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Baptist Youth Pastor on Trial in Russia

August 16, 2003|From Times Wire Reports

MOSCOW — An American Baptist youth pastor facing up to five years behind bars on smuggling charges went on trial here this week as scores of supporters across North America simultaneously fasted and prayed for his release.

Andrew Okhotin, a student at Harvard Divinity School, is accused of trying to take $48,000 in cash through Moscow's main international airport without declaring it to customs officials. Okhotin says that he duly filled out a customs declaration but that customs inspectors ignored it, instead demanding bribes.

Okhotin's father was a Soviet-era pastor in an underground Baptist church who was arrested for his faith. The family immigrated to the U.S. in 1989.

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