Russian Pentecostal pastor seeks political asylum in Germany

ReutersAn priest conducts a blessing in Russia. Christians can hold authorised gatherings, and the country is largely Orthodox.

An evangelical Christian pastor from Russia has described how he has fled his homeland to seek political asylum in Germany because he says he fears being imprisoned as a terrorist.

Alexey Kolyasnikov, from Sochi, speaking to DW, said: 'Why Germany? The Protestant Church here is strong.'

He added: 'It is very dangerous to return to Russia. There, I will be declared a terrorist and put behind bars.'

Kolyasnikov is now living as a refugee in a shelter in Leverkusen in Germany, along with his wife and three daughters.

He fled in July this year, three years after he and his congregation of Pentecostal Christians met as usual for worship in a café and agents from Russia's Federal Security Service turned up and accused him of holding an authorised religious gathering.

He was subequently fined after a court hearing.

He says attempts to link him with political events in Ukraine are not justified.

Kolyasnikov's lawyer Alexander Popkov told DW that the Ukraine situation has heightened tensions in Russia which wants to keep religious communities in their country under control. 'And Kolyasnikov has refused to be controlled,' he added.