Mormons held for lecturing on their religious convictions while on tourist visas.
The 17 foreigners were escorted to the migration service office where they were subjected to an administrative penalty. Picture: Lands of Planet
The US citizens were detained and escorted to the Migration Service in the Altai region of southern Siberia. Reports say they were fined 2000 roubles each - $57 - for having the wrong kind of visa.
'The missionaries, who were performing at the House of Culture in the town of Rubtsovsk...entered Russia with tourist visas.
'However, instead of exploring the country and the beautiful places in the Rubtsovsk district, they organised classes with locals to tell them about their religious convictions,' said Federal Migration Service Directorate for the region. 'The 17 foreigners were escorted to the migration service office where they were subjected to an administrative penalty in the form of a fine.'
Spokeswoman Maria Yuzhakov said the Mormons had been badly advised, and that their preaching had been popular in Altai region.
'The event was very popular among the citizens,' she said. 'The foreigners are very law-abiding citizens, in fact they did not commit anything criminal.
'This was not the first time they came to Altai region. They had been in Rubtsovsk, Barnaul and other cities. During the meetings, they usually very unobtrusively, in the form of small talk, told their world view, promoted healthy lifestyles, and family values.
'The violation, which the migration service revealed at this time, was a mistake of person accompanying them.
'He just asked them to get the wrong type of visa. The guests have suffered because of his illiteracy'.
Dmitriy Shipilov seized soon after publication of interview with advocate of greater Siberian autonomy.