8 July 2014 the heads of Evangelical Protestant Churches of Ukraine issued a statement on religious persecution in occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
“Targeted attacks against evangelicals by armed militants involve kidnapping, beating, torture, threats of execution, bashing prayer meetings, taking over prayer houses, rehabilitation centers and other places of worship and auxiliary facilities, inflicting personal injury and property damage on pastors and church officials” – reads the statement.
In May – June 2014 instances of capturing and beating evangelical pastors and ministers were recorded in Sloviansk, Horlivka, Donetsk and Druzhkivka.
“DNR” and “LNR” terrorists also capture houses of worship to accommodate their own staffs, hospitals and fire points. Such incidents have occurred repeatedly in Donetsk and Horlivka, as well as in Sloviansk, Shakhtarsk, Druzhkivka, Torez of Donetsk region and in Luhansk region, reads the statement.
Serhiy Kosyak, pastor of one of the Donetsk Protestant churches described the torture suffered in militants’ captivity. According to him, 24 May 2014, militants attacked a prayer tent set on the square in Donetsk. When he came to Regional State Administration, the militants grabbed and tortured him.
According to Kosyak, he was stripped half-naked and took to one of the rooms, where a mattress laid in a corner, and told him that this would be his home.
“They said that I would be finished off after the tortures. They tied yellow-blue ribbons on my neck and wrists. Previously, they promised to hang me on one of them. Periodically they came into the room and continued to beat. It was different people, who beat me one after another or simultaneously. But they started to beat me with whips instead of sticks. Whips ripped flesh, but made no serious damage to internal organs,” the pastor describes his experience.
The Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith of Ukraine announced the killing of four of its members. 8 June, 2014 “DNR” militants broke into the premises of the church “The Transfiguration of Christ” after the mass and arrested deacons Volodymyr Velychko and Viktor Bradarskyi and two adult sons senior pastor – Ruvym and Albert Pavenkovs. The terrorists accused the Christians of crime against “DNR” – namely, support for Ukrainian army.
Volodymyr Velychko had a wife and eight children,Viktor Bradarskyi had family with three children. One of Pavenko brothers was unmarried, the another had a wife.
As it turned out, believers were tortured and killed the very next day – 9 June.
Besides this Anton Herashchenko, Advisor to the Minister of the Interior Affairs, reporting the discovery of mass graves of civilians killed in Sloviansk, including representatives of the religious community, said “We certainly know that in that mass grave, located in the heart of Sloviansk, next to Children’s Hospital on Urytskogo street, 12, next to the corpses of the terrorists lie the bodies of four murdered parishioners of the Protestant Church of the Transfiguration, “- he said.