Pastor SVYATOSLAV YUGOV, New Generation Church (Chelyabinsk, Russia)

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Pastor Svyatoslav Yugov

Pastor of the Evangelical New Life church in Chelyabinsk. According to the Unified State Register of Legal Entities, Yugov is also the founder of two commercial organizations, one charity, as well as the Central Religious Organization of Evangelical Christians Pentecostals (the New Generation Association) and its branch in Kopeysk, Chelyabinsk oblast.

The persecution was provoked by a pastoral conference in Ramenskoye, near Moscow, in which, apart from clergy from Russia, a pastor from the Ukrainian New Generation church participated. Earlier, being accused of supporting the Ukrainian Azov regiment, the New Generation church was named “undesirable” on the territory of the Russian Federation.

Security forces arrived at the event attended by about 150 people. The believers were forced to lie face down on the floor. Later, administrative protocols were drawn up against them based on participation in the activities of an “undesirable” organisation. Among others, as participants in this conference, Yugov and Ulitin were fined.

In 2018, Yugov was accused of meeting abroad with New Generation pastors from Ukraine who were looking for paramedics to work in the conflict zone in Donbas.

On 14 August 2022, police searched various branches of the New Generation church. The Russian media published a photograph of Yugov’s Schengen visa.

On 20 April 2023, the Basmanny Court of Moscow arrested Yugov under Part 3 of Art. 284.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Organising the activities of a foreign or international non-governmental organization, the activities of which have been recognized as undesirable on the territory of the Russian Federation in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation). In 2021, the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation recognized the association of the New Generation churches as undesirable in Russia.

On 18 July 2023, a court in Moscow oblast, sentenced Yugov, as well as Nikolai Ulitin, a bishop of the New Generation churches, to 3.5 years in a penal colony. They are serving their sentences in one of the penal colonies in the Komi Republic.

According to Russian media, Yugov and Ulitin “forced believers to transfer property to the church, and most of the donations were sent to Ukrainian nationalists. In addition, adherents of the sect called for the overthrow of the government.” Also, ‘extremist’ literature, a Ukrainian passport and currency were found in Yugov’s flat and Ulitin’s country house.

On 14 October 2023, a court hearing heard the pastors’ appeal. Their lawyers insisted that the New Generation organisation, an umbrella for Pentecostal churches, was currently registered in the Russian Federation independently from the Ukrainian one. Consequently, the pastors’ fault consisted only of communication with a pastor from Ukraine. A lawyer asked the court to take into account that both clergy have families and children. Ulitin and Yugov ultimately repented and asked to commute their sentence. The court refused to appeal for both.