Russian politician prosecuted for religious opposition to war


Eastern Europe


A Russian soldier walks by a church as he patrols in a street of Volnovakhaa. Photo AFP, Alexander Nemenov

The Russian authorities have launched a preliminary judicial investigation against Russian politician Nina Belyayeva from Voronezh, because she condemned the war in Ukraine on religious grounds.

That reports news service Forum18. The Protestant Belyayeva, a Communist Party municipal deputy, called the Russian invasion a war crime at a meeting of the Semiluk district council. During the meeting, Belyayeva raised her voice over the shouting of her fellow deputies: “A Christian is not someone who wears a cross, but someone who follows Christ, for whom the word of God – the authority of Christ – is much higher than the authority of the President. For a Christian, first of all, the authority of Christ is higher than the opinion of the Patriarch, and if a person obscures Christ with somebody else, then they cannot be a Christian. Yes, that is my position.”

Nia Belyayeva. beeld TMT

This was reported by Forum18, a Scandinavian initiative that promotes freedom worldwide.

Twenty out of 23 deputies then voted to request prosecutors to investigate Belyayeva. She was also removed from the council’s ethics committee and later expelled from the Communist Party faction on the council.


In an interview with The Moscow Times says that she had not planned her comments. “I did not even know I’d be discussed at the council. The question was raised because I had previously published anti-war posts on social media, and someone sent in a complaint about me.”

According to Belyayeva, a pro-government deputy thought her posts were inconsistent with parliamentary ethics. “In the two and half minutes that he was reading his question, I thought about what I was going to do”, Belyayeva says. “Should I state my position or refuse to comment?” She chose to do the first: “I decided that it would be a shame not to use the opportunity to say loud and clear why I am against the war, why I think it is a crime, and call for peace and for the withdrawal of the troops.”


By the time the case was opened, Belyayeva had already fled Russia. The Investigative Committee noted that it was considering placing her on a wanted list. She later wrote: “I realised that if I kept silent, I wouldn’t be able to respect myself. I would not be a true Christian and not a sincere man.”

Belyayeva risks a large fine or up to three years in prison. It is not the first time Russian Christians have been prosecuted for opposing the war. As CNE reported, earlier, two priests were under investigation as well since they made critical remarks on the Russian invasion.


According to Forum18, Belyayeva does not regret her actions. “It’s true that when I left Russia, my everyday life became less comfortable. But personal comfort can’t be more valuable than the life of another human being. What can be more precious than the lives and health of people who are now dying in Ukraine, the women and children being raped by Russian soldiers?”

Belyayeva noted on Telegram that she had received 15-20 times more supportive messages than condemnatory ones. She technically remains a deputy on Semiluk District Council but says that she will relinquish her mandate if the situation in Russia does not improve within a few weeks, as it is difficult to carry out duties from abroad.



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