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The recent expulsion of an American missionary as a "danger" to Russia has spotlighted a growing clampdown on overseas Christian workers, warns Keston Institute (KI), a U.K.-based religious-freedom watchdog. Craig Rucin was deported from Izhevsk, the capital of the Republic of Udmurtia, in July. Officials told him the decision was "a matter of national security," said Keston News Service (KNS). Serving with Pioneers, Rucin had been working with a local cultural exchange organization and training local pastors in his spare time.

Keston director Lawrence Uzzell said that Russian officials have been growing "much more likely to treat Western missionaries just as harshly as they treat indigenous Russian Protestants. He said the trend reflected the thinking of Nikolai Trofimchuk, a senior adviser on religion to President Putin, who wants Russian state policy to put "spiritual security on the same plain as national security."

Charisma News Service