Searches lead to criminal charges of Jehovah's Witnesses


Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, 6 December 2018

On 2 December 2018 in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka, a group of more than ten armed law enforcement officers in masks burst into the residence of a local resident, who on that day was receiving guests in his home. All 13 persons who were in the house were suspected of joint reading of the Bible (officially of conducting "collective religious performances and worship services," "distribution of literature of extremist contents," "planned study of tenets of the religious association of Jehovah's Witnesses," "viewing of video materials of a forbidden religious structure") and they were taken for questioning in the investigation department. It has become known that a criminal case based on part 1 of article 282.2 of the CC RF (planning the activity of an extremist organization) was opened against a 44-year-old local resident, Sergei Ledenev, and a signed promise not to depart was taken from him.


This is at least the third criminal case for faith opened on Kamchatka against citizens who are suspected of professing the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses.


The case of the Popov couple in Viliuchinsk (Kamchatka territory) was opened on 25 July 2018, based on parts 1 and 1.1 of article 282.2 (planning the activity of an extremist organization and recruitment into the activity of an extremist organization). On 30 July 2018 a series of searches was conducted in the city and Mikhail and Elena Popov were arrested. Later the measure of restriction was softened for them. Mikhail spent 11 days behind bars and Elena 12 days behind bars and under house arrest. The investigation is continuing.


The case of the Bazhenov couple and others in Elizovo (Kamchatka territory) was opened on 17 August 2018 on the basis of part 1 of article 282.2 of the CC RF (planning the activity of an extremist organization). On 19 August 2018 searches were conducted in four apartments in the city of citizens suspected of professing the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses. Konstantin Bazhenov and his wife, Snezhana, were put into a temporary holding cell, as was 71-year-old Vera Zolotova. After two days in the cell, the women were released.  Later, under a promise not to depart, Konstantin Bazhenov also was released (he was released from custody by an appellate ruling of a court), having spent 11 days behind bars. . . . (tr. by PDS, posted 7 December 2018)

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