Two young Latter-day Saint volunteers were arrested in Novorossiysk, Russia after local authorities believed they were teaching English without a license, according to a news report from Deseret News.
However, the two young men say they were only hosting a game night in English, a regularly scheduled event in their area. The volunteers were arrested on Friday, March 1, and continue to be detained. A court hearing on Saturday, where the volunteers were represented by attorneys provided by the Church, left the matter unresolved and no further news about their release has been provided since.
Church spokesman Eric Hawkins provided the following statement:
“While we are grateful these young men are reportedly in good condition and are being treated well, we are troubled by the circumstances surrounding their detention. They have both spoken to their parents. We will continue to work with local authorities and encourage the swift release of these volunteers.”
It is hopeful the volunteers will be able to surrender their visas and leave the country. According to news reports from family members who’ve talked with them, the volunteers are being treated well, have food, and feel fine.
Similar to traditional missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the young volunteers are from the Russia Rostov-na-Donu Mission and are called volunteers to comply with anti-terrorism laws in the country.
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.