Jehovah's Witnesses repeatedly tried for same offenses


Za Prava Cheloveka, 31 July 2020


Two criminal cases on one and the same extremism article (part 2 of article 282.2 of the CC of RF—participation in an extremist association) were opened against a resident of the city of Nevelska (Sakhalin), Viacheslav Ivanov. The website of the Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia reports that two law enforcement agencies, the F.S.B. [Federal Security Service] and the M.V.D. [Ministry of Internal Affairs], are trying at the same time to hold a believer criminally accountable.


The first criminal case against Ivanov was opened by the Investigation Department of the Department of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs for the Nevelska city district. On 29 August 2019, Senior Lieutenant Ilia Antonov took over the case for proceeding on the basis of part 2 of article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the RF on the grounds that Viacheslav Ivanov "on the basis of a previous agreement went door to door . . . in the city of Nevelska as a representative of the religious organization."


The second case was begun by the Investigation Department of the Directorate of the Russian F.S.B. for Sakhalin oblast on 14 October 2019. Senior Lieutenant D.S. Melnikov took it over on the basis of a report of an operational agent. According to this document, the believer "is an active participant of a religious association of Jehovah' Witnesses (an organization ruled to be extremist in the RF)" and "he drew new persons into it."


Viacheslav Ivanov filed an appeal in the prosecutor's office against the actions of the agencies, but the senior assistant prosecutor of Sakhalin oblast, Alexander Metelsky, turned him down inasmuch as he "did not find grounds for combining the two criminal cases."


By mid-July 2020, U.F.S.B. investigator D.S. Melnikov presented an official indictment to Viacheslav Ivanov. It read: Ivanov participated in criminal activity "at the direction of Sergei Kulakov or Evgeny Elin" and "together with the Kulakovs and Koslitin conducted psychological manipulation of residents of the city of Nevelska in order to draw them into the activity of the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses."


The prosecution of the Jehovah's Witnesses by two agencies in Russia simultaneously is not happening for the first time, by any means. Thus, in Khabarovsk, Nikolai Polevodov and Stanislav Kim are being tried for their faith in two courts simultaneously, and criminal cases based on the "extremism" articles were reopened against Venera Dulovaya, her daughter Daria, and Alexander Prianikov even after the issuing of a guilty verdict. (tr. by PDS, posted 1 August 2020)

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