This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Six Mormon missionaries, now known in Russia simply as "volunteers," were detained briefly about two weeks ago by authorities in that nation's Samara region due to questions about their visas, the Utah-based LDS Church reported Friday.
They were held for a "few hours," said Eric Hawkins, a spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "Three of the volunteers have been reassigned to another Russian-speaking mission outside of the country because of technicalities related to their visas."
All of this follows on the heels of the recent moniker change from "missionary" to "volunteer," which the LDS Church implemented in response to a Russian anti-terrorism law that restricts religious work to houses of worship and other faith-related sites.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has condemned the law, calling it a "guise" that authorizes "sweeping powers to curtail civil liberties."
The LDS Church counts seven missions, 100 congregations and 22,720 members in Russia.
Peggy Fletcher Stack