MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian court has ordered the deportation of two American Mormons for violating the terms of their visas.
Officials said the men were working as English teachers without proper credentials and had given religious affairs as their reason for being in Russia. They were detained Friday in Novorossiisk, a Black Sea city.
State news agency Tass says a regional court on Thursday upheld a lower court's deportation order.
Tass quoted a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spokesman in Russia denying the two Americans were teaching.
Yuri Kozhokin said: "They just talked with Russian citizens who came to see them on their own accord."
A church spokesman in the United States, Eric Hawkins, says he can't release the men's names, but that church officials "are troubled by the circumstances surrounding their detention."