Foreign Church volunteers in Russia evacuated

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Police close an entrance to Red Square to interfere with an action against Russia’s attack on Ukraine in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Feb. 28, 2022. Protests against the Russian invasion of Ukraine resumed on Monday, with people taking to the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg and some other Russian towns despite mass arrests. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not have any foreign full-time volunteers in Russia at this time, Church spokesman Sam Penrod confirmed to The Daily Universe Monday. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not have any foreign full-time volunteers in Russia at this time, Church spokesman Sam Penrod confirmed to The Daily Universe Monday.

“I can confirm that as of mid-February, approximately 50 young volunteers have taken assignments outside of Russia, given the recent recommendation of many foreign governments advising against travel to Russia,” Penrod said.

“Local church meetings and services remain under the direction of local members, who serve as lay leaders in their congregations. The message of peace, love and hope in our Savior Jesus Christ continues to be lived and practiced in strict observance of all legal regulations,” Penrod said.

Church missionaries in Russia have been referred to as “volunteers” since 2016 to comply with the country’s Yarovaya law which bans people from preaching, proselyting or handing out religious materials outside of designated places.

The Church temporarily reassigned full-time missionaries in the Ukraine Dnipro and Ukraine Kyiv/Moldova missions to locations outside the country in late January.

“We are heartbroken and deeply concerned by the armed conflict now raging,” a Feb. 25 statement from the Church says. “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has members in each of the affected areas and throughout the world. Our minds and hearts have been turned toward them and all our brothers and sisters.”

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