Prosecution of Orel Jehovah's Witnesses continues


by Andrei Prakh

Kommersant, 18 March 2019


The debates occurred in the Zheleznodorozhny district court of Orel in the criminal case of the Jehovist Sergei Skrynnikov, who is charged with participating in the activity of the Orel local religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses (part 2 article 282.2 of the CCRF, up to six years incarceration). The state prosecutor requested for him three years in a penal colony of general regime with parole for one year. The criminal case against the adherent of the religious teaching was opened in the winter of 2018; it had been detached from the case of the Danish citizen Dennis Christensen, an elder of the Orel congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.


The latter was found guilty in late February of organizing an extremist community (part 1, article 282.2 of CCRF) and sentenced to six years in a penal colony of general regime. The defense of Dennis Christensen appealed this sentence. The lawyers insist that the preacher did not have anything to do with the liquidated legal entity (the Orel local religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses) and he conducted separate worship services. In addition to Dennis Christensen and Sergei Skrynnikov, the Jehovists Dmitry Prikhodko and Vitaly Maksimov also are under criminal investigation; they escaped abroad and now are on the wanted list. (tr. by PDS, posted 19 March 2019)



Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, 18 March 2019


On 18 March 2019, in the city of Orel, the trial of Jehovah's Witness Sergei Skrynnikov entered the debate stage. Prosecutor Naumova requested for the believer charged under the article "for participation in activity of an extremist organization" real prison time—three years in a penal colony of general regime plus one year probation. After the prosecutor's speech the Zheleznodorozhny court of Orel granted the attorney the opportunity to join the debates. The defense insists on the absolute innocence of the 56-year-old believer.


On 28 March 2019, at 10:00, Sergei Skrynnikov will be allowed his last word, after which the court will withdraw for issuing the sentence. It is expected that the sentence will be announced in court on 1 April 2019 at 10:00.


Sergei Skrynnikov's case is the second case in the city after the famous case of the Danish subject, Dennis Christensen, whom the same court sentenced to six years of prison. The criminal prosecution of these law-abiding Orlovians is a direct consequence of the liquidation and ban of the activity of registered organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses. A number of the exhibits in the Skrynnikov case, for example linguistic, religious studies, and computer expert analyses, were detached from the case of Dennis Christensen.


Sergei Skrynnikov was indicted on 8 May 2018, and since that time he has been under a signed promise not to depart. On that same day, a search was conducted in his home, during which not one single item forbidden by law was found. Like Dennis Christensen, Sergei Skrynnikov was never a member of the Orel local religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses and he did not participate in its activity. (tr. by PDS, posted 19 March 2019)

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