Pastor YURI SIPKO, EChB (Moscow)

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Pastor Yuri Sipko

From 2002 to 2010, Pastor Yuri Sipko was the chair of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christian Baptists, former vice-president of the World Baptist Alliance.

Since the beginning of Russian aggression against Ukraine, he has consistently spoken out against the war in his sermons, statements, interviews and on social media. Since 2014, he has opposed the annexation of Crimea.

On 8 August 2023, it became known that the Moscow Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation initiated a criminal case against Sipko under paragraph ‘e’ of Part 2 of Art. 207.3 Part 2 Para. E of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Public dissemination of knowingly false information about the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation based on political, ideological, racial, ethnic or religious hatred). He is charged with publishing in March 2022 “a video for an unlimited circle of people”, which, allegedly “according to a psychological and linguistic assessment, contains deliberately false information” about the actions of the Russian army in Ukraine.

Searches were carried out at Sipko’s house and church, as well as at his associates. Having learned about the prosecution initiated against him, the pastor managed to leave Russia. During the search, the security forces found the Sipko’s son; he was detained and interrogated at the Investigative Committee as a witness. It also became known that a search took place at bishop Albert Ratkin’s home of in Kaluga. He was also detained and interrogated, and is currently in the status of a witness in the case. Ratkin was released from the FSB department undre a non-disclosure agreement. In the past, Ratkin provided a platform for Sipko on his YouTube channel View from Heaven.

During the arrest of Bishop Albert Ratkin and a search of pastor Sipko’s apartment, the Investigative Committee employees filmed and published a video in order to discredit the clergy’s anti-fascist position. In the video, a blurred image of Hitler was shown on the desk; in reality, it was anti-fascist material – a DVD of the popular BBC documentary series, Rise of the Nazis.

While reporting on the initiation of a prosecution and searches, federal TV channels, in particular – First and NTV, refererd to Protestant communities of Baptists and Pentecostals as “pseudo-religious” or “radical religious” organisations, “centers of influence sponsored by foreign intelligences”, “American cult”, “extremist sects”. These statements have signs of hate speech, they are aimed at discrediting religious communities.

Pastor Yuri Sipko was put on the wanted list.