 1999 in the eastern Ukrainian town of Kehychivka and imprisoned for ten days, "presumably under the Ukrainian Administrative Code, although it remains unclear on what charge" (16 May 1999). The report further stated that

These arrests are the first that the Baptists have suffered in Ukraine since the end of the persecution of congregations belonging to the unregistered Council of Churches during the tenure of Mikhail Gorbachev. Baptists in Ukraine are reported to be concerned that this might be a response to the start of the evangelistic campaign, which begins in tent missions in the spring as warmer weather arrives. "Over all, there have been no problems in the area," Russian Evangelistic Ministries told Keston. "What troubles evangelists is that this was done at the beginning of the evangelistic season" (ibid.).

No other reports of arrests of Baptist preachers or church members could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for 2000. 5 September 2000. [Accessed 13 Sept. 2000]

Baptist World Alliance (BWA). 2000. "1999 Statistics." [Accessed 13 Sept. 2000]

BWA News. December 1997. "Kiev Crusade." [Accessed 13 Sept. 2000]

Providence Journal. 19 July 2000. Richard C. Dujardin. "Baptist Leader Lotz is a Man of the World." (NEXIS)

The Ukrainian Times [Parsippany, New Jersey]. 16 May 1999. "Baptists Detained as Evangelistic Meetings Begin." [Accessed 13 Sept. 2000]

Additional Sources Consulted

Country Reports 1994-1999.

World News Connection (WNC)

Internet sites including:

Amnesty International.

BBC. 1998-2000.

The Economist [London]. 1997-2000.

Human Rights Without Frontiers.

International Coalition for Religious Freedom.

International Federation of Human Rights Leagues.

International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights.

International League for Human Rights.

Kyiv Post. Search Engine. 1997-2000.

Russia Religion News [DeLand, Florida]. 1999-2000.