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Poland refuses to extradite banker to Russia because he is Jehovah's Witnesses member

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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.

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      2006 - AND THE ENFORCEMENT OF U.N. RESOLUTION - A/RES/60/288

       

      In September 2006 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a GLOBAL COUNTER-TERRORISM STRATEGY resolution (A/RES/60/288).  Although not a binding resolution, it was hailed as a landmark U.N. plan of action designed to enhance national, regional and international efforts to counter terrorism. (See page 1, 2 of 60/288)   Please note that this resolution began to link the combating of religious intolerance, discrimination and defamation with counter-terrorist initiatives.  Governments involved would report back to the U.N. on the progress made in regards to its implementation.   In “Pillar 1”, this resolution outlined several “MEASURES TO ADDRESS THE CONDITIONS CONDUCIVE TO THE SPREAD OF TERRORISM”.  Please note some of these measures:

       

      We resolve to undertake the following measures aimed at addressing the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, including  . . . religious discrimination

       

      2. To continue to arrange under the auspices of the United Nations initiatives and programs to promote dialogue, tolerance and understanding among civilizations, cultures, peoples and religions, and to promote mutual respect for and prevent the defamation of religions, religious values, beliefs and cultures.

       

      3. To promote a culture of peace, justice and human development, ethnic, national and religious tolerance and respect for all religions, religious values, beliefs or cultures by establishing and encouraging, as appropriate, education and public awareness programs involving all sectors of society. In this regard, we encourage the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to play a key role, including through inter-faith and intra-faith dialogue and dialogue among civilizations;

       

      Progress reports of the countries that implemented 60/288 can be found on the UN website.  For example:  There is a 2010 U.N. progress report entitled “With Consensus Resolution, General Assembly Reiterates Unequivocal Condemnation of Terrorism, Reaffirms Support for 2006 UN Global Counterterrorism Strategy” (GA/10977).   Also there is a 2014 report entitled “Activities of the United Nations system in implementing the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy” (A/68/841) that can be found on that website.   As you view these documents notice how the “engagement of civil society” was part of that implementation strategy. (See page 2 of GA/10977)

       

      Democratic Western powers including America implemented the GLOBAL COUNTER-TERRORISM STRATEGY (A/RES/60/288) as can be seen in the documents cites above, but they repeatedly rejected the need to “prevent  defamation of religions, religious values, beliefs and cultures” as a means to combat conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism.  For example in a speech given in September 2012 by America’s National Security Advisor Denis McDonough on “International Religious Freedom” (See page 7, 12-13 “Remarks by Denis McDonough on International Religious Freedom | whitehouse.gov”) he summed up how these types of resolutions “sought to penalize defamation which undermined free speech and expression”.  Also The Mission of the United States Geneva press statement by Hillary Clinton reiterates this point. Despite these kinds of objections by Western democratic governments, the U.N. continued to support counter terrorism measures to prevent religious defamation. 

       

      Consider what the Russian Federation represented by Alexander A. Pankin said at the U.N. in 2010 regarding its support for the U.N. Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.  He stated “since the United Nations Global Strategy had been adopted (in Sept 2006), the President of his country had signed a document that outlined Russia’s approach to the effective implementation of that initiative”. (Page 8)   Approximately three years later around June 2013 the Russian Federation passed laws against religious blasphemy. (See articles on Russia’s legislation of blasphemy laws)  Keep in mind that some countries in Africa, Asia, the Baltics, Europe, the East and many in the Middle East share similar religious defamation or blasphemy legislation, whether they are Christian/ Jewish Orthodox or Islamic nations.  The UN’s consideration for such countries contributed to the development of U.N. resolution 60/288 which urged the combating the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism by preventing blasphemy of religions and religious values.   

       

      2011 - THE IMPLEMENTATION OF U.N. RESOLUTION 16/18

       

      In March 2011, UN Resolution A/HRC/RES/16/18 was born as a result of Western democratic governments including Britain and the US working together with human rights organizations and religious organizations such as the “Organisation of the Islamic Conference” (Also called: Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) and the Vatican.  Although this was not a binding resolution it too was touted as a “landmark” resolution because it dropped or excluded the need to prevent “defamation” as a condition conducive to the spread of terrorism.  (See: Mission of the United States Geneva; “Joint Statement on Combating Intolerance, discrimination and violence”- July 15, 2011)

       

      Resolution A/HRC/RES/16/18 was titled:  “COMBATING INTOLERANCE, NEGATIVE STEREOTYPING AND STIGMATIZATION OF, AND DISCRIMINATION, INCITEMENT TO VIOLENCE AND VIOLENCE AGAINST, PERSONS BASED ON RELIGION OR BELIEF”.  This resolution was designed to “prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion or belief and to implement measures to guarantee the equal and effective protection of the law”. (Page 1)   However, it omitted the phrase “prevent the defamation of religions, religious values, beliefs and cultures” and called on Member States to “Understand the need to combat denigration and negative religious stereotyping of persons, as well as incitement to religious hatred”.  (page 3 [G])  Note the following conditions it addressed:

       

      ·          incidents of intolerance, discrimination and violence against persons based on their religion or belief in all regions of the world

       

      ·         any advocacy of discrimination or violence on the basis of religion or belief

       

      ·         actions that willfully exploit tensions or target individuals on the basis of their religion or belief”

       

      ·         any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, whether it involves the use of print, audio-visual or electronic media or any other means

       

      On page 2 of resolution 16/18 it makes “note” of a speech by the “Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Conference at the fifteenth session of the Human Rights Council” and “draws on his call  for states to take the following actions to foster a domestic environment of religious tolerance, peace and respect, by”:

       

      (b) Creating an appropriate mechanism within Governments to, inter alia, identify and address potential areas of tension between members of different religious communities, and assisting with conflict prevention and mediation;

      (c) Encouraging training of Government officials in effective outreach strategies;

      (d) Encouraging the efforts of leaders to discuss within their communities the causes of discrimination, and evolving strategies to counter these causes

       

      On July 15, 2011, a clarification was requested in a “Statement” by the Secretary General of the “Organization of Islamic Conference”. (Page 1, 2 of the “statement”)   He pointed out the “need to squarely address and develop a common understanding on some of the grey areas. They include the exact nature and scope of the complementarities between the freedom of opinion and expression and the prohibition of incitement to hatred on racial, national and religious grounds as stipulated in articles 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights”. (ICCPR).   The “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” is a treaty of the United Nations General Assembly that commits its signatories to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.  Likely in response to the request of the OIC, on September 12, 2011, (six months after resolution 16/18 was adopted) the U.N. Human Rights Committee issued “General comment No. 34” in regard to Article 19 of the ICCPR.   Note point 48:

       

      United Nations Human Rights Committee - “General comment No. 34” of the “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights”

      48. Prohibitions of displays of lack of respect for a religion or other belief system, including blasphemy laws, are incompatible with the Covenant, except in the specific circumstances envisaged in article 20, paragraph 2, of the Covenant. Such prohibitions must also comply with the strict requirements of article 19, paragraph 3, as well as such articles as 2, 5, 17, 18 and 26. Thus, for instance, it would be impermissible for any such laws to discriminate in favour of or against one or certain religions or belief systems, or their adherents over another, or religious believers over non-believers. Nor would it be permissible for such prohibitions to be used to prevent or punish criticism of religious leaders or commentary on religious doctrine and tenets of faith.

       

      Point 48 of “General comment No. 34” indicated that although “prohibitions of displays of lack of respect for a religion or other belief system, including blasphemy laws, are incompatible with the Covenant”, under Article 20 paragraph 2 of the Covenant there are “specific circumstances” that allow an exception that permits prohibitions on the freedom of expression such as “any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence”.  Also Article 19 paragraph 3 of the Covenant allows for the freedom of expression or assembly to be “subject to certain restrictions  . . . as provided by law and are necessary” for “the protection of national security or of public order or of public health or morals”.  For your convenience Articles 19 and 20 are provided below:

       

      International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: 

       

      Article 20 

      1.       Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law. 

       

      2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law. 

       

      Article 19

      1.       Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.

       

      2.       Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.

       

      3.       3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:

       

      (a)   For respect of the rights or reputations of others;

       

      (b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.

       

      Prior to this “The Permanent Mission of the United States of America” sent a letter to the United Nations on November 3, 2010 entitled: “UNITED STATES RESPONSE TO THE UNITED NATION OFFICE OF THE HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS CONCERNING EXPERT WORKSHOPS ON THE INCITEMENT TO NATIONAL, RACIAL OR RELIGIOUS HATRED”.  This was part of the United States contribution toward the development of resolution 16/18.  Please note that in 2010 this letter disclosed that “the United States has entered a reservation to Article 20, according to which the Article does not authorize or require legislation or other action by the United States that would restrict the right of free speech and association protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States”.  The letter pointed out that “the United States does not, therefore implement Article 20 prohibitions, in the spirit of open dialog.”  (See Pages 1-3, of the letter) 

       

      Note that the U.S. “reservation” to Article 20 favored “open dialog” rather than enacting laws that prohibit freedom of expression, however it did not make a reservation to Article 19 which could be enacted to protect national security and public order in the event of war or serious act(s) of terrorism or religious chaos.  This should help us appreciate the United States implementation of resolution 16/18 over minority religions is only a pro-active measure taken to avoid the dire conditions where freedom of expression or assembly would need to be restricted by law. 

       

      Consider this carefully, a worldwide ban of all religion is not prohibited by either Article 19 or 20, provided the reasons for such a ban are sufficient enough to warrant it.  However, in the United States and other democratic countries that reject blasphemy laws, a ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses alone or a ban on all religions except Jehovah’s Witnesses would not be in accord with these articles of the UN covenant, but a ban that restricts religious free speech equally is very possible under the right circumstances. 

       

       

      APPROACHING MINORITY RELIGIONS IN AMERICA TO IMPLEMENT U.N. RESOLUTION 16/18

       

      On December 14, 2011, at a meeting called the “Istanbul Process for Combating Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief,” Hillary Clinton then American Secretary of State revealed that “the United States has made a commitment to support the 1618 implementation efforts” and hoped to “take practical steps to engage with members of religious minority groups” in order to have “anti-discrimination laws” in America “enforced equally”.  (Remarks at the Istanbul Process for Combating Intolerance, Page 1, 3)  

      A very important report of this meeting was published entitled:  “REPORT OF THE UNITED STATES ON THE FIRST MEETING OF EXPERTS TO PROMOTE IMPLEMENTATION OF UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL RESOLUTION 16/18 – DECEMBER 2011”. Notice the opening comments of this report on page 4 which highlighted the meetings objective and its purpose: 

       

       At the invitation of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, representatives of 26 governments and four international organizations met in Washington, D.C. on December 12-14, 2011 to discuss the implementation of United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution (UNHRC) 16/18 on "Combating Intolerance, Negative Stereotyping and Stigmatization of, and Discrimination, Incitement to Violence and Violence Against, Persons Based on Religion or Belief." 

       

      The implementation meeting focused on two elements of the steps set forth in Resolution 16/18: prohibiting discrimination based on religion or belief and 2) training government officials, including on how to implement effective outreach to religious communities 

       

      The Executive Summary of the U.S. report stated: “Presenters and participants in the interactive sessions were law enforcement and anti-discrimination experts. Presenters included experts from invited countries and international organizations, as well as personnel from the United States Departments of Homeland Security and Justice”.  Please note how outreach to religious minorities was being actively demonstrated at this meeting, as reported under the subheading “PLENARY SESSION II: Roundtable Demonstration: Engagement with Religious Minority Communities in the United States”:  Pertinent excerpts are provided below:  (See page 7, 8 of the report)

       

      Description: A participant from the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) at the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) described his office’s responsibility to protect the United States from foreign and domestic threats while guaranteeing that the protection of national security is carried out without infringing upon constitutional freedoms. DHS/CRCL relies on a number of tools to accomplish this mission, including regular engagement with diverse ethnic and religious communities in cities across the United States. This session familiarized participants with DHS/CRCL’s engagement process and set the stage for subsequent discussions of engagement strategies. Participants had the opportunity to witness a re-creation of a community engagement roundtable where community stakeholders raised civil rights concerns with DHS personnel. Meeting participants were also able to ask questions of the community stakeholders and DHS personnel to propose suggestions and best practices of their own.

       

      The DHS participant continued by elaborating on the goals of the roundtable process. These include: reaching broader audiences, providing access to community events, and obtaining information about community interests and concerns. DHS/CRCL roundtables have helped assure that communities have accurate information about government policies and practices, both by conveying information to the representatives and by identifying gaps in public information.

       

      Participants from a diverse set of religious communities, civil rights advocates, and participants from the United States Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Justice, engaged in a roundtable discussion with representatives of various religious and faith-based communities as well as civil rights and civil liberties groups.

       

      The above clearly demonstrates how DOJ or affiliated agencies would use “roundtable discussion” with religious communities to “assure that communities have accurate information about government policies and practices, both by conveying information to the representatives and by identifying gaps in public information”.  (See also U.S. Report -Page 5, 19)  Note the motive for engagement with religious minorities and these roundtable discussions and is not just to protect constitutional freedoms but to protect the national security of the United States. (See U.S. Report page 7, 9, 25)  The following excerpts are found under the subheading “GOVERNMENT OUTREACH AND TRAINING INTERACTIVE SESSION II: Government engagement with communities in conflict. (U.S. Report -pages 21-22)

       

      The DHS participant noted that the United States endeavors to engage with faith communities and minority communities, especially those in which members feel alienated.  A participant from the United States Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Community Relations Service (CRS) talked about other resources that the government can offer to help communities address conflict peacefully. “While other parts of the DOJ enforce civil rights laws in the United States, DOJ/CRS works with communities in conflict to address tension associated with allegations of discrimination by facilitating dialogue, providing training, and conducting mediation.

       

      The DOJ/CRS participant stressed that his office intervenes when its services are requested, and sometimes on its own initiative if need be. The mediation agreements produced during this process are not legally enforceable, but parties may choose to issue a public statement outlining their shared commitment to take certain remedial action. DOJ/CRS conciliators are required under United States law to conduct their activities in confidence, without publicity, and are prohibited from disclosing confidential information. The participant from DOJ/CRS explained that in his experience, if an event occurs in the United States or overseas that may lead to tension in the United States, engaging early and discussing the issue with the relevant community or communities is important.

       

      As indicated in the U.S. report, in the event of a religiously motivated terrorist attack that threatens U.S. national security, the DOJ/DHS or affiliated agencies can “intervene” with relevant religious communities without being requested.  According to the report, national security concerns require the DOJ/DHS to carry out these kinds of roundtable discussions with religious minorities to provide them with pertinent information, communicate changes in policy or mediate “conflict prevention”.  In practical terms it means that after a serious terrorist event these US agencies may want the leaders of minority religions to appreciate the need to refrain from publishing something that might heighten or incite tensions, hatred or violence between faiths or religions.

       

      At this point in the research, it is important to keep in mind how the January 15, 2001 Watchtower referenced below portrayed the governing body as a representative of the faithful slave and that the resolutions being discussed in this research began to be implemented in America at a time when we still identified the faithful slave as follows:

       

      *** w01 1/15 pp. 30-31 How the Governing Body Differs From a Legal Corporation ***

       ‘The faithful slave’ has been ‘appointed over all his master’s belongings.’ These include facilities at headquarters in New York State, U.S.A., and the 110 branches now operating worldwide. The members of the slave class know that they will be called upon to render an account for the way in which they have used what has been entrusted to them. (Matthew 25:14-30) Yet, this does not prevent the ‘slave’ from allowing qualified overseers from among the “other sheep” to care for legal and administrative responsibilities. In fact, this allows members of the Governing Body to devote more time “to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”—Acts 6:4.

      As long as conditions in this world permit, the Governing Body, representing “the faithful and discreet slave,” will make use of legal entities. These are convenient, but they are not indispensable. If a legal entity is dissolved by government decree, the preaching work will still go on. Even now, in lands where restrictions are in effect and no legal entities are used, the Kingdom message is being proclaimed, disciples are being made, and theocracy’s increase continues. That is happening because Jehovah’s Witnesses plant and water, and ‘God keeps making it grow.’—1 Corinthians 3:6, 7.

      *** w01 1/15 p. 31 A Special Announcement ***

      “The faithful and discreet slave’ and its Governing Body have had entrusted to them interests that are higher and far more encompassing than those granted to legal corporations. Making a very significant point, Brother Barr stated: “Set out in the chartered purposes of each of such entities are matters that are limited in their scope. Our Master, Jesus Christ, however, has appointed the faithful slave class over all his ‘belongings, or Kingdom interests here on earth.”

       

       

      IMPOSSIBLE TO MEDIATE CONFLICT PREVENTION WITH ALL MEMBERS OF THE SLAVE CLASS 

       

       In the DHS’s resolve to protect national security, we as Jehovah’s Witnesses would not be viewed as exempt from the implementation of Resolution 16/18 or other related resolutions.  We were likely viewed as a “community in conflict” because of our position toward false religion as demonstrated by the tract “The End of False Religion is Near” proclaimed throughout the world in 2006 (Kingdom news NO. 37).  Keep in mind this tract was circulated at the time when the UN GLOBAL COUNTER-TERRORISM STRATEGY (resolution 60/288) was adopted by the UN and was beginning to be implemented by governments around the world including Britain, the EU, Russia, the United States and eastern Islamic countries.  Remember too, this UN global counter-terrorism strategy endorsed the need “to promote mutual respect for and prevent the defamation of religions, religious values, beliefs and cultures” as “measures to address the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism”.   On the other hand, UN resolution 16/18 was implemented in 2011 by the United States out of regard for its constitutional guarantees.  To ‘prevent conflict’ the US preferred dialog and discussion with any offending minority religions rather than enacting laws that prohibit freedom of expression.   

       

      At the time of the implementation of UN resolution 16/18  in 2011-2012, our publications still portrayed the anointed remnant as the faithful slave who was “appointed over” the preaching work and all legal entities and the branches including those in the U.S.   During a time of heightened national security would the DOJ/ DHS be frustrated trying to mediate “conflict prevention” with a faithful slave class made up of thousands of members with most living in other countries? 

       

      It’s only reasonable to think that in order to mediate “conflict prevention” with the faithful slave the DOJ/ DHS would have to inform the anointed remnant of such through the legal entities that were said to represent their kingdom interests.  Why hadn’t the anointed remnant heard anything about the implementation of resolution 16/18?   The w11 8/15 p. 22 Questions From Readers  briefly stated regarding the number of memorial partakers:  “We thus have no way of knowing the exact number of anointed ones on earth; nor do we need to know. The Governing Body does not keep a list of all partakers, for it does not maintain a global network of anointed ones.”  This statement indicates the United States DHS/DOJ would not be able to convey important policy information or mediate “conflict prevention” with all the individuals making up the faithful slave through the governing body.  Also American policies would have no jurisdiction over anointed ones living abroad.  

       

       

      OCTOBER 2012 - A CHANGE THAT COINCIDES WITH THE IMPLEMENTATION OF 16/18

       

      Just 10 months after “the United States had made a commitment to support  the implementation of 16/18” and demonstrated in a report how agencies of the DOJ would help in its implementation, the governing body announced the new identity of the faithful slave at the October 2012 Annual Corporate Meeting.  Ironically at the time of this announcement, the study article “Are You a Trusted Steward!” (w12/12/15 p. 9, pars 2, 3) which spoke of the “faithful steward class” in the old sense was available to read online at jw.org.  The fact that this Watchtower was posted on our website during the October 2012 Annual Corporate Meeting, helps us identify the approximate time period when the governing body decided conclusively to identify itself as the faithful slave.  It appears, this decision to change the identity of the slave occurred shortly before the w12/12/15 was finally edited, possibly around August/ September 2012.  This was likely the reason why it wasn’t until approximately six months after the 2012 Annual Corporate Meeting (around April 2013) that the July 15, 2013 Watchtower study article which detailed the change was available on our website.

       

      The July 15, 2013 Watchtower on page 23 paragraph 14 stated:  “The faithful and discreet slave is thus charged with the responsibility to manage the household of faith. That responsibility includes overseeing material assets, the preaching activity, assembly and convention programs, and the production of Bible literature for use in the field ministry and in personal and congregation study. The domestics depend on all the spiritual provisions dispensed by the composite slave.”   In Paragraphs 11-13, this Watchtower described the faithful slave as being appointed over “the domestics” since early 1919 and those domestics were identified as “all anointed ones” as well as “the other sheep.  Accordingly from early 1919 all members of the congregation were identified as part of the “belongings” the governing body was ‘appointed over’.  Reliance on this arrangement was summed up in a paragraph 2 which stated:  “It is vital that we recognize the faithful slave.  Our spiritual health and our relationship with God depend on this channel”.  

       

      In summary,  the governing body members working together as the faithful slave were identified as the ones responsible for all means of public dissemination in America and abroad; whether by print, public assembly, website or door to door.   Coincidentally, defining the faithful slave in this manner allowed for direct communication between the governing body acting as the faithful slave and federal agents of the DOJ/DHS intent on implementing UN resolution 16/18.   Through roundtable discussions with DOJ/DHS personnel, any mediation agreements reached in regard to “conflict prevention” related to U.N. resolution 16/18 could be voluntarily applied by the governing body to all methods of publicizing the good news of the kingdom, including all our literature.   Today if a major religiously motivated terrorist event occurs the DHS/DOJ can easily intervene as necessary with the new faithful slave for further “conflict prevention” with the goal of having the faithful slave volunteer to moderate public expressions even further to protect its national security and keep public order.  

       

       

      “CONFLICT PREVENTION” CREATES A CONFLICT OF INTEREST

       

      It is important to note when agencies of the DHS are involved in these roundtable discussions with representatives of minority religions “conciliators are required under United States law to conduct their activities in confidence, without publicity, and are prohibited from disclosing confidential information”.  There is strong circumstantial evidence that representatives of US federal agencies had nation security concerns in regard to their ability to communicate with an anointed remnant acting as the faithful slave.  The probability of their communicating this frustration to the governing body is very high.    

       

      For example:  Did DOJ/ DHS personnel inquire as to the identity of the faithful slave?  Were they concerned about the inability of the governing body to identify or communicate with all members of the faithful slave/remnant?  Were DOJ/ DHS personnel made aware in confidence by a few brothers that the governing body was in the process of discussing a change in the identified of the faithful slave?   Answering yes to any of these questions could indicate confidential discussions with the DHS surrounding the faithful slave may have tilted the decision in favor of the governing body identifying itself as the faithful slave. 

       

      The U.S. report states:  “The mediation agreements produced during this process are not legally enforceable, but parties may choose to issue a public statement outlining their shared commitment to take certain remedial action.”  (See page 22 of the U.S. report)  When it comes to who is responsible for what is preached, was identifying the governing body as the faithful slave part of the “remedial action” needed for “conflict prevention”?  This is very possible.  The brothers involved in these mediation agreements may not have been aware that these roundtable discussions with federal agencies involved the implementation of a UN resolution.  Still regardless of whether they were informed of this or not, the DOJ/DHS was tasked with implementing principles of resolution 16/18 over minority religion in America, including ours.  The brothers have been affected by the implementation of resolution 16/18 and its successor resolution A/RES/67/178 adopted by the UN in March 2013 in two specific ways:    

       

      #1 -A conflict of interest exists whereby the new doctrine of the faithful slave can be used to shelter governing body members from serious questions related to that doctrine.  For example: Regardless of legitimate and serious concerns or questions about the doctrinal change, elders would feel obligated to support the governing body in their decision and remove any elders who refused to teach the new doctrine.  Escalating further, anointed brothers and sisters who continue to question the change in their heart might feel forced to remain silent, otherwise if they persist in pursuing clarification before they accept the change they could be disfellowshiped as apostates.

       

      #2 - Another conflict of interest exists whereby the governing body is voluntarily involved in the implementation process of UN resolutions with US federal authorities, which restrains the governing body’s freedom of speech to inform the brothers of a connection between UN resolutions and the persecution taking place in Russia.  It also retrains their freedom of speech in helping the brothers make a possible connection between “the disgusting thing . . . standing in the holy place” and the implementation of U.N. resolutions over Jehovah’s Witnesses.  (Mt 24:15)   

       

      These two conflicts of interest are related, especially if the governing body’s decision to identify itself as the faithful slave was tilted in that direction because of confidential roundtable discussions with US federal authorities concerned about the logistics of mediating “conflict prevention” with the anointed remnant.  If anointed brothers and sisters are allowed to be disfellowshiped from the congregation for pursuing answers to serious scriptural flaws and doctrinal conflicts found in connection with this new teaching of the faithful slave, without any further clarification forthcoming, this is a telling sign of a secular influence on the decision to identify the governing body as the slave.

       

       

      SEPTEMBER 2014-  U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 2178 ACCELERATES THE PERSECUTION OF OUR BROTHERS IN RUSSIAN

       

      In September 2014 a very serious mandatory or binding U.N. Security Council Resolution 2178 was adopted by the UN in response to ISIS or the “Islamic State”.  It recognized “the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters requires comprehensively addressing underlying factors”, including “countering incitement to terrorist acts motivated by extremism or intolerance”. (Page 2 of 2178)  It’s important to note that this resolution referred back too and underlined “the need to address the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, as outlined in “Pillar 1” of the United Nations “Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy”. (Page 2 of resolution 2178)   By way of this reference the “defamation of religions, religious values, and beliefs” could be associated with “extremism” and should be prevented.  This development is at the heart of our problems in Russia from 2014 onward.  The July 2011 clarification made by the U.N. Human Rights Committee in paragraph 48 of “General Comment No. 34” did nothing to change this but seemed to justify use of national blasphemy laws to restrict all expressions critical of other religions.      

       

      Please closely consider the Russian Federation’s own description of its implementation of the U.N.  Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (60/288) in the 2014 U.N. report entitled “Activities of the United Nations system in implementing the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy”. (A/68/841 page 92, 93)  Russia reports on their ongoing efforts to “eliminate conditions fostering the spread of terrorism” and they outlined how “measures are being taken to prevent the spread of religious and political extremism as a factor contributing to the terrorist threat”.   They report that “work is under way to counter the propaganda of terrorist and extremist ideas, including the internet, as well as the dissemination of material advocating terrorist activity or defending or justifying such activity”. Clearly this effort involves the blasphemy and counter-extremism legislation which supports Russia‘s cultural policy.   These actions by Russia were surreptitiously supported by UN resolutions; particularly resolutions 60/288, 2178 and perhaps even the clarification made regarding the ICCPR on paragraph 48 of “General comment No. 34”.

       

      To speak or publish anything about the elimination of false religion including the culturally supported Russian Orthodox Church is viewed as blasphemous and “extremist” and this relates to identifying ourselves as the true religion.  Likewise to speak or publish anything that points to the elimination of human government by God’s kingdom is also considered “extremist”.    Brothers deserve to understand how U.N. resolutions along with Russian blasphemy laws are involved in this assault upon our faith in Russia.  Even though the United Nations “Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy” declares “effective counter-terrorism measures and the protection of human rights are not conflicting goals”, this research proves such a statement is confusing if not hypocritical, because non-binding U.N. resolutions have encouraged both defamation laws and dialog as ways of combating the conditions that lead to spread of terrorism . 

       

      Something else to seriously consider is how the Russian authorities were affected when they discovered that the faithful slave was now essentially a religious body subject to American policy which is divergent from Russia’s cultural policy.  This faithful slave was said to be a manager appointed over all our legal entities, the preaching activity and all the brothers as domestics, which would obviously include Russia.  As a result of this change in doctrine, they might have viewed our activities in Russia as an American influence more so than ever before.  Did identifying the governing body as the faithful slave factor into the Russia’s Supreme Court decision on April 20, 2017 to criminalize our faith as extreme?  This decision completely removed what the Russians perceived as an American influence in Russia while justifying their actions by the supposed implementation of U.N. resolutions that justify blasphemy laws under certain circumstances.  

       

       

      (LET THE READER USE DISCERNMENT)  - Mt 24:15

       

      There is a difference between Russia’s approach to extremist ideology and the Anglo Americas approach to extremist ideology, but both reach the same eventuality.  Russia’s approach is solidly built on anti-defamation legislation that supports its cultural policy and the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC).  It is backed by laws designed to fight terrorism and prevent the spread of extremist ideas. (This would apply to Islamic nations as well).  Anglo America’s approach to the spread of terrorism and extremist ideology is more fluid; it reacts to terrorist events in a measured way.  In other words, the bigger the threat to their nation security the more restrictions they can apply.  Opposition toward the preaching work will escalate if war or religious chaos mounts.  In America laws to restrict freedom of speech and assembly can be enforced if they are deemed “necessary” and in accordance with “Article 19” of the “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights”, but it would be hard to justify banning the speech of Jehovah’s Witnesses alone.   It is likely the UN would only support countries, regional and state laws with its own resolutions if religious free speech was restrict across all religions.  A ban on their freedom of assembly would likely follow if religions were to cause an uprising in response to restriction of their speech.   

       

      Please examine the following points made in the references provided below:

       

      *** w87 9/1 p. 20 par. 13 On Guard Against “Peace and Security” as Devised by Nations ***

      13 The United Nations is actually a worldly confederacy against Jehovah God and his dedicated Witnesses on earth. It is really a conspiracy, with the worldly nations getting their heads together and scheming up what they may do against the visible organization of Jehovah God on earth. During this “conclusion of the system of things,” it was foreshadowed by the conspiracy referred to at Isaiah 8:12.—Matthew 24:3.

       

      *** w53 9/15 p. 561 par. 17 Flight to Safety with the New World Society ***

      The world alliance known as the United Nations is the chief and most powerful expression of this religio-political conspiracy against the Messianic kingdom of God. We say “religio-political,” because the religions of this world are in on this world conspiracy against the Kingdom, especially the religions of Christendom.

      Recall that it is religious organizations such as the Vatican, the Russian Orthodox Church and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation among others that are helping or helped to implement these U.N. resolutions over minority religions today.  This is a reality.  Evidently mainstream segments of false religion have been a part of this U.N. conspiracy steering this wild beast and the world rulers against Jehovah’s Witnesses.   We can easily observe how the UN has been used to targeted true worship in Russia and the idea of one true religion.  But understanding how US federal authorities have implemented UN resolutions 16/18 and 67/178 over minority religions in America and its affects upon God’s people takes more discernment.  Has this UN conspiracy targeted Jehovah’s Witnesses by helping foment dissension over the question of “Who really is the faithful and discreet slave faithful slave?” (Mt 24:45)  Has the public preaching been voluntarily moderated to ‘prevent conflict’ with other religions, cultures and people of differing backgrounds in accordance with these resolutions?   Do these developments fit with Jesus warning about “the disgusting thing that causes desolation, as spoken about by Daniel the prophet, standing in a holy place? (Mt 24:15  What more is to come? 

    • By Isabella
      Invasion of Jehovah’s Witnesses home in Surgut (stock photo)
      On January 28, 2020, at least ten addresses of believers were searched in Pechora (Komi). Of 14 people detained, four remain in custody: 68-year-old Pavel Ogorodov, who suffered a stroke; 60-year-old Gennady Polyakevich, Sergey Skutelets, 43, and Maksim Terentyev, 28.

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    • By 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.

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    • By Isabella
      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.

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    • By Isabella
      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).

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    • By 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…

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    • By Isabella
      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: 
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    • By 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.

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    • By 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.

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    • 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.
    • Guest Indiana
      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.

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    • Guest Indiana
      By 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.

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    • Guest Indiana
      By 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.

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    • Guest Indiana
      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
      Jehovah's Witnesses
      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.
       
      Earlier convictions
       
      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)

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    • Guest Indiana
      By 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.”

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    • Guest Indiana
      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.

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    • Guest Indiana
      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:
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    • Guest Indiana
      By 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.
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    • Guest Indiana
      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. 

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    • Guest Indiana
      By 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.”

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    • Guest Indiana
      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.


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    • Guest Indiana
      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.

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