This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Saturday that two of its missions in Russia will merge.
The combination of the southeastern Vladivostok Mission and the southern Novosibirsk Mission will be effective July 1, according to a news release.
The merger will bring the number of missions in Russia from seven to six.
Those missionaries who had planned to return home in July will instead go home in late May, the release stated, and any who would have returned home in August will be reassigned and complete their service in the United States.
The LDS Church had already taken steps to limit its proselytizing in Russia after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a measure that regulates religious work. In response to the law signed in July, the Utah-based faith released a statement that said missionaries will "honor, sustain and obey the law" and "work within the requirements of these changes."
The anti-terrorism law which increases phone and social media surveillance while seeking penalties for online extremism allowed fines of up to $15,000 and possible deportation for conducting religious missionary work in private residences.
The LDS Church began referring to its missionaries serving in Russia as "volunteers" when the law was enacted. Mormon missionaries in Turkey and Belarus also go by the same "volunteer" moniker.