Released Ukrainian pastor tells how he was treated by the Russians


Eastern Europe


Dmitry Budyu was kidnapped by the Russians. Photo Intolerance against Christians

Russian soldiers surrounded his house in the southeast of Ukraine. They put a black bag over his head and took him to prison. Ukrainian pastor Dmitry Budyu from the Word of Life Church in Melitopol now reflects on his arrest. “My body is relaxed, but my nerves are still tense.”

His arrest and imprisonment were a period full of uncertainty, pastor Budyu tells in an interview with the Norwegian Christian daily Vart Land. “Suddenly you are separated from the family. You do not know how they are doing and how long you will be gone. You do not know what will happen at all”, he says.

Budyu was arrested on March 19, around 5.30 a.m. His fate remained unknown for about ten days.

Locked up in dirty place

The pastor was locked up in an “old dirty” space “with a terrible smell during these days.” According to Budyu, he had to create a bed with a few jackets and old pillows. The faucet in the cell was not working, so Budyu used the water source connected to the toilet, from which some water dripped. “There was clotted blood on the walls. I wondered what it was all about”, he tells Vart Land.

Dmitry Budyu with his wife Helen. Photo Facebook

To let his family and congregation know that he was still alive, Budyu thought of ways to ensure that the Russians would pass on his message. Therefore, he asked the soldiers if they could retrieve his Bible. “They picked it up at the church and told the people there that I had asked for it.”

Pastor was told that Russians wanted him dead

Even though the Russians provided the pastor with food and water once a day, Budyu did not eat for five days during his imprisonment. Yet, the soldiers remained polite to him and never abused him. That was not true for all prisoners, Budyu tells Vart Land. “Through the walls, I heard that several people had been beaten up quite badly. When you sit and listen to these sounds, you become unsure of what might happen to you.”

After a few days, the Russians retrieved the pastor from his cell for interrogation. Three mask-wearing men then told him that a section of the Russian army had “bought a one-time ticket” for him. After asking what that meant, Budyu learned: “They want you dead.”

The reason for this severe judgment was that the Russian intelligence service suspected Budyu of being a spy. “I got many questions about my church and my private companies, Budyu says during the interview with Vart Land.

Hopes to settle in US

However, the Russian authorities realised that this accusation was wrong. After a few days, Budyu received the message that he would soon be released. The next day, March 26, he was free again.

Shortly after, the pastor and his family decided to flee the country. “I hope my family can settle in the US”, he tells Vart Land. “Then my wife and I will return to Europe to help those who stayed behind and those who have been relocated.”



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