Justice in St Petersburg?

July 11, 2005

Al Akimoff, our director for Eastern Europe reports that the situation looks nasty, and calls for special prayer that a miracle of justice would happen there in Russia.

Her actual name is Nastya, and she has been leading the crisis pregnancy centre in St Petersburg, reaching out to prostitutes. Nastya is part of the YWAM St Petersburg leadership team. When Al visited there earlier this year they were being hassled with theft, intimidation and other attacks.

Al reports that she has been told she could sit in prison for three months, plus receive fines. Injustice is everywhere, reports Al, and even the two young men whoa re here witnesses have been coaxed by their lawyer to lie.

Last Christmas (Dec 20), just before the Orange Revolution broke loose in neighbouring Ukraine, overthrowing corrupt politicians, I wrote the following about her situation, asking for prayer:

HERE’S A REAL LIFE DILEMMA FROM ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA, IN WHICH MIGHT DEFINES RIGHT. Last week we suggested that relativism, with its assumption that all perspectives are legitimate, undermines justice in the long run. ‘When we can no longer say whose ideas are right, the guy with the most votes, the biggest guns and the most power gets to decides what’s right,’ we wrote. In other words, might becomes right.

This can take subtle forms. Or patently blatant forms of intimidation.

A young woman-we’ll call her Natasha-works with a YWAM crisis pregnancy centre and carries leadership responsibility within our organisation in St Petersburg. Late last month, an elderly aunt asked her for help. A neighbour in her communal apartment building had threatened her. So, supported by two young Christian men, Natasha went to visit her aunt.

Her aunt explained that the man wanted to scare off the other apartment tenants and ‘privatise’ the place for himself. Natasha’s friends went to see the man. In the intense conversation which followed, the man told them he worked for the militia police. Four days later, Natasha and her two friends received an invitation to meet the man at a cafe to discuss the matter further. When they arrived, the militia arrested Natasha and her friends, handcuffed them and took to a militia station. They eventually let them go home, but the militia officers are now accusing Natasha of being an extortion ringleader, and that she had brought these two men with knives to the apartment in order to extort money from the policeman living there.

They threaten to sue Natasha for ‘extortion’, a charge that can earn you a fifteen years behind bars. In Russia, a police officer’s word carries huge weight. There are no witnesses to prove the charge, but it appears there is a group of corrupted police officers involved.

Natasha and her fellow staff have sent out a plea for prayer. In the natural they seem to be at the mercy of crooked law-enforcers. So they ask us to appeal to the Higher Court of the One Righteous Judge on their behalf. Let’s pray for the truth to be brought out into the open, that honest police officials would defend Natasha, and that justice indeed will reign in St Petersburg. Let’s pray that what the Adversary meant for evil, God will use for good and exalt Natasha and her work in the eyes of the officials.

Proverbs 19:5 says: ‘A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish.’

Till next week,

Jeff Fountain
w e e k l y w o r d s p e c i a l
16 Jul/05
(No) news from St Petersburg

THE JUDGE PRESIDING OVER THE CASE OF NASTYA (Natasha) in St Petersburg, the YWAM worker falsely accused of extortion postponed the hearing until next month, August 16. All parties were present but for some reason the judge sent everyone home. The message from St Petersburg was that, while frustrating for Nastya, it was better than bad news.

Thank you for your prayers. Please continue to remember Nastya in prayer.

Jeff Fountain

Till next week,

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