The evening of June 21, 2014 eight people broke into the building of Word of Life Church in Shakhtersk, in the Donetsk Region of Ukraine. They were masked and dressed in camouflage and carried weapons. They did not introduce themselves, but announced their goal from the doorstep: “Leave the building. Bring the keys within 24 hours to our people in the administration.”
The church members offered no resistance, and turned in the keys to representatives of the Donetsk People’s Republic in the Shakhtersk City Administration as ordered. When armed representatives of the DPR came to Word of Life Church the next day, Pastor Nikolai Kalinichenko was in the church building, and they seized him and made him enter a vehicle.
In the car they beat and threatened the elderly pastor. The armed men repeatedly stated that “there should be no one here other than Muslims and the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.“ They repeatedly called him a member of a sect and told him to go back to the “Bandera” [radical right wing] headquarters.
Upon learning Pastor Kalinichenko’s home address, they decided to go to his home. The pastor’s wife had information that they might be visited by the separatists, therefore their son-in-law was with her and he spoke to the terrorists over the intercom when they rang the doorbell on the ground floor of the apartment building. They were surprised to hear a male voice and became enraged, because Nikolai had told them that his wife would be home alone. The son-in-law managed to slip out of the apartment mere seconds before the armed group arrived. When they entered the apartment they began tearing it apart in search of him.
The separatists were also in search of money and weapons. In the end the only things they took were computers. They then forced the pastor to reenter the vehicle with them and drove on. Next, the kidnappers demanded the pastor’s personal car. When they got to the parking lot where the car was parked and picked up the car, they finally released Nikolai. Beaten but alive, he made it home and the very next day Pastor Kalinichenko, his wife, and their daughter and son-in-law left the Donetsk Region. Leaving saved his life, because the next day, June 23rd, the pastor’s apartment was completely destroyed. Intruders fired weapons in all directions, leaving everything in ruins. The pastor learned this from a neighbor.
That same day, June 23rd, two flags appeared outside of Word of Life church in Shakhtersk – one from the Donetsk People’s Republic and one from the Russian Orthodox Church. All church property, including computers and paperwork, were confiscated and the church became a separatist headquarters.
Inga Che, for Russian Ministries