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Volunteers for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints detained in Russia

NOVOROSSIYSK, Russia — Two volunteers serving in Russia for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were detained Friday night in the Russian city of Novorossiysk during a meeting being held in one of their meetinghouses. Novorossiysk is a city on the black sea which is about 930 miles south of Moscow.

The father of one of the volunteers spoke to KSL 5 News Specialist Ashley Moser, saying the two young men are ok, but he questions why they are being detained.

“They followed the rules, they did exactly what was asked of them, they were still put in jail.  It’s tough on us, says the family member.

The father says he believes the volunteers may have been teaching English without a license.  The volunteers say it was merely a regularly scheduled game night in English.

The president of the church’s Russia Rostov-na-Donu Mission, where the young volunteers are serving, visited the detention facility that houses the two men and continues to meet with them every day.  They were allowed cell phone access to call home.

Russia implemented anti-terrorism laws in July of 2016 that included a portion that banned public missionary work. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints immediately complied and redesignated its missionaries as volunteers ensuring that they followed the new law and ensured that all proselytizing to take place inside houses of worship.