Largest raid on Jehovah's Witnesses leads to police brutality


by Viktoria Ponomareva

The Insider, 29 July 2020


A Jehovah's Witness from Voronezh, Alexander Korol, described torture and abuse on the part of personnel of the MVD [Ministry of Internal Affairs] during interrogation. This is reported on the website Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia.


According to information from members of the organization, 29-year-old Alexander Korol, who was arrested during widespread searches conducted in Voronezh on 13 July, was tortured and beaten during interrogation. One of the agents put a plastic bag on his head and tied it around his neck, trying to force Korol to give information about other members of the organization.


The attempt was repeated several times, until the bag broke. At the same time, Korol was struck on the face several times. Law enforcement agents also threatened to use needles, the report of the organization says.


After this, Korol was taken away for another interrogation, and then to the MVD department for Khokholsky district, which is located 40 kilometers from Voronezh. There the detainee was placed in a temporary holding cell for 48 hours.


Jehovah's Witnesses report that the believer was released two days later without any explanations.


"Since Alexander had no money and the police had confiscated his means of communication, he had to ask passers-by to loan him funds in order to get home, in Voronezh," the organization reports.


Earlier it was reported that widespread searches were conducted in Voronezh in homes of followers of the religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses. In conversation with The Insider, a member of the leadership committee of the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, Yaroslav Sivulsky, explained that this was the most extensive raid against representatives of the organization in the last several years.


In 2017 the Supreme Court ruled that the activity of the religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses was extremist and prohibited its activity in Russia. Over the course of several years, Jehovah's Witnesses in the country have been regularly searched and arrested. Several criminal cases have been opened.  (tr. by PDS, posted 29 July 2020)

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