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Antiterror Law Forces Mormon Church To Cut Missionaries In Russia

Mormon church officials have cut the number of missionaries being sent to Russia, saying the adjustment was forced by Russia's new antiterrorism law.

Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said on September 5 that 30 missionaries in training in the U.S. state of Utah will instead go to other Russian-speaking missions in Eastern Europe. Forty-seven will still go to Russia as planned.

The move marks the latest change made by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the law earlier this summer that puts restrictions on religious practices.

Previously, the church announced that its missionaries in Russia would be known as "volunteers" and would refrain from proselytizing publicly to comply with the law.

Hawkins said there were about 22,000 Mormons worshiping in 100 different congregations in Russia.

In early August, six missionaries were detained for several hours by local Russian police over visa issues. Three were deported to other countries.

Based on reporting by AP and Deseret News

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