Long pretrial detention of Voronezh Jehovah's Witnesses


Kommersant, 4 September 2020


The Lenin district court of Voronezh extended the detention of eight local members of the Jehovah's Witnesses (an organization ruled to be extremist in the R.F.). As "De Facto Voronezh" reports, for two believers the measure of restriction was extended until 2 December and for six, until the third. The regional directorate of the S.K.R. [Investigative Committee of Russia—analogue to American F.B.I.—tr.] addressed to the court a petition for such a measure of restriction.


We recall that according to the account of the investigation, the detainees took "active steps of an organizational nature," aimed at the continuation of the activity of the local cell of Jehovah's Witnesses, "Central, Voronezh" (part 1 of article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the R.F., up to ten years of incarceration). In mid-July, the Voronezh oblast became the 56th region of the R.F. in which operational measures were undertaken directed at the termination of the activity of a local cell of Jehovah's Witnesses. Among those detained was Valery Gursky, who 16 years ago was a co-founder of the liquidated legal entity of the regional cell of Jehovists. Representatives of the organization called the actions of law enforcement "persecution of believers." (tr. by PDS, posted 5 September 2020)


Detention extended for eight devotees

by Tatiana Brostovskaia

Vesti Voronezh, 4 September 2020


The Lenin district court extended the detention of eight Jehovah's Witnesses by three months; they were arrested in July on suspicion of extremism. Members of the organization, including leaders in the main, will remain in the SIZO [pretrial investigation cell] at least until 3 December. This was explained for a Vesti Voronezh correspondent in the press service of the court.


Widespread searches in homes of devotees of the Jehovah's Witnesses occurred in Voronezh on 13 July. According to information of the investigation, from June 2018 to February 2020, the forbidden organization continued to operate despite a decision of the Supreme Court. During the searches, forbidden literature, letters, and route maps with points indicated "for conducting recruitment of new adherents" were confiscated, as well as disks and flash drives. All things were sent for expert analysis.


Security forces opened a criminal case for extremism (part 1, article 282.2 CC RF—up to 10 years incarceration). Originally eight devotees were arrested and on the next day another two. All were sent to the SIZO. Members of the religious organization refused to give evidence.


Later, information appeared in news media about tortures of one of the detained Jehovah's Witnesses. A 29-year-old man said that, during interrogation, he was beaten and a plastic bag was put over his head. Investigators arranged a pre-investigation verification on this matter. (tr. by PDS, posted 5 September 2020)



by Ilia Ershov

Bloknot Voronezh, 4 September 2020


All eight suspected members of an extremist sect will remain in an investigation cell.


On 3 September, the Lenin district court of Voronezh considered a petition of investigators for extending the measures of restriction for members of the forbidden religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses. Eight members of the extremist sect (ruled as such in 2017) are suspected under part 1 of article 228.2 of the CC RF. In the context of this case, religious figures ranging in age from 24 to 56 years were placed in a SIZO. Now the investigator has requested to extend the Jehovists' stay in the cell another three months.


As a journalist for Bloknot Voronezh was told in the press service of the Lenin district court, the petition was granted in full. That is, eight members of the extremist sect will stay in the SIZO at least until 3 December.


It is alleged that from June 2018 to February 2020, the suspected residents of Voronezh were active members of the religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses "Central, Voronezh." Despite the illegality, the citizens continued to convene meetings, they attracted new adherents, and they engaged in preaching activity.


"Not wanting to be exposed by law enforcement agencies, the suspects used conspiratorial methods for concealing their activity, including storing accounting and other documentation in electronic form, organizing groups, and using video-conferencing for conducting collective meetings," it was reported in the regional Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee of Russia for Voronezh oblast.


As part of operational activities, investigators conducted more than 110 searches and confiscated literature that is forbidden for distribution in our country. (tr. by PDS, posted 5 September 2020)

Background articles:
Record number of searches of Jehovah's Witnesses in Voronezh
July 16, 2020
Largest raid on Jehovah's Witnesses leads to police brutality
July 29, 2020L

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