NOVOROSSIYSK, Russia, March 21, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — A video posted on YouTube shows footage of Russian officials breaking up a meeting held by two Latter-day Saint volunteers who were later detained by authorities.
The video shows elders Kole Brodowski and David Gaag, volunteers in the missionary program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as they apparently hosted a gathering. Brodowski’s father said on Facebook that police investigated after the elders were found to be teaching English to local residents in a meetinghouse.
Brodowski and Gaag were detained for more than two weeks before being returned to the United States this week. A Russian attorney in the case told CBS that the young men violated the terms of their Visas by teaching English, so were deported.
The video was posted by Ruptly, a video news agency based in Berlin, Germany, and belonging to the RT (Russia Today) televised news network.
Proselytizing was banned in Russia in 2016, so those trained in the LDS Missionary program and sent to Russia are instructed to focus on volunteer work.
The video shows Russian officials talking to Brodowski and Gaag, flipping through what appear to be books of LDS scriptures, and examining pamphlets before loading the two young men into the back of an official vehicle with police lights on top.
View the Ruptly video in the player below:
“Two US citizens and adherents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, David Gaag and Kole Brodowski, were detained at a meeting in Novorossiysk, footage released on Thursday shows,” text accompanying the Ruptly video says.
“According to reports, the two were detained on Friday March 1 for violating the rules of entry and staying, as the two were reportedly teaching English without a license. Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Maria Zakharova confirmed that the two US citizens had been detained. The two are reportedly set to be deported from the country.”
An LDS Church spokesman has said both young men are well, adding that Brodowski’s mission is considered completed since he was close to the end of his service. Gaag may be reassigned to finish his missionary service elsewhere after the Church assesses his needs, the statement said.