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Investigators open case over activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses chapter in Siberia

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MOSCOW, February 11 (RAPSI) – Investigative authorities of Russia’s Zabaikalsky Krai region in Siberia have initiated a criminal case over activities of a chapter of banned Jehovah’s Witnesses, according to a statement of Russia’s Investigative Committee.

Investigators believe that a local chapter of Jehovah’s Witnesses has been operating in the town of Chita and several districts of the Zabaikalsky Krai for some years; the case was opened on the grounds that this religious society had been banned by a court decision as an extremist organization.

In April 2017, the Supreme Court of Russia ordered liquidation of the Jehovah's Witnesses managing organization and all its 395 local branches. In August, the Administrative Centre of Jehovah's Witnesses was added to the list of banned extremist organizations.

Jehovah’s Witnesses religious organization has had many legal problems in Russia. Since 2009, 95 materials distributed by the organization in the country have been declared extremist and 8 Jehovah's Witnesses’ branches have been liquidated, according to the Justice Ministry.

Jehovah's Witnesses is an international religious organization based in Brooklyn, New York. Since 2004 several branches and chapters of the organization were banned and shut down in various regions of Russia.

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    • By Isabella
      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. After an appeal by the prosecutor, on 4 June Crimea's Supreme Court changed the punishment imposed on 35-year-old Artyom Gerasimov from a fine of two years' average wages to a six-year jail term. He was arrested in the courtroom. He was the second Crimean Jehovah's Witness to be jailed.
      The decision to make prisoner of conscience Gerasimov's punishment harsher without sending the case for a retrial is the first such instance in any Jehovah's Witness case in Crimea, or in Russia within its internationally recognised borders.

      The first such jailing for exercising freedom of religion and belief was Muslim prisoner of conscience Renat Suleimanov. In January 2019 a Simferopol court jailed him for four years on "extremism"-related charges for meeting openly in mosques with three friends to discuss their faith.
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    • By Isabella
      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 Witnesses, this is the first time an appeal has resulted in a more severe punishment.
      This bleak development in Crimea is the latest example of Russia exporting its patently extreme religious intolerance.
      Human rights advocates across the globe have publicly criticized Russia for its baseless attack on Jehovah's Witnesses, internationally recognized as peaceful, societally responsible Christians.
      We hope that senior officials in Russia will soon correct the injustice being doled out in their local courts and that judges in Crimea will follow suit.
      " Artem is the second one of Jehovah's Witnesses to be imprisoned in Crimea under Russian law.
      Artem's new sentence now matches the sentence of Sergey Filatov, who was likewise convicted on March 5, 2020, but by the Dzhankoysky District Court.

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    • By Isabella
      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 part by video link from the SIZO [remand prison] was deprived of the chance to see his family and all those who would have wished to show their support.  
      The closed hearing also makes it unclear whether Belousov made any pretence of examining the appeal.  This seems unlikely since he upheld the manifestly wrongful six-year sentence in a medium security prison colony handed down on 5 March 2020 by ‘judge’ Maria Yermakova, from the Dzhankoy District Court.  The sentence also includes a five-year ban on engaging in educational work involving public addresses or publications in the media or posting information in the media or Internet, as well as a one-year term of restricted liberty after the prison term.  
      Filatov was found to have prayed, together with others, in his own home, which the Russian-controlled prosecutor and court chose to view as “undermining constitutional order and state security”.  He was charged under Article 282.2 § 1 of Russia’s criminal code which punishes for something termed ‘organization of the activities of an extremist organization.”   Russia treats the presumption of innocence with the same contempt it shows religious freedom, and Filatov was swiftly added to Russia’s notorious ‘list of extremists and terrorists’, with this bringing serious economic restrictions.  He was not, however, held in detention, and was taken into custody after the sentence was announced on 5 March.  He has been held at the Simferopol SIZO [remand prison], where the overcrowding, filth and unsanitary conditions are a danger to life and health.  Now that the appeal has failed, he may be moved, in violation this time also of the European Court of Human Rights, to Russia.

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    • By Isabella
      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-trial detention center: Andrey Magliv, Igor Yegozaryan, Ruslan Korolev, Vladimir Kulyasov, Valery Rogozin, Valery Shalev, Tatiana Shamsheva, Olga Silayeva, Alexander Solovyov and Denis Timoshin.
      According to 15-page decision No. 10/2020, none of the cases examined had a basis for criminal prosecution and they should all be closed immediately. The cases were brought "only because [the accused] peacefully practised their religious beliefs, including carrying religious texts and the Bible, gathered together in worship services with fellow believers" (para. 67).
      Paragraph 71 of the document states: "All 18 people ... were accused of various forms of 'extremist activity. However, in the Working Group's opinion, none of the activities described can be interpreted as such. Furthermore, no information has been submitted to the Working Group and the Working Group itself cannot establish any reasons that might justify restricting the rights of the 18 individuals concerned under article 18 of the [International] Covenant [on Civil and Political Rights]. The Working Group considers that all the activities in which they participated were a peaceful way of exercising the right to freedom of religion in accordance with article 18 of the Covenant. Such activities were the only basis for the detention and trial of all 18 individuals".
      Paragraph 80 stresses that "the actions of the 18 named individuals were peaceful, and there is no evidence that any of them, or any of the Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia at all, have ever resorted to violence or called others to violence".
      The decision repeats that there is a "systematic and institutionalized persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses" in Russia (clause 78). The same wording was used in the decision of 1 October 2019 concerning Vladimir Alushkin of Penza and in the decision of 3 May 2019 concerning Dmitry Mikhailov of Shuia (Ivanovo Region). Thus, this is the third opinion of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in relation to Russian Jehovah's Witnesses. In all cases the UN representatives rejected the connection of Jehovah's Witnesses with extremism.
      The Working Group also calls for the release from detention of those detained in pretrial detention facilities, as there is a high risk of COVID-19 contamination with limited medical assistance (para. 84).
      In paragraph 85, the Working Group calls for "a full and independent investigation into the circumstances of the arbitrary deprivation of liberty" of believers and "to take appropriate action against those responsible".
      The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is the body designed to investigate cases of detention that are not in conformity with the international standards set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international instruments. The Working Group is entitled to receive information from the authorities and non-governmental organizations and to meet with detainees and their families in order to establish the facts. The Working Group presents its findings and recommendations to Governments as well as to the United Nations Human Rights Council. Although the decisions of the Working Group are not binding on States, they may contribute to weakening the position of the authorities in a context of wide international publicity.
      According to the legal position of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation as expressed in Decision No. 1276-O of 9 June 2015, the Russian Federation, as a State governed by the rule of law, cannot ignore, without avoiding the legal consequences, the decision of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention containing conclusions on the arbitrary detention and criminal prosecution of citizens.

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    • By Isabella
      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 their sixties, seventies or eighties. Another defendant died in Kirov in April shortly before the first full hearing was due in his trial. Another man died in Smolensk in April after investigators submitted the case against him to prosecutors and before it reached court. Both those who died were in their sixties.
      The oldest defendant is 85-year-old Yelena Zayshchuk, whom the FSB security service took in for questioning after raiding her home in Vladivostok in April 2018. Her family "do not understand why they are persecuting an elderly and sick person who has done nothing wrong to anyone", Jehovah's Witnesses commented (see below).

      Among the other six on trial with Zayshchuk is Nina Purge, who is due to be 80 on 19 June. Four of the other defendants are women in their sixties or seventies. The Judge has sent the case back to prosecutors (see below).

      Yury Geraskov, who died in Kirov at the age of 64, had not spent any time in detention, but "stress connected with persecution for his faith had negatively affected Yury's health", Jehovah's Witnesses noted (see below).

      Viktor Malkov, who died in Smolensk at the age of 61, had spent eight months in detention and nearly four months under house arrest. He had suffered from coronary heart disease and kidney problems. "Viktor's health was largely influenced by poor conditions in pre-trial detention centres and the stress associated with criminal prosecution", Jehovah's Witnesses noted (see below).

      Sergey Mysin is on trial in Ulyanovsk despite serious health concerns. Jehovah's Witnesses say he was discharged early from intensive care in October 2019 after FSB security service officers went to the hospital to insist on his treatment being stopped. The Ulyanovsk Region FSB refused to answer any questions from Forum 18 on the incident (see below).

      Two of the other defendants are men who have already been convicted in another, overlapping trial (see below).

      Despite the coronavirus pandemic, there is no sign of early release, however, for those Jehovah's Witnesses currently in pre-trial detention. Several are worried about the danger of contracting the disease (see below).

      The Moscow-based Public Verdict human rights group warns of poor conditions in Russian prisons, such as "overcrowding, poor ventilation, lack of medical staff, poor medical care, and serious health problems, including chronic conditions and lowered immunity among inmates and staff alike" (see below).

      Nina Purge
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    • By Isabella
      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.”

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    • By Isabella
      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?

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    • By Isabella
      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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    • By Isabella
      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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    • By Isabella
      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

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    • By Isabella
      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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    • By Isabella
      The Prosecutor General’s Office of Belarus has refused to extradite a Jehovah’s Witnesses follower, Nikolai Makhalichev, to Russia. He was released from custody, human rights organization Human Constanta said on Facebook.
      A Russian national and member of the Jehovah's Witnesses religious group, Makhalichev has spent 40 days in custody in Belarus. Human rights activists hope that the Belarusian authorities will give the Russian a refugee status or asylum, after which he will be able to live in safety.
      Nikolai Makhalichev, 36, was detained on February 21 in the town of Haradok, Viciebsk region. He was told that Russia had put him on an interstate wanted list because he belonged to a banned religious community.

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    • By Isabella
      PRISONS ARE fecund incubators for coronavirus — people in tight proximity, surfaces easily contaminated, closed internal spaces, poor hygiene and lack of medicines. For those around the world who have been thrown into jails for their beliefs, the pandemic could become a death sentence. Prisoners everywhere must be protected from the virus on humanitarian grounds, and political prisoners ought to be freed now so they do not die for their words and convictions.
      In Kyrgyzstan, journalist Azimjon Askarov is ill. Let him go. Iran must release Iranian American businessman Siamak Namazi, held for more than four years in Evin prison. In Russia, the political prisoners include 26 Jehovah’s Witnesses in pretrial detention and eight in penal colonies. They should not face a covid-19 death sentence for their religious beliefs. In Venezuela, the “Citgo 6” have been recently moved from house arrest to prison. They are six oil company executives — five U.S. citizens and one permanent resident — arrested and detained in 2017. They must be released.

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    • By Isabella
      On March 20, 2020, the investigator D. Melnikov opened another criminal case under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation against local resident Tatyana Kulakova. Criminal investigations are under way against her husband and eldest son, Dmitriy. The youngest of the Kulakov family, Yevgeniy, for reasons of conscience, asks to replace his military service with alternative civilian service (ACS). However, the authorized bodies unreasonably deny his request, threatening criminal prosecution for “evading military service.”

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    • By Isabella
      67-year-old Yuriy Krutyakov was arrested on March 4, 2020, on suspicion of extremism. Now he is placed in the Moscow pre-trial Detention Center No. 4, a special unit for particularly dangerous criminals. Yuriy suffers from a number of serious diseases, having undergone several operations. Meanwhile, Yuriy was deprived of the Bible. His copy of the Holy Scriptures was withdrawn for verification; until now, the book has not been returned.

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    • By Isabella
      A Russian court has overturned the convictions of six Jehovah’s Witnesses accused of extremism, marking the first instance of the group's worshippers having their verdicts overturned in Russia, the group announced Wednesday.
      The court in Penza, some 550 kilometers southeast of Moscow, handed five adherents suspended two-year prison sentences in December. The sixth worshipper, Vladimir Alushkin, was jailed for six years after an investigation had shown that he had continued to run the local Jehovah’s Witnesses branch despite the group being outlawed in Russia.
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      Vladimir Alushkin, a Jehovah's Witnesses member who in December was jailed for six years, has been released after his conviction on extremism charges was overturned.
    • By Isabella
      On the afternoon of 3 March 2020, a court in the southern Crimean town of Yalta is expected to issue its verdict in the "extremism"-related criminal case of Jehovah's Witness Artyom Gerasimov. The prosecutor has demanded a general regime jail term of six and a half years, plus one year of restrictions on freedom and a three-year ban on unspecified activity (see below).

      On the morning of 5 March, the District Court in the northern Crimean town of Dzhankoi is expected to issue its verdict in the "extremism"-related criminal case of another Crimean Jehovah's Witness, Sergei Filatov. Closed hearings on 25 and 28 February heard the final speeches in the case. The prosecutor has demanded a strict regime jail term of seven years (see below).

      If either Gerasimov or Filatov is convicted, they would be the first Jehovah's Witnesses convicted in Russian-occupied Crimea to punish them for exercising freedom of religion or belief (see below).

      Two other Jehovah's Witnesses in Russian-occupied Crimea face "extremism"-related criminal charges. Russian security forces again raided the home of one of them on 13 February. An FSB security service present during the raid put the phone down as soon as Forum 18 asked why it had been launched (see below).

      Meanwhile, the FSB security service Investigator has three times refused to grant permission for Oleg Prikhodko to receive a pastoral visit in Simferopol Investigation Prison from Archbishop Kliment, of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The Investigator initially refused because the Church does not have Russian registration. His third refusal claimed such a pastoral visit might harm the investigation (see below).
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    • By Isabella
      WASHINGTON (RNS) — Russia’s human rights record, including its history of mistreating religious minorities, is worsening, according to testimony at a hearing on Capitol Hill Thursday (Feb. 27).  
      “Unfortunately, the human rights situation in Russia continues to deteriorate, and just when you think things can’t get any worse, they do,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., co-chair of the Tom Lantos Commission on Human Rights, at the hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building.
      Elizabeth Cassidy, director of research and policy at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, said Russia’s “malign activities around the globe are clearly evident, yet its systematic, ongoing, egregious repression of religious freedom is less well known.”
      “The Russian government maintains, frequently updates and enforces an array of laws that restrict religious freedom,” Cassidy added.  
      She said Jehovah’s Witnesses, who were banned as “extremist” by the Russian government in 2017, are “among the groups most brutally targeted under these laws in recent years,” as praying, preaching and dissemination of materials outside designated places of worship are often prohibited.
      As of the day of the hearing, the Jehovah’s Witnesses report that 35 of their members are in prison, 25 are under house arrest and 29 have been convicted in Russia.
      “These violations are escalating, spreading through the country and even across its borders,” Cassidy said.

      Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., left, co-chair of the Tom Lantos Commission on Human Rights, talks with Elizabeth Cassidy, center, and Melissa Hooper after a human rights hearing Feb. 27, 2020, at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

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    • By Isabella
      On February 21, 2020, in the Republic of Belarus, police officers detained Russian citizen Nikolay Makhalichev, 36. Checking his documents, they declared he was wanted by the Russian authorities since he was professing a banned religion. Three days later the prosecutor sent him to pre-trial detention facility SIZO-2 in Vitebsk, Belarus.

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    • By Isabella
      Authorities in Russia’s Far East have charged eight Jehovah’s Witnesses with extremism earlier this month, bringing the number of worshippers facing criminal prosecution there to 22, the religious organization said Tuesday.
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    • By Isabella
      On February 6, 2020, in Orenburg, officers of Penal Colony No. 1 beat believers Budenchuk, German, Gridasov, Makhammadiyev, and Miretskiy with clubs and legs. As a result, one of them, Feliks Makhammadiyev, was hospitalized. The rest were falsely charged and sent to a punishment cell.
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    • By Isabella
      Late in the evening of February 10, 2020, Vadim Kutsenko, 31, was tortured in the forest, leaving him in pain and weakness. Law enforcement officers repeatedly beat and choked him and applied electric shocks to his stomach and leg.
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      The Trans-Baikal Territory is the territory where during the Stalinist repressions Jehovah's Witnesses were massively exiled to a special settlement. Believers were later rehabilitated and recognized as victims of political repression.
      A year ago, on February 15, 2019, seven peaceful Jehovah's Witnesses in Surgut were tortured with electric shocks, suffocation, and beatings. Under torture, investigators forced them to answer questions about their religion and fellow believers. According to the messages of believers, an investigation is under way.

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    • By Isabella
      Federal Financial Monitoring Service of the Russian Federation (Rosfinmonitoring) has included more than 200 innocent believers in the list of individuals involved in extremism and terrorism. They lose their jobs, business, pensions, bank accounts and even the opportunity to buy a SIM card or get insurance.

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    • By Isabella
      Two Jehovah’s Witnesses have been convicted of extremism in Russia’s Far East, the group said Tuesday amid what activists say is an escalating crackdown on the religious group.
      The ruling to hand the two worshippers in the Khabarovsk region a two-year suspended sentence comes after Russia’s Supreme Court declared the Jehovah’s Witnesses an “extremist” organization in 2017.
      A court found Jehovah’s Witnesses Nikolai Polevodov and Stanislav Kim guilty of membership in an extremist organization, the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia group said. 
      Polevodov and Kim are also among six fellow believers currently awaiting a verdict on charges of organizing an extremist organization. They were detained during a raid on what the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia called a non-religious gathering at a cafe in 2018. 

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    • By Isabella
      Fifty Russian citizens have been awarded compensation totaling more than 1 million euros ($1.1 million) for police brutality and illegal searches, according to four European human rights court rulings issued Tuesday.
      Russia paid more than 600 million rubles ($9.5 million) to its citizens in compliance with European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rulings in 2019, officials said. Russia’s payouts over 20 years, they said, totaled 200 million euros.
      Three of the latest ECHR rulings award 29 Russian citizens 835,000 euros on claims of torture through electric shocks, needles in nails and beatings with truncheons, according to a tally by the MBKh News website.
      In its fourth ruling, the ECHR awarded 21 Russian lawyers 180,000 euros on claims of unlawful searches.
      Russian law enforcement has been rocked by several torture scandals in recent years, with reported victims including LGBT people in Chechnya, Jehovah's Witnesses and prisoners. 
      President Vladimir Putin in 2015 allowed the Russian Constitutional Court to overrule decisions issued by the Strasbourg-based judiciary. Putin’s recent constitutional shake-up includes a proposal for Russian law to take precedence over international rulings, a clause that experts viewed as targeting the ECHR.
      The share of Russian cases in Europe’s top human rights court reached a seven-year high in 2019, according to its recently released annual report.

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    • By Isabella
      The rebel Luhansk People's Republic – which denies registration to many religious communities including all Protestants – threatens to cut off gas, electricity and water to places of worship belonging to unrecognised communities. The rebel authorities have allowed the only Catholic priest to return to the territory, but have not said if he can remain permanently or only for three months.
      In 2019 the rulers of the unrecognised self-declared Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) in eastern Ukraine cut off or threatened to cut off gas, electricity and water supplies to religious communities which had a recognised place of worship but which failed to gain registration under LPR laws. Gas supplies were cut off in 2019. In late 2019 the LPR authorities also threatened to cut off electricity and water supplies.
      "Officials argue that they cannot supply gas, electricity and water to organisations that don't officially exist, as they can't have contracts with them," Baptist Pastor Serhii Moroz told Forum 18 (see below).

      In December 2019 Culture, Sport and Youth Minister Dmitry Sidorov, revealed that of the 195 registered religious organisations, 188 are from the Russian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate. The others are Muslim, Old Believer, Jewish and Catholic. No Protestant, Jehovah's Witness, Hare Krishna or other communities are allowed to get registration 
      No registration – no gas, electricity, water
      Religious communities which had a recognised place of worship but which failed to gain registration under LPR laws had their gas cut off in 2019, Baptist Pastor Serhii Moroz, who is originally from the region but now lives in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, told Forum 18 on 4 February 2020. In late 2019 came the threat that electricity and water too would be cut off.

      "Officials argue that they cannot supply gas, electricity and water to organisations that don't officially exist, as they can't have contracts with them," Pastor Moroz told Forum 18.

      Communities which met in church members' homes have not had gas, electricity and water supplies cut, Pastor Moroz added.

      Inna Sheryayeva, head of the Religious Organisations and Spirituality Department of the Culture, Sport and Youth Ministry in Luhansk, told Forum 18 she had not heard that gas, electricity and water supplies have been or are threatened with being cut off to places of worship that have not been able to gain registration.

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    • By ...


      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.   




      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. 





      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.”





       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.  





      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.  





      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.





      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.  





      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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