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  1. A Russian judge on Friday imposed an eight-year suspended prison sentence for a 24-year-old Jehovah’s Witness and a seven-year suspended sentence for his 27-year-old wife, capping a week that marked some relief amid continued persecution for the faith in Russia. An international spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses expressed gratitude that “this young couple will not need to be separated by prison bars” after the judge’s decision in Kostroma, 200 miles northeast of Moscow. The conviction comes a day after another judge in Ulyanovsk, on the Volga River, convicted six members of the persecuted
  2. (RNS) — A day after a Jehovah’s Witness became the first to be acquitted in Russia since a 2017 ruling declared his faith group “extremist,” six Russian members received suspended sentences for gathering for worship. The developments come a week after dozens of scholars from across the globe called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to end persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The pacifist faith organization said six men and women were given suspended sentences ranging from 2 ½ to four years; in addition, they were given orders of “restricted freedom” from seven to 10 months in a cour
  3. When the knock came at the door at six in the morning, Sergei and Maria Silaev feared the worst. The couple first thought it was the Russian police, coming to arrest them for being Jehovah’s Witnesses. But it was the upstairs neighbour, telling them there was a water leak above their apartment. They were relieved, but after that had many anxious nights. "I couldn’t sleep," said Maria. From that moment on they knew they needed to leave Russia. The Silaevs life changed in 2017 when the Russian Supreme Court labelled their church an extremist organization and banned all Jehova
  4. A group of 50 religion scholars from around the world is calling on President Vladimir Putin and his administration to end the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. The scholars' statement, released Thursday, follows the Center for Studies on New Religions’ one-day conference, “Jehovah’s Witnesses and Their Opponents: Russia, the West, and Beyond,” held online from Vilnius, Lithuania, in early September. “As institutions and individuals concerned with religious freedom, we have followed the events in Russia with increasing alarm,” the CESNUR statement reads. Among those
  5. A day after the Russian FSB carried out armed searches in occupied Sevastopol, four Jehovah’s Witnesses have been arrested and remanded in custody for two months. Although Yevhen Zhukov; Volodymyr Maladyka; Volodymyr Sakada and Ihor Schmidt are accused of ‘organizing the work of an extremist organization’ (under Article 282.2 § 1 of Russia’s criminal code), the charges pertain solely to their peaceful practising of their faith, and all are undoubtedly political prisoners. Early on 1 October, the FSB and other enforcement officers burst into the homes of nine Jehovah’s Witnesses in Sevast
  6. The report details human rights violations in Crimea by the Russian occupying power against Crimean Tatars, including torture, forced confessions and the suppression of religious practice for several groups, including Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims and Messianic groups. Ukraine’s First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Emine Dzhaparova corroborates the U.N. report. As a Crimean Tartar herself, she is particularly critical of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and of its alleged repressive actions to shut down the voices of dissent.
  • September 17, 2020 (Family Research Council) — When Seo Jin Wook met with a small group in a private home in Izhevsk, Russia to share the gospel with them, he had no idea it would lead to his deportation and an approximately $400 fine by the Russian government. Yet, under a so-called "anti-extremism" law passed in 2016, this is the new normal for religious people in Russia looking to share their faith. The vague nature of the law means anyone is at risk of violating it. Earlier this month, Nikita Glazunov was fined by a court in Kazan, Russia for organizing a Catholic Mass in a hotel
  • As part of the case, ten people are suspected of running a local religious organization affiliated with Jehovah’s Witnesses VORONEZH, July 15. /TASS/. The Leninsky District Court in the Central Russian city of Voronezh ruled to place in custody until September members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious organization, outlawed in Russia, the court’s press service said on Tuesday. "The court has chosen a pretrial custody for 1 month and 22 days, or until 03.09.2020 <...> as a measure of pretrial restraint for the individuals suspected of extremist activity," the statement says.
  • Acourt in Russia has convicted and fined a Jehovah's Witnesses follower amid growing global concern over a campaign of persecution in the country against adherents of the religion. Russia's Supreme Court ruled the religion as an extremist organization in April 2017 and since then, the group has complained that authorities have raided more than 1,000 properties of its followers. There are 372 believers under criminal investigation and 43 people are in prison—including 10 who have been convicted of extremism. Yevgeniy Spirin, 34, had spent 160 days in pretrial detention and had been un
  • The United Kingdom remains deeply concerned about the situation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Russian Federation. As we said on 12 March, the ruling of the Russian Supreme Court in July 2017, which rejected the appeal against the decision to categorise Jehovah’s Witnesses as “extremists”, criminalised the peaceful worship of 175,000 Russian citizens and contravened the right to religious freedom that is enshrined in the Russian Constitution, and in multiple OSCE commitments. It is with deep regret that we learned that on 13 July, 110 homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses were simultaneously search
  • The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom publishes a document against Russian anti-cultist Alexander Dvorkin and his organization FECRIS, both supporters of religious persecution in China. On July 17, 2020, the USCIRF, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, unveiled a new document, whose title is “The Anti-cult Movement and Religious Regulation in Russia and the Former Soviet Union.” The USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). Its Commissioners are appointed b
  • Russian authorities have detained a man in western Siberia “on suspicion of setting up a cell” of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious group, considered an “extremist” organization under Russian law, state-run news agency TASS reported on Wednesday. Police detained the man recently in Seversk, a town in western Siberia’s Tomsk region. Investigators say the man and others affiliated with Jehovah’s Witnesses “organized meetings in 2017-2020, disseminated ‘extremist’ literature, and recruited new members” to the organization. In a statement released on Wednesday, the Russian Investigative
  • Russian authorities armed with assault rifles raided 110 homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Voronezh Region on July 13, 2020, according to an official press release by the Voronezh Region Investigative Committee. This is the largest series of raids conducted in one day on Jehovah’s Witnesses in modern Russia. Preliminary reports from my colleagues indicates that at least two Witnesses were beaten. Some Witnesses reported that when the officers stormed into their houses to conduct the searches, they would force people to the ground and press their faces to the floor. Additionally, the law
  • Article 6 of the Russian Constitution states that individuals cannot be stripped of their citizenship. Kim (and, more recently, two jailed Jehovah's Witnesses), however, was deprived of his Russian citizenship on the basis of an amendment to Article 22 of the 2002 Citizenship Law which entered legal force on 1 September 2017. Article 22 states that citizenship can be annulled if it was awarded on the basis of forged documents or "false information". The 2017 amendment added that conviction under particular articles of the Criminal Code, including Article 282.2 ("Organising" or "Partic
  • In the third jailing in Russian-occupied Crimea on "extremism" charges to punish the exercise of freedom of religion and belief, Jehovah's Witness Artyom Gerasimov was jailed for six years after a prosecutor appealed against an earlier fine. Jailed earlier were Muslim Renat Suleimanov for four years and Jehovah's Witness Sergei Filatov for six years. Like Suleimanov and Filatov, Gerasimov expects to be sent to a prison in Russia. For the third time, a court in Russian-occupied Crimea has jailed an individual on "extremism" charges to punish the exercise of freedom of religion or belief. A
  • Today the Crimean Supreme Court sentenced Artem Gerasimov to six years in prison for his peaceful Christian worship as one of Jehovah's Witnesses. He was seeking acquittal from his original sentence by the Yalta City Court, which was a fine for 400,000 rubles. Today's ruling immediately came into force and Artem was taken into custody. Jarrod Lopes, spokesman for Jehovah's Witnesses, states: "Today's ruling by the Crimean Supreme Court brings religious persecution to a new level of cruelty. Since the 2017 Russian Supreme Court's ruling that effectively banned Jehovah's Witn
  • A Russian-controlled ‘court’ in occupied Crimea has rejected the appeal brought by Serhiy Filatov, a 47-year-old Jehovah’s Witness from Dzhankoy, against his six-year prison sentence for practising his faith. Russia has now not only reinstated Soviet persecution of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but is breaching international law by applying such repressive measures on illegally occupied territory. The hearing before ‘judge’ Edward Belousov, of the Crimean High Court, was held on 26 May behind closed doors. This was due to restrictions over the pandemic but did mean that Filatov, who took par
  • On May 6, 2020, the UN Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention prepared a decision concerning 18 believers in Russia. The Group considers the cases brought against them to be unlawful, urges authorities to immediately release those arrested, in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, and to “take appropriate measures against those responsible for the violation of their rights.” The authoritative UN body considered the complaint of eighteen Russian believers from Volgograd, Kemerovo, Smolensk, Penza, Perm and Novozybkov. Ten of them were arrested and detained in the pre-tr
  • Of the 87 Jehovah's Witnesses on trial in 39 cases for "continuing the activities of a banned extremist organisation" for exercising freedom of religion or belief, 85-year-old Yelena Zayshchuk is the oldest. Five fellow defendants in her case are in their sixties or seventies. All face up to six years' imprisonment if convicted. Two defendants in their sixties died in April before trials began. At least 18 of the 87 Jehovah's Witnesses on trial on charges of "continuing the activities of a banned extremist organisation" for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief are in th
  • Aleksandr is married, has two daughters and eight grandchildren. He has two accreditations. He mastered the trades of lathe worker, forging and manufacturing; worked as a lumberjack and as an engineer. Having become a Christian, Aleksandr Ivshin refused to participate in military training. Now he is under persecution as an ”extremist.”
  • According to data on May 4, 2020, Feliks Makhammadiyev, who had a damaged lung, is recovering in the prison hospital; the threat to life has passed. Believers Budenchuk, Miretskiy, Gridasov and German also report feeling better. They are forced to work ten hours a day.
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  • More than 4,000 prisoners of concentration camps wore purple triangles on their chests. Because of their faith, they refused to salute Hitler, pick up weapons and fight. On the 75th anniversary of the liberation, the peace-loving Jehovah’s Witnesses are again in prison, this time in Russia. How did the liberating country become an oppressor?
  • According to tabulations April 20, 2020, three years after the liquidation of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ communities, 332 people became victims of criminal prosecution, 166 of these undergoing imprisonment. These are honest, non-drinking workers: teachers, builders, firefighters, accountants, lawyers. Authorities ruin their career, paralyze their life. From left to right, top to bottom: Galina Dergacheva, Sergey Loginov, Igor Trifonov, Galina Parkova, Vitaliy Popov, Elena Nikulina, Dmitriy Vinogradov, Maksim Amosov
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  • In the morning of April 29, 2020, groups of armed security forces invaded at least seven homes of residents of Pavlovskaya and Kholmskaya villages for searches and interrogations, exposing believers to the risk of infection during the pandemic. A 62-year-old believer was taken to Krasnodar for interrogation, and a written recognizance not to leave the place was taken. Illustrative photo
  • The April 1st verdict to the believer — a husband and father of two children — provides a list of material evidence by which one can judge the nature of his ‘crime’: “Religious cards; religious games; envelope with religious pictures; Bible domino; folder with Bible comics; box with postcards.”
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