Jehovah's Witnesses in distant isolated towns report harassment


Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, 28 February 2019


On 25 February 2019, in the city of Kurilsk and village of Reidovo (Sakhalin oblast) on the Kuril Islands, F.S.B. agents conducted searches in the homes of two women, Olga Kalinnikova and Larisa Potapova. The measure was conducted on the basis of an order from the chief of the Border Control of the Russian F.S.B. for Sakhalin oblast, Lt. Gen. S. Kudriashov, and also on the basis of the order of Judge V. Malevanny of the Sakhalin oblast court.


Although the search operation event was formally called an "inspection of the premises," computers, hard drives, cell phones, flash drives, and other personal items were seized from the women. As far as is known, no criminal case has been opened and the women are not suspects or indicted. The reason for the seizure of items was not explained to them. As a result, the women were left without means of communication from the isolated island.


About 1,600 people live in Kurilsk and about 1,000 people live in Reidovo.


Law enforcement agents throughout the country are continuing to interpret ordinary religious activity of citizens as "extremist activity." Meanwhile, the government of Russia has frequently declared that the decisions of Russian courts banning organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses "do not give an assessment of the teaching of Jehovah's Witnesses and do not contain restriction or prohibition of confessing the aforementioned teaching individually." (tr. by PDS, posted 28 February 2019)

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