Christian committee defends Baptists in Rostov-on-Don

Arkhiv Samizdata, 3287, 18/ 5/ 78. Four members of the Christian Committee for the Defense of Believers’ Rights in the USSR, including the priest Gleb Yakunin, address to Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR L. I. Brezhnev an open letter in defense of the Baptists in Rostov-on-Don, who are being subjected to unceasing persecution. In May, 1978, a wave of arrests swept through the city in connection with an impending Baptist prayer meeting that had been announced beforehand. Hundreds of Believers were sentenced to ten or fifteen days in prison. In addition, some of the Baptists were carted off to a dispensary for the treatment of venereal diseases, where they «were forced to undergo blood transfusions». The authors of the Letter write: «It is evident that the use of force to detain healthy people in a dispensary for venereal diseases was motivated by the authorities’ desire to intimidate believers with the threat of venereal infection and. to disgrace them in the eyes of the public». (JW)