Protestants Lay Wreaths at the Kremlin Wall

Protestants Lay Wreaths at the Kremlin Wall for the Second Time


Protestants allowed to participate solely as Protestants for the first time


M o s c o w – For only the second time in their history, representatives of Russia´s Protestant churches laid wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier near the walls of the Kremlin on 8 May, the Day of Victory in WW II. New was the fact that Russian Protestants were allowed to visit present-day Russia´s most honoured place for the first time strictly as Protestants. Before the first Protestant commemoration a year ago, the event’s second host – the social department of a part of the metropolitan government – contributed strongly to the granting of permission. This year`s sponsors were two organisations also present a year ago: the “Advisory Council of Heads of the Protestant Churches of Russia” and one of its members - the “National Prayer Breakfast”. The latter is headed by the Baptist pastor Vitali Vlasenko (Moscow).


The transfer of the delegation`s 30 participants into the cordoned-off zone around the Tomb was overshadowed this year by the vehement protests of a female passerby who claimed that a Russian can only be Orthodox. That appeared to only strengthen the delegates resolve to ceremonially proclaim their status as a part of the Russian nation.


In conversations afterward, Pastor Vlasenko explained: „For decades we were regarded as a foreign entity and suspected of being a fifth column.” But we too are Russians. We too love our land and share all the joys and suffering of its people. We owe our own people at least that much solidarity.” The pastor regards participation in a holiday military in nature by no means as bowing to the spirit of militarism.


Approximately 110 persons participated in the ceremony a year ago, yet only a very few Protestant war veterans appeared this time. The small numbers were due partly to the fact that 8 Mai fell on a weekday this year. Vlasenko is nevertheless certain that Protestants will continue to participate in these state celebrations. He also expects little or no opposition from the heirarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church.


Dr. William Yoder

Department for External Church Relations, RUECB

Moscow,11 May 2007


A press release of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists. May be published freely. Release #07-14, 318 words.