Ukrainian Christian Leaders Tortured, Killed and Disappearing

UKRAINE — Into the third year of Russia’s occupation of parts of Ukraine, Christian leaders are being killed, tortured and are disappearing. And in Russia, priests who oppose Putin’s invasion are being imprisoned or silenced.

And yet, in Ukraine, there are signs of a growing hunger for the gospel, with reports of churches packed to overflowing and many giving their lives to Christ.

This report from Andrew Boyd from UK-based Release International.

In February, the body of a Ukrainian Orthodox priest was found in the streets of Russian-occupied Kherson. He was 59-year-old Stepan Podolchak. According to his bishop, Russian military forces had tortured him to death. Father Podolchak was hauled away barefoot with a bag over his head, say Norway-based Forum 18. His bruised body was later found in the street. According to some reports, he had been shot in the head.

Churches that are not Russian Orthodox face persecution and many have been closed. Some priests have been deported, others have disappeared. Father Podolchak had been pressured to desert the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and join the Russian Orthodox Church instead.

Despite the danger, he chose to remain with his congregation under Russian occupation. He’s been described as faithful to God, pure in soul, honest and just.

Other church leaders have suffered the same fate. In November 2023, Pentecostal deacon Anatoly Prokopchuk and his 19-year-old son Oleksandr  were kidnapped and shot in Kherson. Their mutilated bodies were found four days later in Woodland. And in Russia, Christians have been jailed for refusing to take the Putin line. It’s reported that 300 priests signed a petition condemning his invasion. Yet, despite the growing oppression, God is at work in the conflict.

Pastor Alexander Salvetnikov was tortured by the Russians. He managed to escape with his wife to an area still under Ukrainian control.

There, his new church is filled to capacity. Most are non-believers. At one service, 30 came forward to give their lives to Jesus. 30 more responded to the gospel at another service nearby.

Release International’s associate says, “People flock to the word of God and convert to Christ, in whom they find their only hope in the conflagration of war.

Read more news on Christian Ministry, Christian Persecution, Ukraine, and Russia on Missions Box.


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