ENGLISH VERSION: Official press release of the Commonwealth of Evangelical Christians of Russia regarding the Criminal Case against Rev. Alexander T. Semchenko
We, the leaders of the Commonwealth of Evangelical Christians of Russia which unites about 700 congregations, wish to express our deep concern about the criminal prosecution of a well known leader of the Protestant movement of Russia Rev. Alexander Trofimovich Semchenko.
Our concern is caused, first of all, by the fact that this criminal case was initiated one year after Alexander T. Semchenko had left all commercial enterprise but intensified his religious activities.
All events under investigation in the case date from 2006-2007. It is not clear why the prosecution only now became interested in the facts that happened more than seven years ago.
All of this raises a reasonable doubt whether the main motive of the investigators is the discovering the truth rather than attempting to achieve some other purpose by any means.
We have reasons to believe that this prosecution is nothing but an attempt of certain bodies to ruin, in the eyes of the general public, reputation not only of Rev. Semchenko but of all Protestant churches of Russia.
The persecution of religious leaders on economic grounds is nothing new to us Russian Protestants. Such was often the practice of the authorities in the USSR. At that time, when the church was under severe persecution, believers were often charges with political or economic crimes, the real reason for prosecuting them being their active religious life. Alexander Semchenko is one of the key figures for the Russian Protestantism. He is well known throughout the Evangelical community of Russia, for in addition to his pastoral and the administrative labor in our Evangelical union, he has devoted many years to building unity among all Christian bodies in our country. Alexander Semchenko did not spare efforts for establishing friendship between the churches and associations of all protestant faiths and denominations of Russia, for strengthening ties between them, for building mutually rewarding cooperation.
This is the policy that he has constantly maintained, as a member of the Advisory Council of Heads of Protestant Churches of Russia, or at regular personal meetings with the leaders of the various Protestant unions.
As a well-known public figure, Rev. Semchenko has continuously made efforts for boosting meaningful, mutually beneficial dialog between local/federal authorities and Christians of all Protestant denominations.
Thanks to his efforts, many officials have changed their views and attitudes toward the Russian Protestants.
He has used his membership in the high representational bodies to protect Protestant organizations that experienced harassment from some local officials. Recent examples of such activities are: his participation in the events related to the destruction of the Holy Trinity Church (Moscow) and overcoming the obstacles for building the Faith Acting in Love church (city of Izhevsk).
Working as a member of the Council on Interaction with Religious Organizations in the Office of the President of Russia, Alexander Semchenko has consistently strived for the establishing and strengthening friendly relationships among all religious bodies. His effort was always aimed at overcoming hostility and misunderstanding between the citizens of Russia who belong to different religious traditions.
As a religious and public person Alexander Semchenko is well known not only in our country, but also far abroad. Midwest University (St. Louis, Missouri) has awarded him with an honorary doctorate degree in theology for his work on development of the relationship between the largest churches of the Christian world. He also is a recipient of many other awards.
We would like to conclude by stating that, as of today, we have a great respect for all authorities of our country, and therefore express our hope that, in the case of Rev. Semchenko an impartial investigation will be conducted, and its conclusion will not deviate from the truth, will be fully consistent with laws of Russia and the laws of God.
We also call upon entire Christian community to pray that God would show His perfect will in this sad matter.
The Coordinating Council of the Commonwealth of Evangelical Christians of Russia
June 14, 2013