U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
800 North Capitol Street, NW Suite 790 Washington, DC 20002
I wish to congratulate you on the twentieth anniversary of emigration from the Soviet Union after decades of persecution for religious belief. Your success in this difficult endeavor was the result of many long years of danger and dedication dating back to 1963. Your brave leaders, such as Vasily Patrushev and Fyodor Sidenko, started your long struggle to defend religious rights against relentless persecution, including labor camps, internal exile and discrimination. They led your many years of effort to emigrate.
Your rights campaign reached a new phase when, at great personal risk, 10,000 believers, led by N.P. Goretoi, V.S. Shilyuk, and B.G. Perchatkin, signed a petition, “Let My People Go!” and this appeal reached the United States Congress. Your voices calling from the wilderness of Soviet power, reached a wide new world that heard your appeal for attention and support.
As you meet to celebrate your victory in your hard-won struggle, we recall the many sacrifices made by those Pentecostals, Baptists and Adventists who refused to compromise with Soviet power. We also know that the struggle for freedom of religion or belief still continues in today’s Russia.
I regret that I cannot join you on October 11, but my thoughts are with you all on the happy anniversary. .