RUSSIA, March 7, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — A spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has confirmed that the two volunteers from the Church’s missionary program, detained in Russia since late last week, are being deported.
“At this time, they remain in custody while their deportation is being processed,” Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a statement provided to Gephardt Daily.
CBS News reportedly spoke to the lawyer, Sergey Gliznutsa, on Thursday. Gliznutsa told the news agency the men would be deported in accordance with a ruling Thursday by a court in Krasnodar, a region about 1,000 miles south of Moscow, the CBS report says.
Processing the deportation documents should be complete between Wednesday and Friday of next week, the CBS report says.
One of the missionaries has been identified on social media by his father as Kole Brodowski, from Southern California, in a post that has since been removed. Brodowski’s companion has not been identified.
Russia banned missionary work in 2016, so those who serve there are called volunteers rather than missionaries, and they focus on community service rather than proselytizing, the Church has said.
According to the post by Brodowski’s father, Kole and his companion were conducting an English lesson last week when they were picked up by authorities.
A statement attributed to the men’s attorney said that teaching English violated the terms of their Visas.
At last report, the men were being held in Novorossiysk, a Russian city on the Black Sea, according to information released by the Church on Tuesday.
A statement released Tuesday by Hawkins said the two volunteers were detained by authorities Friday evening as they participated in a meeting at a local meetinghouse.
Hawkins’ latest statement added some new details:
“Many people have reached out regarding the status of our two volunteers in Russia. 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.
“We continue to work with local authorities in Russia and we remain hopeful these volunteers will be allowed to leave the country soon. In the meantime, we are grateful for the many offers of assistance and support expressed on their behalf.”