Religious minorities have an uneasy presence in Russia today.
Russians who converted to the Mormon Church in the 1990s and early 2000s say most of their members have undergone traumatic experiences.
They said they feel marginalized from society.
The church is headquartered in the United States and sends missionaries across the world.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, these missionaries set their sights on Russia.
The followers grew across the country but mainly in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Saratov.
Foreign church leaders and local members say that most of their members have undergone traumatic experiences or feel marginalized from society.
Another sect of Christianity, Jehovah’s Witnesses, have borne the brunt of the crackdown.
The group was labelled an extremist organization and its first member was convicted to six years in prison earlier this month.
Their doctrine is based on the interpretations of the Bible.
They believe that the destruction of the present world system at Armageddon is imminent and the establishment of God’s kingdom over the earth is the only solution for all problems faced by humanity.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also known as Mormon Church has an estimated 22,000 practicing members in Russia.
They are also wary of similar intimidation.
Church members also face discrimination from friends, family and neighbours.
As Russian Mormons are shunned by their communities, they struggle to assert their own identity within a church.
A Mormon, Alexander, 31, joined the church in 2005 in a search for comfort following his father’s suicide.
He said, “I was emotionally destroyed.”
“The church showed up and offered friendship, community and a lot of blessings.”
Since the early 2000s congregation of Mormons has steadily shrunk.
Russian Mormons believe the decrease in the church’s membership can be linked to heightened political pressure in recent years.
In 2016, the Russian government passed anti-terrorism legislation that prohibited religious proselytization.
The legislation forced Mormon missionaries to rebrand themselves as “volunteers” and preventing them from seeking new converts.
The church’s Russian-language resource website, mormonnews.ru, is currently blocked by Russia’s media watchdog, Roskomnadzor.