The Court in Sochi Left 68-Year-Old Nikolay Kuzichkin in Jail. About 70 People Came to Support the BelieverBy Isabella
On January 22, 2020, a court in Sochi left 68-year-old Nikolay Kuzichkin in custody until February 24, continuing to hold him in a pre-trial detention center where he is being denied needed medical treatment although his condition is critical.
A Russian court has convicted three followers of the Jehovah’s Witnesses of participating in a religion banned for extremism. They were given suspended sentences of up to 2 1/2 years.
“Russian authorities today are following in the footsteps of their Soviet predecessors”, said a spokesman for the Jehovah’s Witnesses world headquarters in Warwick, New York.
The country has convicted 24 members since 2017, when it banned the denomination. Russia is known for its laws intended to crack down on opposition activists and religious minorities.
In November, Russia angered the West with by announcing a law that allows the Kremlin to label journalists and ordinary people as foreign agents if they collaborate with foreign media organisations and receive financial or other material support from them.
Last week, one of Russia’s elite universities, announced it is considering banning its students and staff from performing political speech.
On November 6, 2019, Anatoliy Tokarev was charged under two “extremist” articles at once (organization of the activities of an extremist organization, Part 1 of Article 282.2, and its financing, Part 1 of Article 282.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation).
JW Russia: ‘Persecuted’ Jehovah’s Witness, 89, faces prison on religious extremism charges in RussiaBy Isabella
An 89-year-old former maths teacher faces up to ten years in a Russian prison on charges of religious extremism in a crackdown on Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Russia outlawed the evangelical Christian group in 2017, categorising it as extremist and on a par with Islamic State and neo-Nazi movements.
Nine Jehovah’s Witnesses were jailed last year after being arrested while leading or organising prayer meetings.
They were jailed for between two and six years. More than 30 others have spent at least six months in detention.
Rimma Vashchenko, born in 1930, is one of eight other residents of Nevinnomyssk, a city in south Russia, who were charged with extremism after raids on Bible study groups by armed police. Four are in their seventies.
Ms Vashchenko, who has…
MOSCOW (Reuters) - A court in the Russian Far East on Tuesday handed a six-year suspended jail sentence to a Jehovah’s Witness, Grigoriy Bubnov, after finding him guilty of extremist activity, a spokesman for the religious group said.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have been under pressure for years in Russia, where the dominant Orthodox Church is championed by President Vladimir Putin. Orthodox scholars have cast them as a dangerous foreign sect that erodes state institutions and traditional values, allegations they reject.
Russia’s Supreme Court ruled in 2017 that the group was an “extremist” organization and ordered it to disband, a decision that was followed by a crackdown which has seen dozens of adherents detained and hundreds hit with criminal charges.
Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-politics-religion/russian-jehovahs-witness-gets-suspended-sentence-for-extremism-spokesman-idUSKBN1ZK0MC
JW Russia: Mass Detentions in Kazan: Department for Combating Organized Crime Finds Out Why People Aged 9 to 80 Read the BibleBy Isabella
On the morning of January 19, 2020, in Kazan, law enforcement officers detained about 15 believers, including two children and two women over the age of 80. All of them were interrogated using psychological pressure about who forces them to read the Bible. Some believers have been searched and detained.
JW Russia:Court of Appeal Upholds Criminal Sentence for Aleksey Metsger for Believing in Jehovah GodBy Isabella
On January 13, 2020, the Perm Regional Court upheld the decision of a lower court to punish Aleksey Metsger for practicing his religion. He will be fined 350,000 rubles.
By The Librarian
In northern Russia, seven men have come forward to claim they were tortured by police because of their religious views. The men are all Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their organisation was banned by Russia’s Supreme Court in 2017 as extremist and dozens of Jehovah’s Witnesses have since been detained across the country. Officials in Surgut initially denied the reports of torture, but now say they will investigate. President Vladimir Putin has called the prosecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses ‘utter nonsense’ and asked the Supreme Court for clarification on how the law is applied. BBC correspondent Sarah Rainsford reports.
By Guest Indiana
The text of an open letter from Roman Makhnev, who has been kept in a pre-trial detention center for months because of his religion, to the governor of the Kaluga region Anatoliy Artamonov, is published below. The believer draws attention to the violations of his rights and asks for a fair hearing.
“FSB Officers Were Told Jehovah's Witnesses Were Enemies.” Read Last Word of Valeriy Moskalenko at CourtBy Guest Indiana
On September 2, 2019, Khabarovsk resident Valeriy Moskalenko was sentenced to two years and two months of forced labor and another six months of restriction of freedom for believing in Jehovah God. We have published the text of his last words before the verdict.
JW Russia:In Primorsky Territory, Sergey Sergeyev and Yuriy Belosludtsev Moved from Jail to House ArrestBy Guest Indiana
At the end of September 2019, a court in the Primorsky Territory decided to release two believers from the pre-trial detention center. Sergey Sergeyev and Yuriy Belosludtsev from Luchegorsk were placed under house arrest. However, cases for faith against them continue to be investigated.
By Guest Indiana
The jailing of six Jehovah's Witnesses in Saratov for up to three and a half years "equates peaceful believers with dangerous criminals", Jehovah's Witnesses complain. The Prosecutor's Office did not respond as to why it considered these men dangerous and should be jailed. A Khabarovsk court sentenced another man to assigned labour for discussing Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.
Six men in Saratov have become the first Russian citizens to receive custodial sentences after the Supreme Court's 2017 ban on all Jehovah's Witness activity. Konstantin Bazhenov, Aleksey Budenchuk, Feliks Makhammadiyev, Roman Gridasov, Gennady German, and Aleksey Miretsky were jailed on 19 September for between two and three and a half years in a general-regime labour camp (correctional colony). They intend to appeal.
Aleksey Budenchuk, Konstantin Bazhenov, Feliks Makhammadiyev, Aleksey Miretsky, Roman Gridasov, Gennady German, Saratov
The court "ignored" the fact that that the case materials identified "not a single victim and not a single negative consequence of the alleged extremist activity", Jehovah's Witnesses complained. The verdict "equates peaceful believers with dangerous criminals" (see below).
Neither the Prosecutor's Office nor the Court responded to Forum 18's question as to why they considered these men dangerous and should be jailed (see below).
A court in Khabarovsk in the Far East ordered on 2 September that another man, Valery Moskalenko, should carry out over two years of assigned labour followed by six months' probation, also for allegedly "continuing the activities of a banned extremist organisation" (see below).
The prosecution based its argument on a ten-minute recording of Moskalenko reading and commenting on Jesus' Sermon on the Mount at a Jehovah's Witness gathering. A prosecution "expert" claimed that his preaching contained evidence of "the promotion of exclusivity" and "calls for the continuation of the activities of the banned organisation" (see below).
Moskalenko "was convicted for his faith and the defence will seek acquittal by all legal means, up to an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights", his lawyer Svetlana Gnilokostova told Forum 18 (see below).
The Prosecutor's Office did not respond to Forum 18's question as to why it had sought to jail Moskalenko and whether it intends to appeal (see below).
In Perm on 5 September, Jehovah's Witness Aleksandr Solovyov failed to overturn his conviction and fine of about 11 months' average local wages (see below).
Raids, arrests, trials continue
In 2017, Russia's Supreme Court banned all Jehovah's Witness activity throughout the country with its decision to declare the Jehovah's Witness Administrative Centre and all 395 local communities "extremist organisations".
In addition to the September 2019 convictions in Saratov and Khabarovsk, a further 25 Jehovah's Witnesses are currently known to be on trial in eight different locations. In a ninth case, a court in Kostroma sent the case back to prosecutors. Over 200 more people are the subjects of criminal investigation, with many in pre-trial detention or under house arrest (see forthcoming F18News article).
Becoming the subject of a criminal case under the Extremism Law can have far-reaching effects on an individual's life, even before conviction. Investigators may have suspects placed on the Federal Financial Monitoring (Rosfinmonitoring) "List of Terrorists and Extremists", whose assets banks are obliged to freeze, with the exception of small transactions of up to 10,000 Roubles.
On 26 July 2019, President Vladimir Putin also signed into law amendments to the Railway Transport Law which bar anyone "in relation to whom there is information about their involvement in extremist activities or terrorism" from driving trains. This will come into force after 180 days.
FSB, police, National Guard, Investigative Committee, and other officials continue to arrest, interrogate, and detain Jehovah's Witnesses for allegedly "organising" or "participating in the activity of a social or religious association or other organisation in relation to which a court has adopted a decision legally in force on liquidation or ban on the activity in connection with the carrying out of extremist activity" (Criminal Code Article 282.2, Parts 1 and 2), as well as for the alleged "financing of extremist activity" (Criminal Code Article 282.3, Part 1).
"The officers often treat the Witnesses as if they were hardened criminals," Jehovah's Witnesses complained in their report to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw in September 2019.
"Russia is grossly misapplying its own laws to criminally charge the Witnesses with participating in, organising, or financing 'extremist activity'. In reality, the Witnesses are merely peacefully meeting together for worship, reading the Bible or talking to others about their beliefs."
In addition to criminal prosecutions and the associated detentions and harsh treatment by police and other investigators, the report also notes the prohibition of Jehovah's Witness literature (including their New World version of the Bible), the state confiscation of property, and "at least five cases" of Jehovah's Witness men of military call-up age being denied the right to perform alternative civilian service.
Dennis Christensen behind windows in court, 28 January 2019
Human Rights Watch [CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 US]
The first Jehovah's Witness in post-Soviet Russia to be imprisoned for exercising his freedom of religion or belief was Danish citizen Dennis Ole Christensen. An Oryol court handed him a six-year sentence in February 2019. He was accused of "continuing the activities" of the local Jehovah's Witness community in Oryol, which was banned and liquidated in 2016, before the Supreme Court ruling.
Another Oryol Jehovah's Witness, Sergey Vladimirovich Skrynnikov, was charged with the same offence and given a 350,000 Rouble fine in April 2019. This represents about 18 months' average wages in Oryol for those in formal work.
The first Jehovah's Witness to be convicted as a result of the 2017 ban was Aleksandr Vasilyevich Solovyov from Perm, who received a fine of 300,000 Roubles in July 2019 (see below).
Muslims also jailed under Extremism Law
Muslims who meet to read the works of late theologian Said Nursi are also subject to prosecution, fines, and jailing under Criminal Code Article 282.2 ("organisation of" or "participation in the activity of a social or religious association or other organisation in relation to which a court has adopted a decision legally in force on liquidation or ban on the activity in connection with the carrying out of extremist activity").
Two are known to be serving jail sentences. A Makhachkala court jailed Artur Abdulgamidovich Kaltuyev for three years in November 2017. A court in Izberbash jailed Ilgar Vagif-ogly Aliyev for eight years in June 2018.
Yevgeny Lvovich Kim, who was released after a year and ten months' imprisonment in April 2019, was deprived of his Russian citizenship and ordered to be deported to Uzbekistan, his country of birth. At present, he remains in a detention centre for foreign nationals in Khabarovsk. It is not known when he will be expelled from Russia, as Uzbekistan is currently refusing to accept him.
Two more prosecutions of Nursi readers are underway – those of Denis Vladimirovich Zhukov in Krasnoyarsk and Yevgeny Igoryevich Sukharev in the Krasnoyarsk Region town of Sharypovo. It is unknown when they will come to trial.
Saratov: Six Jehovah's Witnesses sentenced to imprisonment
On 19 September 2019, after 12 hearings over nearly three months, Judge Dmitry Larin of Saratov's Lenin District Court found six Jehovah's Witnesses guilty under Criminal Code Article 282.2, Part 1 ("organisation of extremist activity"). He jailed all six for up to three and a half years. They were taken into custody directly from the courtroom.
Judge Larin handed down these sentences:
1) Konstantin Viktorovich Bazhenov (born 10 May 1975), three years and six months' imprisonment
2) Aleksey Vladimirovich Budenchuk (born 27 July 1982), three years and six months' imprisonment
3) Feliks Khasanovich Makhammadiyev (born 14 December 1984), three years' imprisonment
4) Roman Aleksandrovich Gridasov (born 16 September 1978), two years' imprisonment
5) Gennady Vasilyevich German (born 12 June 1969), two years' imprisonment
6) Aleksey Petrovich Miretsky (born 14 December 1975), two years' imprisonment.
The judge also imposed a five-year ban on holding leadership positions in public organisations and one year of restrictions on freedom. According to the European Association of Jehovah's Witnesses, all six defendants insist that they "have nothing to do with extremism" and are intending to challenge the guilty verdict.
These are the first custodial sentences for Russian citizens under either the Supreme Court's 2017 ruling which outlawed Jehovah's Witness activities nationwide, or the local bans which preceded it, as well as the first conviction under Criminal Code Article 282.2, Part 1 ("organisation of extremist activity") as a result of the 2017 ban.
The court "ignored" the fact that the case materials identified "not a single victim and not a single negative consequence of the alleged extremist activity", the European Association of Jehovah's Witnesses commented on its jw-russia.org news website on 19 September 2019. The charges against the men were based on the assumption that "faith in God is 'continuation of the activities of an extremist organisation'," the Association claimed.
"Instead of searching for and proving the guilt of the defendants, the prosecutor's office was busy 'proving' their confession of a particular religion, while no religion has been banned in Russia," the Association added. "[The verdict] equates peaceful believers with dangerous criminals."
In court, the defendants argued that "collective meetings and religious practices of individuals are not related to the activities of local religious organisations, but are the exercise of their constitutional right to freedom of religion", the jw-russia.org news website reported on 11 September. They also explained that were they somehow connected with extremism, they "could not be considered followers of Jesus Christ".
In their final statements on 18 September, the defendants expressed their confusion as to why they were accused of "believing in God, reading the Bible, [and] singing spiritual songs and prayers", and insisted that they did no harm to anyone.
Prosecutors had asked for prison terms of seven years each for Bazhenov, Budenchuk, and Makhammadiyev, and six years each for Gridasov, German, and Miretsky.
Bazhenov, Budenchuk, and Makhammadiyev were in detention for 343 days before being released under specific restrictions for the duration of their trial. Under amendments to the Criminal Code signed into law in July 2018, one day in custody is taken as equivalent to a day and half in a correctional colony. Should their sentence enter legal force, it is therefore likely that Bazhenov and Budenchuk will serve about two years and one month, and Makhammadiyev about one year and seven months.
Gridasov, German, and Miretsky spent the time since their initial arrest under travel restrictions. Should the verdict enter legal force, the length of their terms of imprisonment will therefore be unchanged.
Forum 18 wrote to Lenin District Court on 25 September, asking why it had decided that custodial sentences were necessary and in what way the six men could be considered dangerous. Forum 18 had received no reply by the afternoon of the working day in Saratov on 4 October. Forum 18 called Judge Larin's office on 4 October, but the telephone went unanswered.
Forum 18 submitted the same questions to Saratov Regional Prosecutor's Office on 26 September, also asking whether prosecutors were intending to challenge the sentences imposed. Forum 18 had received no reply by the afternoon of the working day in Saratov on 4 October. When Forum 18 called the Prosecutor's Office press service on 4 October, the telephone went unanswered.
Khabarovsk: Jehovah's Witness sentenced to assigned labour
Protest in support of Jehovah's Witnesses, St Petersburg, 23 March 2019
Tatyana Voltskaya (RFE/RL)
After seven hearings across nine weeks and over a year in detention, Jehovah's Witness Valery Vasilyevich Moskalenko (born 15 April 1967) was found guilty under Criminal Code Article 282.2, Part 2 on 2 September. He received a sentence of two years and two months of assigned labour (prinuditelniye raboty) followed by six months of probation.
Judge Ivan Belykh of Khabarovsk's Railway District Court also imposed a ban on Moskalenko leaving the city for this period and a requirement to report to probation authorities once a month. Prosecutors had requested a three-year prison term.
The verdict has not yet entered legal force. Moskalenko denies committing any offence and is challenging his conviction. Khabarovsk Regional Court registered his appeal on 16 September 2019, according to the court website; Judge Natalya Bondareva is due to consider it on 10 October 2019.
"In the actions of Valery Vasilyevich Moskalenko, there was no crime under Article 282.2, Part 1 of the Criminal Code," his lawyer Svetlana Gnilokostova told Forum 18 on 4 October. "He was convicted for his faith and the defence will seek acquittal by all legal means, up to an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights."
Moskalenko was released directly from the courtroom, having spent 396 days in custody in Khabarovsk's Investigation Prison No. 1. Under the July 2018 amendments to the Criminal Code, one day in pre-trial detention is taken as equivalent to two days of assigned labour. Moskalenko was therefore deemed to have served his sentence.
If his appeal is unsuccessful, however, he will still be left with a criminal conviction, and will still have to spend six months on probation.
The judge took account of extenuating circumstances, Moskalenko's lawyer Svetlana Gnilokostova told Forum 18 on 3 October: the defendant's age, the fact he has a heart condition, his role as carer for his ill and elderly mother (with whom he lived prior to his arrest), positive character references, and the lack of a previous criminal record.
Officers initially arrested Moskalenko on 2 August 2018 during a series of raids on Jehovah's Witness homes in the city. His name does not appear among the founder members of either of the two local Jehovah's Witness communities active in Khabarovsk at the time of the Supreme Court's 2017 ruling, but he was a founder member of the "Oblachnaya" congregation, which was dissolved in 2012 and apparently re-registered under a different name ("Northern") the same year.
The prosecution based its argument on a ten-minute recording of Moskalenko reading and commenting on Jesus' Sermon on the Mount at a Jehovah's Witness gathering in a conference hall on 21 April 2018, according to the European Association of Jehovah's Witnesses.
An "expert witness" for the prosecution, psychologist Alyona Payevshchik from the Emergencies Ministry, claimed that his preaching contained evidence of "the promotion of exclusivity" and "calls for the continuation of the activities of the banned organisation".
In his testimony, Moskalenko insisted that his sermon had been peaceful. "In my opinion, this specialist [Payevshchik] is not competent in religious matters," his lawyer Svetlana Gnilokostova told Forum 18. "Giving answers to the investigator's questions, she went beyond psychology and was guided by her personal opinion, which is not legal".
Forum 18 wrote to Khabarovsk Regional Prosecutor's Office before the start of the Khabarovsk working day of 26 September, asking why prosecutors had sought to jail Moskalenko and whether they intended to appeal. Forum 18 had received no reply by the end of the working day in Khabarovsk on 4 October.
Forum 18 also contacted Khabarovsk's Railway District Court to ask why Moskalenko had received a assigned labour sentence and whether prosecutors had lodged an appeal. A spokeswoman for the court responded on 3 October, saying only that the verdict had not yet entered legal force and that Moskalenko's lawyer had lodged an appeal, which the district court had passed on to Khabarovsk Regional Court.
According to Article 53.1 of the Criminal Code and Article 16 of the Criminal Procedural Code, judges impose sentences of assigned labour (prinuditelniye raboty) instead of imprisonment, if they decide that the former will have a sufficient "correctional" effect on the convicted person but find that a suspended sentence is unsuitable. Assigned labour is used as a punishment only for minor or mid-level offences, or for a first-time serious offence (as in Moskalenko's case).
Where assigned labour is carried out is decided by the prison service – it should be at a correctional centre in the region in which the convicted person lives or was on trial, but people can be sent elsewhere if this is not possible.
Assigned labour may take the form of any job in any organisation, as determined by the correctional centre administering the sentence. According to the Criminal Procedural Code, this takes into account an individual's age, gender, health, ability to work, and occupational speciality, but the assigned work depends on availability and the convicted person has no right to refuse. Officials check on convicted persons' locations at least once a day.
Assigned labour sentences can last anywhere from two months to five years (one to four years under Criminal Code Article 282.2, Part 2; it is not a possible punishment under Part 1). The work is paid, but, if specified in the sentence, deductions of 5 to 20 per cent may be made from wages and paid to the relevant regional body of the prison service.
Should a convicted person abscond or break the rules, the sentence will be replaced by imprisonment for the same duration.
Perm: Appeal unsuccessful
On 5 September, Perm Regional Court upheld the conviction of the first Jehovah's Witness to be found guilty under the Supreme Court's nationwide ban.
On 4 July, Ordzhonikidze District Court fined Aleksandr Vasilyevich Solovyov (born 13 February 1970) 300,000 Roubles under Criminal Code Article 282.2, Part 2. This represents about 11 months' average wages in Perm for those in formal work. (END)
JW Russia:Another Petrozavodsk Resident Accused of Extremism and Loses Job Due to Persecution for FaithBy Guest Indiana
On September 20, 2019, in Petrozavodsk, Dmitriy Ravnushkin, 44, was detained—right at his workplace. The Witness was taken for interrogation, which lasted about four hours, after which he was released under recognisance agreement. Three days later he was fired. His boss said: “We don’t need problems.”
By Guest Indiana
The ban on Jehovah's Witnesses* as a religious organization is no basis for persecuting for faith, but law enforcers ignore it, Maxim Pervunin, a lawyer for four Dagestani believers, has stated at a press conference today. He pointed to parallels of persecutions of Jehovah's Witnesses in modern Russia with the Soviet-time practices.
The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on June 1, searches were conducted in four cities of Dagestan. Law enforcers detained and placed behind bars four Jehovah's Witnesses, Arsen Abdullaev, Maria Karpova, Anton Dergalyov and Marat Abdulgalimov. Their relatives and friends claim that charges of extremism have been brought against peace-loving and law-abiding people.
In modern Russia, the persecution history of Jehovah's Witnesses in the Soviet Union is repeated, Maxim Pervunin said at a press conference. He has noted that the methodology for proving guilt, which is now used by investigative bodies, remains largely the same. However, Mr Pervunin expressed hope that in future believers will be rehabilitated, as it already happened in the USSR.
By Guest Indiana
A court in Poland has refused to extradite former vice president of corporate finance at Probusinessbank, Yaroslav Alekseev, to Russia. According to Vedomosti with reference to the local TVP Info channel, the judge considered that Alekseev’s extradition was legally unacceptable, since he was a member of Jehovah's Witnesses, and its members get prosecuted, arrested and sentenced to long terms in Russia.
Jehovah's Witnesses is recognized as extremist and banned in Russia. In September, the US State Department imposed sanctions against two Surgut investigators, who were believed to have used torture against some of the organization members.
Alekseev was detained in Poland in February 2019. The decision to arrest the banker in absentia was made by the Basmanny court of the capital in 2017 on charges of embezzlement or larceny on a particularly large scale.
By Guest Indiana
Russia has widened a crackdown against Jehovah’s Witnesses, jailing six adherents of the Christian denomination for extremism in a move rights activists said was unjust and flouted religious freedom. Russia moves to label Jehovah Witnesses extremists A regional court in Saratov jailed six Jehovah’s Witnesses on Thursday for up to three-and-a-half years, a court spokeswoman said on Friday. “Yes they were convicted,” the spokeswoman, Olga Pirueva, said. “Punishments ranged from three years and six months down to two years (in jail).” The court found the six men guilty of continuing the activities of an extremist organization, a reference to a 2017 ruling from Russia’s Supreme Court which found the group to be an “extremist” organisation and ordered it to disband, Reuters reported. The US-headquartered Jehovah’s Witnesses have been under pressure for years in Russia, where the dominant Orthodox Church is championed by President Vladimir Putin. Orthodox scholars have cast them as a dangerous foreign sect that erodes state institutions and traditional values, allegations they reject.
Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2019/09/russia-intensifies-jehovahs-witnesses-crackdown-with-new-jailings/
JW Russia:In Saratov, Prosecution Requested Six and Seven Years of Jail for 6 Jehovah’s Witnesses. Verdict Will Be Known ShortlyBy Guest Indiana
On September 18, 2019, in the Leninsky District Court of Saratov, the prosecutor requested 7 years of prison term for Konstantin Bazhenov, Feliks Makhammadiyev and Aleksey Budenchuk and 6 years for Aleksey Miretskiy, Roman Gridasov and Gennadiy German. All of them are charged with their religious beliefs.https://jw-russia.org/en/news/19091816-1143.html
By Guest Indiana
On August 15, 2019, in the Zheleznodorozhny District Court of Khabarovsk, the criminal investigation against local resident Valery Moskalenko, 52, was completed. He faces up to six years in prison because in the spring of 2018 in a hotel conference room he allegedly talked with friends about faith in Jehovah God. The case is being heard by Judge Ivan Belykh. Debate will begin August 28. The prosecution will announce the sentence they are requesting be imposed on the believer.
German Commissioner for Global Freedom of Religion Voices Concern Over Jehovah's Witnesses in RussiaBy Guest Indiana
On May 24, 2019, Markus Grübel, the German Commissioner for Global Freedom of Religion, spoke in connection with the fact that the Russian appellate court upheld the sentence of Dennis Christensen. “I regret the decision of the court that rejected the appeal in the case of Christensen,” said Markus Grübel. “I am concerned about the situation of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia. Freedom of religion and ideology is an important human right. Every state should respect it. Religious freedom is indivisible and is valid for all religious communities.”
By Guest Indiana
Letters of support to Dennis Christensen can be sent to the Penal Colony #3 in the Kursk Region located: Primakova Street, 23A, Lgov, Kursk Region, 307754, Russian Federation. Emails are also accepted via the “FSIN-letter” system.
By Guest Indiana
The FSB has detained representatives of 15 communities of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Dagestan. They are accused of extremist activity (Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation), riadagestan.ru reports.
A large number of “propaganda items” have been seized from community members, law enforcement officials say. According to the FSB, “for several years, members of the community carried out secret meetings to study extremist literature and coordinate activities to disseminate the ideology of the organization.”
The exact number of people the special services detained on this case is not reported.
Jehovah’s Witnesses is an international religious organization with millions of adherents around the world. Jehovah’s Witnesses conduct their activities in most countries of the world. At the same time, in some countries their activity is restricted or banned (among them China, Russia, Vietnam and some Islamic countries).
Jehovah’s Witnesses organization was recognized as an extremist by the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation in 2017. Its activity in Russia is prohibited. Human rights activists believe that Jehovah’s Witnesses are persecuted solely for their religious beliefs and have repeatedly demanded that political repression against the organization be stopped.
By Guest Indiana
The law enforcers, who conducted a search of the apartment of Arsen Abdullaev, a Jehovah's Witness (the organization, recognized as extremist and banned in Russia by the court), who was arrested in Dagestan, used threats and intimidation, Suat, Arsen's wife, has stated.
The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on June 1, searches were conducted in Makhachkala, Kaspiysk, Kizlyar and Derbent, after which Jehovah's Witnesses, Arsen Abdullaev, Maria Karpova, Anton Dergalyov and Marat Abdugalimov were detained. On June 3, the court arrestedthem for two months.
Read more: https://www.eng.kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/47378/
By Guest Indiana
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has categorically condemned the arrests of Jehovah’s Witnesses and demanded that Russia immediately free the worshippers. On May 29, 2019, the opinion of the special UN investigative body was rendered in the case of Dmitriy Mikhaylov v. Russia. The arrest of Dmitriy Mikhaylov, from Shuya (Ivanovo Region), was found to be religious discrimination. The document stresses that the “findings in this opinion apply to all others in the situations similar to that of Mr. Mikhaylov.” We publish the whole document in Russian.
By Guest Indiana
Full list of 189 Jehovah's Witnesses (aged between 19 and 84) known to have been charged or named as suspects for "extremism"-related "crimes" as of 31 May 2019. Of these, 29 are in detention, 28 under house arrest and 73 under travel restrictions. Cases against three were handed to court in late May.
As of today (31 May) at least 189 Jehovah's Witnesses across Russia face criminal prosecution for exercising their freedom of religion or belief on "extremism"-related charges, which they resolutely deny. The majority are in detention, under house arrest, or under travel restrictions. Armed raids continue on Jehovah's Witness homes, and some people have been arrested at their workplaces.
Protest in support of Jehovah's Witnesses, St Petersburg, 23 March 2019
Tatyana Voltskaya (RFE/RL)
The cases against three of these individuals (in Tomsk and Polyarny) have already been completed and in late May were handed to court for trial (see below).
The number of individuals facing criminal prosecution has been steadily rising. In September 2018 it had reached about 70. In February 2019 126 Jehovah's Witnesses were facing criminal prosecutions, the majority of whom were in detention, under house arrest, or under travel restrictions.
40 women, 149 men, aged from 19 to 84
The at least 40 female and 149 male Jehovah's Witnesses all face possible prosecution under Criminal Code Article 282.2, Part 1 ("Organisation of"), or Part 2 ("Participation in") ("the activity of a social or religious association or other organisation in relation to which a court has adopted a decision legally in force on liquidation or ban on the activity in connection with the carrying out of extremist activity"), or Part 1.1 ("Inclination, recruitment or other involvement of a person in an extremist organisation"), as well as Criminal Code Article 282.3, Part 1 ("Financing of extremist activity").
The oldest and youngest facing criminal charges were born almost exactly 65 years apart. Yelena Zayshchuk, born in August 1934, is 84. Grigory Ozhiganov, born in August 1999, is 19.
Of the 189 individuals known to be facing criminal prosecution:
- 29 people (3 women, 26 men) are in pre-trial detention;
- 2 people (both men) were ordered placed in pre-trial detention and are now wanted;
- 28 people (4 women, 24 men) are under house arrest;
- 73 people (26 women, 47 men) are under travel restrictions;
- 16 people (1 woman, 15 men) are under specific sets of restrictions (such as not being allowed to go out at night or use the telephone or internet);
- 5 people (1 woman, 4 men) are under an obligation to appear before investigators promptly when summoned;
- 36 people (5 women, 31 men) appear to be under no restrictions.
Officials have had 74 of these 189 individuals added to the Federal Financial Monitoring Service (Rosfinmonitoring) "List of Terrorists and Extremists", whose assets banks are obliged to freeze, except for small transactions. (Two already convicted, Dennis Christensen and Sergei Skrynnikov, also appear on the List.) Individuals do not need to have been convicted of any crime to be added to the list.
Six people are on the Interior Ministry's federal wanted list as their whereabouts are unknown. Two are known to have left Russia.
The Russian authorities have also opened criminal cases against three Jehovah's Witnesses in Russian-occupied Crimea. Sergei Filatov and Artyom Gerasimov have been charged, while Taras Kuzio is a suspect.
Investigations follow 2017 Supreme Court ban
The investigations are a direct result of the Supreme Court's 2017 ban on Jehovah's Witness activity throughout the country, and its decision to declare the Jehovah's Witness Administrative Centre and all 395 local communities "extremist organisations". No cases stemming from the nationwide ban have yet come to trial, although several investigations have recently been completed and two trials appear imminent.
Dennis Christensen behind windows in court, 28 January 2019
Human Rights Watch [CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 US]
The registered Jehovah's Witness organisation in Oryol was earlier ruled "extremist" and ordered liquidated in June 2016. Stemming from that ban on 23 May 2019 Danish Citizen Dennis Christensen jailing for six years under Criminal Code Article 282.2, Part 1 was upheld by Oryol Appeal Court.
The prosecution stemming from the Oryol ban of Jehovah's Witness Sergei Skrynnikov which on 1 April 2019 led to him being fined fine of about a year and a half's average local wages under Criminal Code Article 282.2, Part 2. Skrynnikov's appeal is due to be heard on 13 June.
In a case launched in June 2016 before the nationwide ban, in December 2018 Arkadya Akopyan, was initially found guilty under Criminal Code Article 282, Part 1 ("Actions directed at the incitement of hatred [nenavist] or enmity [vrazhda], as well as the humiliation of an individual or group of persons on the basis of sex, race, nationality, language, origin, attitude to religion, or social group") for allegedly giving "extremist" sermons and giving out banned literature. The prosecution produced apparently false witnesses in the case. But Akopyan was later acquitted in connection with the partial decriminalisation of this offence.
Trial underway, two more trials imminent
Yury Zalipayev, remains on trial under Criminal Code Article 280, Part 1 ("Public calls for extremist activity") for allegedly distributing material "inciting hatred and enmity towards a social group, 'Christian clergy'", but Jehovah's Witnesses insist that these materials were planted by FSB security service officers during a search.
The criminal case against Sergei Klimov in Tomsk was handed to October District Court in late May. The Court told Forum 18 on 31 May that no date has yet been set for his trial to begin.
The case against two men from Polyarny in Murmansk Region - Roman Markin and Viktor Trofimov – who were interrogated at the Investigative Department of the Russian Navy's Northern Fleet's Polyarny Flotilla was handed to Polyarny District Court in late May. The Court told Forum 18 on 31 May that no date has yet been set for their trial to begin.
Stemming from the 2017 nationwide ban, the authorities have from January 2018 onwards intensively raided Jehovah's Witness homes across Russia, continuing less frequent raids that took place before Jehovah's Witnesses were banned.
Between January 2018 and May 2019, raids have taken place in the following 36 of Russia's 83 federal subjects (not counting Crimea and Sevastopol): Amur, Arkhangelsk, Republic of Bashkortostan, Belgorod, Ivanovo, Jewish Autonomous Region, Kamchatka, Kemerovo, Khabarovsk, Republic of Khakasiya, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Region, Kirov, Kostroma, Krasnoyarsk, Magadan, Republic of Mordoviya, Murmansk, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Orenburg, Oryol, Penza, Perm, Primorye, Pskov, Rostov, Republic of Sakha-Yakutiya, Sakhalin, Saratov, Smolensk, Stavropol, Sverdlovsk, Republic of Tatarstan, Tomsk, Ulyanovsk, and Volgograd.
Despite the Jehovah's Witnesses being doctrinally pacifist, the raids often involve heavily armed riot police or National Guard troops carrying machine guns. The raids are usually led by the Investigative Committee, with the FSB security service and police Centre for Combating Extremism also often participating.
The usual pattern for a raid is that officials, including armed men in masks and body armour, late at night or early in the morning arrive at Jehovah's Witnesses' homes. The occupants are sometimes made to lie on the floor or face the wall while the officers search their homes.
"We quickly got dressed, opened the door, and in a second the apartment was filled with men in black. I was just shocked," Svetlana Suvorkova, whose husband Yevgeny was arrested in Kirov in October 2018, told the jw-russia website on 11 January 2019. Suvorkov is now under house arrest.
Officials then confiscate personal possessions such as electronic devices, bank cards, personal photographs, and books. After this the Jehovah's Witnesses, including children and elderly people, are normally taken to one of the raiding agencies' buildings for questioning lasting several hours.
Detention, house arrest, travel restrictions
Most people are then released, some under travel restrictions. Others are kept in temporary detention until investigators decide whether to apply to a court for longer-term restrictive measures – they must do this within 48 hours of the initial detention.
A judge then decides whether to grant an investigator's request to place an individual in detention, under house arrest, or under travel or other restrictions.
House arrest means that an individual must remain within their home, possibly with other court-ordered restrictions, unless there is a medical reason to have treatment outside their home.
An initial period of pre-trial detention or house arrest lasts for two months from the date of arrest. Criminal cases are usually opened on or shortly before the date of the raid. Towards the end of the two months, investigators must apply to a court again if they want an extension. Detainees themselves may appeal to a higher court to have these restrictive measures lifted or reduced. Sometimes such appeals have been successful.
Detentions can be difficult for relatives to cope with, both practically and emotionally. Maksim Khalturin's father has health problems and relies largely on his support, the jw-russia.org website stated on 11 January 2019. "It is very hard for me without him. After all, I must take care of my husband alone. And I myself am 81 years old," said his mother Galina Khalturina. "For the first week I couldn't sleep at all," said Olga Korobeynikova, whose husband Vladimir is now under house arrest in Kirov. "When I wake up, there's just pain."
Prosecutions despite Supreme Court claims
Russia's Supreme Court, Moscow
Anton Naumliuk (RFE/RL)
Prosecutions of Jehovah's Witnesses are happening despite the Supreme Court' insistence when they issued the ruling that it "does not amount to prohibition of the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses as such", and despite the fact that the Russian government has twice claimed that the ban "does not contain a restriction or prohibition on individual profession of [Jehovah's Witness] teachings".
Jehovah's Witnesses point out that the Supreme Court judges' claims are not reflected in reality. "Today it has become clear that the statements of the Russian authorities before international bodies that the liquidation of Jehovah's Witness legal entities 'do not contain any restriction or prohibition on practicing these teachings' is nothing more than slyness," spokesperson Yaroslav Sivulsky commented on 23 May. "In order to convict a person for extremism and an attempt on the constitutional order, and then punish him on a par with thieves and murderers, it is enough for law enforcement authorities to prove that he believes in God in the wrong way and catch him reading the Bible."
Muslims who study the works of the late Muslim theologian Said Nursi face similar "extremism"-related prosecutions. In what appears to be a first, Yevgeny Kim, arrested in 2015 and convicted in 2017 for meeting with others to study Nursi's books, was deprived of his Russian citizenship, leaving him stateless, and on 10 April 2019 – the day he completed his prison term – was fined and ordered deported to his country of birth Uzbekistan.
Full list of 189 under criminal investigation, sentenced or on trial
Name, date of birth – date of initial arrest; date of decision to put in detention/under house arrest/under travel restrictions; charged/suspect under Criminal Code Article; whether or not on Rosfinmonitoring "List of Terrorists and Extremists"
- Pre-trial Detention
Ivanovo - Furmanovo
1) Yevgeny Andreyevich Spirin, born 24 February 1986 – arrested on 27 January 2019; detained on 28 January 2019; charged under Article 282.2, Part 1; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
2) Sergey Alekseyevich Britvin, born 18 August 1965 – arrested on 22 July 2018; detained on 24 July 2018; suspect under Article 282.2, Part 2; added to Rosfinmonitoring List on 22 November 2018
3) Vadim Anatolyevich Levchuk, born 6 February 1972 – arrested on 22 July 2018; detained on 24 July 2018; suspect under Article 282.2, Part 2; added to Rosfinmonitoring List on 22 November 2018
4) Valery Vasilyevich Moskalenko, born 15 April 1967 – arrested on 2 August 2018; detained on 3 August 2018; charged under Article 282.2, Part 2; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
5) Andrzej [Anatolyevich] Oniszczuk, Polish citizen, born 3 October 1968 – arrested on 9 October 2018; detained 12 October 2018; charged under Article 282.2, Part 1, and Article 282.3, Part 1; added to Rosfinmonitoring List on 15 November 2018
Krasnoyarsk – Sharypovo
6) Anton Olegovich Ostapenko, born 1991 – arrested on 19 April 2019; detained on 24 April 2019 for two months; Article 282.2, Part 1; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
Mordoviya – Saransk
7) Aleksandr Stanislavovich Shevchuk, born 31 August 1989 – arrested on 6 February 2019; detained no later than 8 February 2019; charged under Article 282.2, Part 1; added to Rosfinmonitoring List on 11 April 2019
😎 Yury Prokopyevich Savelyov, born 1 January 1954 – arrested on 8 November 2018; detained on 8 November 2018; charged under Article 282.2, Part 1; added to Rosfinmonitoring List on 18 December 2018
Primorye – Spassk-Dalny
9) Yury Nikolayevich Belosludtsev, born 1 May 1964 – arrested on 17 March 2019 in Luchegorsk; detained on 19 March 2019 for two months; charged under Article 282.2, Part 1 or 2; added to Rosfinmonitoring List on 30 May 2019
10) Sergei Aleksandrovich Sergeyev, born 1955 – arrested on 17 March 2019 in Luchegorsk; detained on 19 March 2019 for two months; charged under Article 282.2, Part 1 or 2; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
Primorye – Vladivostok
11) Dmitry Viktorovich Barmakin, born 30 May 1974 – arrested in Nakhodka on 28 July 2018; detained on 30 July 2018; charged under Article 282.2, Part 1; added to Rosfinmonitoring List on 14 February 2019
12) Irina Gennadyevna Buglak, born 25 January 1975 – arrested in Partizansk on 19 April 2019; detained on 20 April 2019 for two months; charged under Article 282.2, Part 1; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
13) Arsen Vilenovich Avanesov, born 1983 – arrested on 22 May 2019; detained on 26 May 2019 for two months; suspect under Article 282.2, Part 1; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
14) Vilen Shagenovich Avanesov, born 1952 – arrested on 22 May 2019; detained on 26 May 2019 for two months; suspect under Article 282.2, Part 1; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
15) Aleksandr Mikhailovich Parkov, born 1967 – arrested on 22 May 2019; detained on 26 May 2019 for two months; suspect under Article 282.2, Part 1; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
16) Yevgeny Vladimirovich Deshko, born 1989 – arrested on 29 April 2019; detained on 1 May 2019 for two months; suspect under Article 282.2, Part 2; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
17) Ruslan Nikolayevich Korolyov, born 1982 – arrested on 25 April 2019; detained on 26 April 2019 for two months; suspect under Article 282.2, Part 2; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
18) Valery Anatolyevich Shalyev, born 1977 – arrested on 25 April 2019; detained on 26 April 2019 for two months; suspect under Article 282.2, Part 2; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
19) Viktor Ivanovich Malkov, born 1959 – arrested on 25 April 2019; detained on 26 April 2019 for two months; suspect under Article 282.2, Part 2; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
20) Tatyana Stepanovna Galkevich, born 1959 – arrested on 16 May 2019; detained on 18 May 2019; charged under Article 282.2, Part 2; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
21) Valentina Ivanovna Vladimirova, born 1956 – arrested on 16 May 2019; detained on 18 May 2019; charged under Article 282.2, Part 2; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
Stavropol – Neftekumsk
22) Aleksandr Andreyevich Akopov, born 4 November 1992 – arrested on 9 December 2018; detained on 12 December 2018; charged under Article 282.2, Part 1; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
23) Konstantin Valeryevich Samsonov, born 8 April 1977 – arrested on 9 December 2018; detained on 12 December 2018; charged under Article 282.2, Part 1; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
24) Shamil Shapiyevich Sultanov, born 16 March 1977 – arrested on 9 December 2018; detained on 12 December 2018; charged under Article 282.2, Part 1; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
25) Sergey Gennadyevich Klimov, born 26 March 1970 – arrested on 3 June 2018; detained on 5 June 2018; charged under Article 282.2, Part 1; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
26) Sergei Nikolayevich Melnik, born 1972 – arrested on 16 May 2019; detained on 18 May 2019; suspect under Article 282.2, Part 2; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
27) Vyacheslav Ivanovich Osipov, born 1970 – arrested on 16 May 2019; detained on 18 May 2019; suspect under Article 282.2, Part 2; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
28) Valery Anatolyevich Rogozin, born 1962 – arrested on 16 May 2019; detained on 18 May 2019; suspect under Article 282.2, Part 2; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
29) Igor Artyomovich Yegozaryan, born 1965 – arrested on 16 May 2019; detained on 18 May 2019; suspect under Article 282.2, Part 2; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
- Pre-trial Detention ordered in absentia
1) Vitaly Gennadyevich Maksimov, born 27 December 1980 – detention ordered in absentia (on wanted list); charged under Article 282.2, Part 2; added to Rosfinmonitoring List on 20 September 2018
2) Dmitry Andreyevich Prikhodko, born 17 March 1986 – detention ordered in absentia (on wanted list); charged under Article 282.2, Part 2; added to Rosfinmonitoring List on 20 September 2018
- House Arrest
Kemerovo – Berezyovsky
1) Khasan Abduvaitovich Kogut, born 7 May 1983 – arrested on 6 February 2019 on being summoned to FSB office; detained for 48 hours then put under house arrest on 8 February 2019; charged under Article 282.2, Part 2; added to Rosfinmonitoring List on 28 February 2019
2) Vladimir Aleksandrovich Korobeynikov, born 14 December 1952 – arrested on 9 October 2018; detained on 12 October 2018; put under house arrest on 1 February 2019; charged under Article 282.2, Part 1, and Article 282.3, Part 1; added to Rosfinmonitoring List on 15 November 2018
3) Maksim Valeryevich Khalturin, born 3 September 1974 – arrested on 9 October 2018; detained on 12 October 2018; put under house arrest on 1 February 2019; charged under Article 282.2, Part 1, and Article 282.3, Part 1; added to Rosfinmonitoring List on 15 November 2018
4) Andrei Sergeyevich Suvorkov, 26 February 1993 – arrested on 9 October 2018; detained on 12 October 2018; put under house arrest on 1 February 2019; charged under Article 282.2, Part 1, and Article 282.3, Part 1; added to Rosfinmonitoring List on 15 November 2018
5) Yevgeny Anatolyevich Suvorkov, born 3 February 1978 – arrested on 9 October 2018; detained 12 October 2018; put under house arrest on 28 March 2019; charged under Article 282.2, Part 1, and Article 282.3, Part 1; added to Rosfinmonitoring List on 15 November 2018
6) Stanislav Viktorovich Kim, born 5 July 1968 – arrested on 10 November 2018; detained on 12 November 2018; placed under house arrest on 30 January 2019; charged under Article 282.2, Part 1; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
7) Vitaly Vyacheslavovich Zhuk, born 8 April 1972 – arrested 10 November 2018; detained 12 November 2018; placed under house arrest on 14 January 2019; charged under Article 282.2, Part 1; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
😎 Nikolai Yuryevich Polevodov, born 10 February 1970 – arrested on 10 November 2018; detained on 12 November 2018; placed under house arrest on 14 January 2019; charged under Article 282.2, Part 1; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Region – Uray
9) Andrey Vladimirovich Sazonov, born 1980 – arrested on 6 February 2019; detained on 8 February 2019; put under house arrest on 26 February 2019; charged under Article 282.2, Part 1; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
10) Yevgeny Nikolayevich Kayrak, born 1986 – arrested on 15 February 2019 and detained for 48 hours; put under house arrest on 24 March 2019; suspect under Article 282.2, Part 1 or 2; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
11) Andrei Garafetanovich Stupnikov, born 17 September 1973 – arrested on 3 July 2018; detained on 4 July 2018; put under house arrest on 1 March 2019; charged under Article 282.2, Part 1; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
12) Aleksandr Ivanovich Seryodkin, born 1 December 1954 – arrested on 19 April 2019; put under house arrest on 21 April 2019; charged under Article 282.2, Part 1; added to Rosfinmonitoring List on 8 May 2019
13) Valery Vladimirovich Maletskov, born 13 September 1974 – arrested on 19 April 2019 and detained for 1 day; put under house arrest on 21 April 2019; charged under Article 282.2, Part 2; added to Rosfinmonitoring List on 8 May 2019
14) Vladimir Aleksandrovich Kulyasov, born 17 April 1974 – arrested on 15 July 2018 and detained for 48 hours; put under house arrest on 17 July 2018; charged under Article 282.2, Part 2; added to Rosfinmonitoring List on 6 September 2018
15) Andrei Aleksandrovich Magliv, born 20 June 1984 – arrested on 15 July 2018 and detained for 48 hours; put under house arrest on 17 July 2018; charged under Article 282.2, Part 2; added to Rosfinmonitoring List on 6 September 2018
16) Denis Vladimirovich Timoshin, born 23 March 1980 – arrested on 15 July 2018 and detained for 48 hours; put under house arrest on 17 July 2018; charged under Article 282.2, Part 2; added to Rosfinmonitoring List on 6 September 2018
17) Vladimir Aleksandrovich Alushkin, born 30 June 1964 – arrested on 15 July 2018; detained on 17 July 2018; put under house arrest on 14 January 2019; charged under Article 282.2, Part 1; added to Rosfinmonitoring List on 6 September 2018
Primorye – Spassk-Dalny
18) Dmitry Yuryevich Malyovany, born 24 April 1990 – arrested 25 November 2018 and detained for 48 hours; put under house arrest on 27 November 2018; charged under Article 282.2, Part 1; added to Rosfinmonitoring List on 14 February 2019
19) Olga Alekseyevna Opaleva, born 22 April 1952 – arrested 25 November 2018 and detained for 48 hours; put under house arrest on 27 November 2018; suspect under Article 282.2, Part 1; added to Rosfinmonitoring List on 14 February 2019
20) Olga Aleksandrovna Panyuta, born 11 June 1959 – arrested 25 November 2018 and detained for 48 hours; put under house arrest on 27 November 2018; charged under Article 282.2, Part 1.1; added to Rosfinmonitoring List on 14 February 2019
21) Aleksei Borisovich Trofimov, born 23 April 1959 – arrested 25 November 2018 and detained for 48 hours; put under house arrest on 27 November 2018; suspect under Article 282.2, Part 1; added to Rosfinmonitoring List on 14 February 2019
22) Natalya Igoryevna Sorokina, born 12 March 1975 – arrested in Sychyovka on 7 October 2018; detained on 9 October 2018; put under house arrest on 15 April 2019; charged under Article 282.2, Part 2; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
23) Mariya Vladimirovna Troshina, born 13 February 1977 – arrested in Sychyovka on 7 October 2018; detained on 9 October 2018; put under house arrest on 15 April 2019; charged under Article 282.2, Part 2; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
Tatarstan – Naberezhniye Chelny
24) Ilkham Shamilyevich Karimov, born 9 February 1981 – arrested on 27 May 2018; detained on 29 May 2018; put under house arrest on 2? November 2018; charged under Article 282.2, Part 1; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
25) Konstantin Viktorovich Matrashov, born 22 August 1988 arrested on 27 May 2018; detained on 29 May 2018; put under house arrest on 14 November 2018; charged under Article 282.2, Parts 1, 1.1, and 2; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
26) Vladimir Nikolayevich Myakushin, born 6 November 1987 – arrested on 27 May 2018; detained on 29 May 2018; put under house arrest on 13 November 2018; charged under Article 282.2, Parts 1, 1.1, and 2; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
27) Aydar Maratovich Yulmetyev, born August 1993 – arrested on 29 May 2018; detained on 31 May 2018; put under house arrest on 13 November 2018; charged under Article 282.2, Parts 1, 1.1, and 2; not on Rosfinmonitoring List
28) Sergei Aleksandrovich Mysin, born 21 June 1965 – arrested on 27 February 2019; detained on 28 February 2019; put under house arrest on 23 April 2019; charged under Article 282.2, Part 1; added to Rosfinmonitoring List on 6 May 2019
Read more: http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2482
By Guest Indiana
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A state agency has determined that the Montana Women's Prison discriminated against an inmate on the basis of religion.
The Billings Gazette reports that the Montana Human Rights Bureau found in February there was "reasonable cause" to believe there was discrimination against Mayson Simmons.
Simmons' complaint filed in August says the Department of Corrections and the prison in Billings violated the law by allowing inmates of other religious faiths to use a prison chapel for services while denying access to Jehovah's Witnesses.
The bureau says it did not find sufficient evidence to back up Simmons' claims she was denied a Jehovah's Witness bible or that she was discriminated against based on her gender and a disability.
Prison officials deny any discrimination occurred.
The case will proceed to a formal hearing.
RUSSIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT AGREES THAT WEBSITE MAY BE RULED EXTREMIST FOR CONTENTS OF A SINGLE PAGE.
Lenizdat.ru, 31 January 2016
A decision about ruling a website to be extremist on the basis of materials that are contained on only one of its pages does not violate the constitution. The Constitutional Court of the RF came to this conclusion. A similar conclusion had already been made previously by the Supreme Court.
The decision was made in response to an appeal by the company Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York (it conducts economic affairs of the Jehovah's Witnesses). The organization is also known as the Watchtower Society.
In December 2014 a number of Jehovah's Witnesses' materials were ruled by the Supreme Court to be extremist. The topic involved three books: "What does the Bible really teach?" "Draw near to Jehovah," and "Come, follow me." In addition, the decision applied to the entire website of the organization, jw.org, as a whole.
"Recognizing as extremist only a portion of informational materials of an Internet site does not eliminate the threat of subsequent posting on it of similar materials," the court's decision says.
Representatives of the Watchtower Society tried to challenge this position in the Constitutional Court, but, according to a report from Fontanka.ru, it was unsuccessful.
"Not only individual informational materials posted on the Internet network and pages of the site on the Internet network may be ruled extremist, but also the entire website as a whole. The disputed legal regulation, conditioned on the necessity of guaranteeing the security of the state and the protection of the rights and liberties of an unrestricted circle of persons, may not be viewed as violating the constitutional rights of the plaintiff," the Constitutional Court's decision says.
We recall that this is not the first instance when Jehovah's Witnesses have challenged the decisions of Russian courts. In 2004, a court in Moscow disbanded their congregation and forbade its activity. The congregation was found guilty specifically of recruitment of children, encouraging believers to break with their families, and encouraging suicide and rejection of medical care.
In 2010 the European Court for Human Rights found this decision of the court illegal and required Russia to pay the victims 70 thousand Euros.
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REJECTS APPEAL OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES ON MECHANISM OF PROHIBITION OF WEBSITES FOR EXTREMISM
SOVA Center for News and Analysis, 1 February 2016
The Constitutional Court denied the Jehovah's Witnesses who were challenging several provisions of Russian laws on combating extremist activity and on information.
On 13 November 2015 the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York (the parent structure of Jehovah's Witnesses, registered in the USA) filed an appeal in the Russian Constitutional Court against provisions of federal laws "On combating extremist activity" and "On information, information technology and on protection of information." The reason for this was the confirmation by the Supreme Court of the prohibition of the official website of Jehovah's Witnesses, which was imposed by the Central district court of Tver in September 2013.
In the appeal Jehovah's Witnesses asked the court to examine the constitutionality of a number of provisions of laws which were the bases of the decision of the Tver court and the Supreme Court. First, the decision, referring to part 3 of article 1 and article 13 of the law "On combating extremist actions" pointed out that the law does not apply to foreign organizations and ruling a website as extremist does not affect the rights and legal interests of the foreign Watchtower Society, and thus its involvement in the trial is not required. In the opinion of the plaintiff such a procedure violates the principle of equality of all before the law and the court and it violates the constitutional rights of foreign organizations to protection of intellectual property and to judicial defense.
This position is supported by the conclusions of an expert analysis that was conducted by the senior scientific associate of the Institute of State and Law of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Irina Lukianova. Non-involvement in the trial of the Watchtower Society is, in the final analysis, a violation of the right to fair trial (article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights) and the reversal by the Supreme Court of the decision made on the results of an investigation with the participation of the owner of the website is evidence of the violation of the right to effective restoration of rights (article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), the expert indicated.
Second, according to the provisions of the same articles, it is permitted to consider a whole website to be extremist, even if only a few materials considered to be extremist are posted on it. In reviewing the case of the Jehovah's Witnesses' website, the Supreme Court pointed out that its "partial" recognition as extremist "implies a threat of further distribution" of extremist information on it, although the prohibited materials at that moment had been removed from the website. At the same time, a ban on a variety of materials on the largest social networks, which are much more popular than the Jehovah's Witnesses' site, does not lead to the blocking of social networks as a whole. Finally, the law does not at all define in which cases it is necessary to prohibit whole websites by court order and in which cases it is necessary to prohibit individual pages and in which cases blocking is done out-of-court. The Jehovah's Witnesses indicate that such legal indefiniteness entails a threat of a discriminatory approach, which violates the rights and liberties of citizens guaranteed by the constitution.
Third, the appeal points out that the laws do not contain procedures for removal of a website from the register of prohibited websites and the federal list of extremist materials, which leads to the restriction of freedom of speech.
On 22 December 2015, the Constitutional Court issued a decision on the Jehovah's Witnesses' appeal. It says, specifically, that "recognition of a website on the Internet to be extremist on the whole is possible both in the case of systematic posting on it of extremist materials and in the case where such a site was specifically created by a public or religious association or another organization which are considered to be extremist and whose activity is prohibited on the territory of the Russian federation for the purpose of disseminating information of an extremist nature." At the same time the Constitutional Court clarified that "in resolving the issues of recognizing material on an Internet site or a part of it to be extremist, the court should take into account the basic principles established by the federal legislature for combating extremist activity and proceed from the necessity of using the most effective way of combating extremism in the actual circumstances established by it, including removal of the causes and conditions facilitating the mass distribution of information that has previously been ruled to be extremist." As regards the removal of websites considered extremist from the federal list of extremist materials and from the integrated automated information system, as connected with overcoming the finality of judicial actions that have taken legal effect, the Constitutional Court limited itself to the consideration that it "is possible within the procedure provided by procedural legislation, . . . while the contested legal provisions, just like other norms of the said federal laws, do not establish the procedure of judicial investigation, including determining the participants of such an investigation and their procedural status." Thus the appeal was denied and important questions of the implementation of the law raised in it were left without an answer.
Prosecutor's lawsuit to declare Jehovah's Witnesses extremist
PROVINCIAL COURT BEGINS CONSIDERATION OF CASE OF LOCAL JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES
by Evgeny Filippov
BelPressa [Belgorod], 2 February 2016
The prosecutor of Belgorod province filed in court a lawsuit for ruling the religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses of Belgorod extremist and for its liquidation and removal from the register of the Ministry of Justice.
Representatives of the prosecutor's office consider that it is necessary to liquidate the religious organization in accordance with article 9 of the federal law "On combating extremist activity."
During the session on 2 February, Judge Irina Naumova of the Belgorod provincial court received a number of petitions from participants in the trial.
"I ask the court to attach to the case religious brochures 'Sacred Scripture—New World Translation' on the last page of which there is a reference to an Internet resource that is prohibited in our country," the deputy chief of the department of the prosecutor's office of the province, Valentina Brigadina, petitioned. "In addition, it is necessary to attach the brochure 'How to recognize true Christians' as extremist material that is contained in the federal list of the Ministry of Justice. And also 'Armageddon. What is it? When will it come?' ,'Is Satan real?', and 'Music. How does it affect you?', as publications referring readers to an Internet link that is included in the list of extremist materials."
Representatives of the regional prosecutor's office also petitioned for summoning and questioning seven witnesses who, in their opinion, have suffered from the activity of Jehovah's Witnesses.
Lawyers for the defendant—the leader of the Belgorod religious organization, Alexander Shchendrygin—did not agree with the representatives of the plaintiff and asked the court not to attach to the case the religious brochures cited above, as they have nothing to do with the substance of the lawsuit.
"Several editions of the book 'Sacred Scripture—New World Translation' exist and I do not know just which the side of representatives of the provincial prosecutor's office is talking about," the attorney of the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, Anton Omelchenko, noted. "So far as I know, there is no reference in the brochure to websites that are banned in Russia."
In addition the side of the defense filed more than ten petitions: from attachment of documents confirming the harmlessness for society of the religious teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses to summons to court of activists of the local religious congregation. Most of the petitions of the defendant were rejected by the court. The trial will continue on 3 February.
This is not the first instance when Belgorod Jehovists faced such accusations. In March 2015, by decision of the October district court of Belgorod, religious brochures "The Son wants to reveal the Father" and "Was life created?" were ruled to be extremist literature.
On 5 February, the Belgorod provincial court will begin consideration of a similar lawsuit, but against the religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses of Stary Oskol.
By Guest Indiana
HELSINKI, April 17. /TASS/. Finland’s migration service has turned down the vast majority of asylum requests filed by Russian members of Jehovah’s Witnesses (outlawed in Russia), because it sees no real threat for the group’s members in their home country, the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper reported on Wednesday.
According to the paper’s sources, in 2017-2019 the Finnish authorities have received about 250 asylum requests from members of the religious organization, which Russia outlawed in 2017. To date, 90 of those requests have already been considered and only 10% received a positive response.
The requests were rejected, because the Finnish authorities “believe that Russia is a safe country” for Jehovah’s Witnesses, Helsingin Sanomat said.
Jehovah’s Witnesses is an international religious organization that supports offbeat views on the essence of the Christian faith and provides special interpretations of many commonly accepted notions.
In August 2017, the Russian Justice Ministry included the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization and its 395 local religious branches to the list of organizations that are outlawed nationwide. The Russian Supreme Court satisfied the claim of the Justice Ministry to shut down the organization on April 20, 2017.
JW Zimbabwe: Tragedy As Minor’s Leg Rots Off, Hangs On To Dear Life As Parents Refuse Blood Transfusion Due To Religious Beliefs [UPDATED]By Guest Indiana
In a very sad case, a seven-year-old boy from Bulawayo is reported to have lost his leg because his parents are refusing to allow him to have a blood transfusion because of their religious beliefs.
According to the Sunday News, the 7-year-old (name withheld for ethical reasons) suffered a cancerous tumour on his left leg which saw him being admitted at United Bulawayo Hospitals. Doctors initially prescribed a blood transfusion as part of his treatment but his parents who are staunch Jehovah’s Witnesses refused the transfusion arguing that it was against their religious beliefs.
Sources from the hospital who spoke to Sunday News said,
The boy is not producing blood and the wound is not healing. A few weeks ago his leg fell off on its own, as it was rotting and was dry. Right now he is only receiving medicine to assist him to generate blood but it appears to be futile. His parents refused him to undergo a blood transfusion, saying it was against their church doctrine.
We are not God and neither do we have the ability to see into the future but the boy doesn’t have much time to live.
The minor’s mother is reported to have mounted guard at his bedside to ensure that the hospital does not go against their wishes. UBH clinical director Dr Narcisius Dzvanga confirmed the issue telling the Sunday News,
It is their religion and as a hospital, we respect their wishes. The boy is getting injections to help generate blood but his parents are adamant about getting a blood transfusion. As doctors, we cannot determine much on the boy’s life.
An earlier version of this article erroneously said that the parents are staunch Seventh Day Adventists. We apologise sincerely for this error because the parents are actually members of Jehovah’s Witness. Again, we would like to unreservedly apologise for the earlier error.
By Guest Indiana
The FC Cincinnati stadium site in the West End is growing to the north, increasing its footprint to approximately 16 acres, new plans show.
The team is in the process of working with the Port Authority, who will own the stadium, to acquire John Street land where the Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom Hall now sits. The new area also includes two properties on the south side of Wade Street, all of which is just north of the currently-approved stadium site.
The Wade Street properties were thrust into the spotlight last week when residents in one of the buildings complained about being pushed out, including 99-year-old Mary Page. The team has agreed to help Page relocate.
Read more: https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/politics/2019/04/15/fc-cincinnati-stadium-site-expands-jehovahs-witnesses-property/3451867002/
Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom Hall in the West End on Monday, April 15, 2019. FC Cincinnati is in the process of buying it, which will allow them to expand the stadium site to the north. (Photo: Albert Cesare / The Enquirer)
Estonia cancels visas of Russian television journalists over a discriminatory film about Jehovah WitnessesBy Guest Indiana
Estonia has banned two “Russia 1” journalists, Elena Erofeeva and Pavel Kostrikov, from entering the Schengen zone for the next five years because of a film about the religious organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses, reported the Estonian Public Broadcasting Corporation, referencing the annual report of the country's security police.
The report states that the journalists had obtained their visas at the Italian and French embassies. They first went to Finland and then took a ferry to Estonia to begin preparing an item for the program “Vesti” that “mocks and incites hostility towards the activities of this religious organization”.
According to the Estonian special services division, the journalists had used hidden cameras to videotape the Jehovah's Witnesses community in Kesklinn, Tallinn. The clip was used in a report that included shots of “a similar nature” taken in Finland.
The Estonian police claimed that Erofeeva and Kostrikov’s activities could be interpreted as discrimination on the basis of religion and could lead to the incitement of hostilities
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