Soviet Baptist leader Georgi Vins was recently sentenced to five years in prison and five years in exile on charges stemming from his religious activities (February 28 issue, page 41). The date of the trial in Kiev was kept secret, but family members and other believers showed up nevertheless and maintained a vigil outside. The trial was held nearly a year after Vins’s arrest. Only persons with special passes, apparently persons hostile to Vins and evangelical Christianity, were to be admitted to the courtroom. Several family members, however, managed to get inside. Among these was Lydia Vins, Georgi’s mother, who like her son had spent time previously in Soviet jails for her faith. She tape-recorded her comments on the five-day trial, and aCHRISTIANITY TODAYcorrespondent in frequent touch with key Soviet believers sent the magazine a translated transcript. The following is an edited condensation of Mrs. Vin’s eyewitness account:
When I entered the courtroom and saw Georgi’s exhausted, sunken eyes, his pale face, I thought that he had not slept for nights. During a visit with him in prison in October, the first I had seen him since my own release more than four years earlier, we were not permitted to discuss what he had suffered. But during the trial he did say that only for the last two months of ten was he on his feet.
We had obtained Alf Haerem, a Norwegian Christian, to be Georgi’s defense lawyer. When the authorities found out, they sent for me. Although they had been very rough with me the week before, now they were polite and tried to persuade us to take an atheist as a defender, but we refused. They in turn refused to give Mr. Haerem an entry visa, and I so informed the court. At this, Georgi announced he was rejecting ...1
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