A Christian radio station based in Odessa, Ukraine, leaves the country to avoid breaking a new law imposed during the war: No music in the Russian language.
There are a few exceptions to the law imposed in response to the invasion of Vladimir Putin’s forces on February 24: classics by composers such as Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich and modern composers who have condemned war.
As Christianity today reports, however, that the majority of contemporary worship songs in Ukraine are in Russian, including those written by Ukrainians.
“I don’t want our staff arrested for reading the Bible in Russian,” Dan Johnson, president of Christian Radio for Russia, which operates New Life Radio, told Christianity Today. “We expected bombs to destroy our radio operations, but it turned out to be that law.”
About 65% of the station’s airtime is devoted to music and focuses on Russian speakers.
Johnson previously worked in Russia, broadcasting a radio ministry from 1996 to 2006 in Magadan before being expelled. He continued his satellite network in Moscow until 2019, when he moved to Odessa to escape repression.
Now, he says, he will move the satellite and internet station to Budapest, Hungary, which has a large Russian Christian population and has hosted his ministry.
It also raises funds to build a Ukrainian-language station in Odessa.
“There is no government in the world that can stop the gospel,” Johnson said. “We will pivot and move forward as always.”