MOSCOW, Russia (F18) — Unknown workers — backed by police and druzhinniki (civil volunteers) — began tearing down Holy Trinity Pentecostal Church on the eastern edge of Moscow, Russia, soon after midnight Sept. 6, the church’s pastor, Vasili Romanyuk, told Forum 18 News Service from the Russian capital. By morning of Sept. 7, almost the entire three-story building had been destroyed.
“This is the Soviet approach — to come in the middle of the night with mechanical diggers,” Mikhail Odintsov, an aide to Russia’s Ombudsperson for Human Rights, told Forum 18. “This is unacceptable.” The church has struggled to legalize the building it put up with its own money in 1995 to 1996.
Andrei Ivanov, spokesperson for the prefect of Moscow’s Eastern Administrative District, defended the destruction. “Everything was done at the decision of the court,” he told Forum 18.