"Religious minorities have an uneasy presence in Russia today," an article by Emma Friedlander from The Moscow Times states. With an estimated 22,000 members in Russia, Latter-day Saints are among one of those minorities.
Though President Russell M. Nelson announced last April that a temple will be built in a "major city yet to be determined in Russia," what the future of the Church in Russia will look like is still uncertain after the Russian government passed anti-terrorism legislation in 2016 that prohibits proselytizing.
"One way in which Latter-day Saints are trying to stay out of the limelight is by complying with the rules," Friedlander writes, quoting mission President Sterling Eric Ottesen: “The church’s primary aim is to obey Russian law, not challenge it."
But in addition to these political pressures, Friedlander notes, "Church members also face discrimination from friends, family, and neighbors."
"Church members say that current political tensions between Russia and the United States have contributed to negative stereotypes that the church kidnaps people, takes their money and spies on locals.
"'Russian people think this way because they read false information about our church on the internet,' said Alyona Samoilova, 18. 'I know because I’ve also read this information, and a lot of it just isn’t true.'"
But many of the Saints in Russia find solace in the Church. One convert, who joined the Church after his father's suicide, told The Moscow Times, “I was emotionally destroyed. . . . The Church showed up and offered friendship, community, and a lot of blessings.”
Friedlander notes, "But no matter how much adversity grows, church leaders and members say that Russian Latter-day Saints will remain some of the world’s most devout followers – despite, and perhaps in spite of, their shrinking community."