Earlier this month, President Vladimir Putin approved new laws designed to reduce terrorism in Russia. The new laws also placed tighter restrictions on the proselyting work of religious parties and the members of those religions themselves. Leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement affirming that the Church “will honor, sustain and obey the law. Missionaries will remain in Russia and will work within the requirements of the law. The Church will further study and analyze the law and its impact as it goes into effect.”
On Monday, the Deseret News reported one such change. LDS missionaries in Russia will now be called volunteers. This change is immediate; a letter provided by mission presidents in the area to the families of missionaries currently serving in Russia have been asked to start observing the difference on social media and in any messages. No other official changes have been announced at this time.
The Associated Press has listed multiple consequences to those caught breaking the new laws, which will go into effect on July 20, 2016. This includes a fine upward of $780 for any missionary caught praying or distributing materials in a private residence and $15,500 for the organization to which the missionary belongs to. Members of the Church would also not be allowed to share their faith online.
Russia has approximately 22,720 members and 7 missions to serve 100 congregations. The first stake in Russia was organized by President Russell M. Nelson in June 2011.