Protestant leader wants to de-escalate tensions with Kremlin


Eastern Europe


Vitaly Vlasenko. Photo RD, Evert van Vlastuin

The newly appointed secretary-general of the Russian Evangelical Alliance (REA), Vitaly Vlasenko, believes in the de-escalation of conflicts with both the government and other churches. This writes the Russian American journalist William Yoder on his web site.

Vlasenko (born 1969) was appointed as the Evangelicals’ new coordinator in April. He finds it intolerable that authorities are contesting the ownership of church buildings and facilities, as currently happens in the Tula region. Yet Vlasenko doesn’t believe in taking the government or the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) to court, since by doing that the Protestant church usually achieves the opposite. “Courts are expensive and they raise people’s temperatures”, says Vlasenko.

Vlasenko has enough experience in dealing with conflict between Protestants, the Orthodox Church and the state.

The Russian Evangelical Alliance was founded in 2003 and sees itself as a grass-root movement for Christian unity.

Vitaly Vlasenko is a pastor at the “Blagoveshchenie (Annunciation) Baptist Church” just west of Moscow. Its Senior Pastor is Nikolai Epishin; the congregation is a member of the Russian Baptist Union (RUECB).

Vlasenko expressed his hope for better cooperation with the ROC. The Russian Orthodox are expecting Western support in their attempts to expand westward. Vlasenko pointed out that in return one should expect the ROC to aid Protestants in resolving the issues confronting them in Russia. One of the open wounds is the cancellation of the official status for the Jehovah’s Witnesses by the Kremlin.

About the conflict in Ukraine Vlasenko says that he wants the “friendly relations between the peoples of our countries” to be restored, according to Evangelical Focus.



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