Two Latter-day Saint volunteers detained by Russian police are being deported, according to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The church released a statement March 7 discussing the status and wellbeing of the volunteers.
“At this time, they remain in custody while their deportation is being processed. The young men are in good spirits, are being treated well, and are in regular contact with their mission president and their families,” said church spokesman Eric Hawkins. “We continue to work with local authorities in Russia and we remain hopeful these volunteers will be allowed to leave the country soon.”
Police arrested the two volunteers last Friday, March 1, at a church meetinghouse in Novorossiysk, according to the church. Russian authorities accused the pair of teaching English without a license and violating terms of their visas.
Russia implemented an anti-terrorism law in July 2016 that included a ban of public missionary work. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints complied immediately and designated its missionaries as volunteers.
President Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. expressed concern on Twitter about the detention.
Terrible, I know many great Mormon families with children who are missionaries or who have done missions. That they would be held for doing this and their numerous other charitable deeds is sickening!— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) March 6, 2019
Russian police detain two Latter-day Saint volunteers https://t.co/IUogpWWfLh
Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, also took his concern about the detention to Twitter.
I’m extremely troubled by reports of volunteers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints being detained in Russia. I’m in communication w/those connected to the situation & stand ready to be helpful however possible as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. https://t.co/oPkDuVcMTX— Rep. John Curtis (@RepJohnCurtis) March 6, 2019