- Associated Press - Sunday, May 21, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The Mormon Church is merging two of its missions in Russia, sending those members home early or reassigning them to finish their service in the U.S.

The Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Saturday that it would combine the southeast Vladivostok Mission and the southern Novosibirsk Mission, effective July 1.

Having six missions instead of seven in the country comes a year after Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed a law restricting religious practices as an anti-terrorism measure.

Church officials in response kept their plans to send missionaries but said they would be known as “volunteers” and would refrain from proselytizing publicly to comply with the law.

The affected missionaries who were set to return in July will now head back this month. The others will be reassigned.

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