Russian law enforcement in Far East gives Jehovah's Witnesses a break


Sibir.Realii, 24 September 2020


The directorate of the F.S.B. [Federal Security Service] for Sakhalin oblast in late August ended the criminal prosecution of residents of Nevelsk for religious activity. The case against Viacheslav Ivanov and Dmitry Kulakov was closed, a representative of the European Association of Jehovah's Witnesses, Yaroslav Sivulsky, reported on 24 September.


"This points to the fact that when there is the desire, security personnel are able to conduct an investigation objectively and not yield to the trend of prosecuting peaceful believers that harms society. One would like to believe that such a practice will be extended to other criminal cases that have been opened without a basis merely for religious convictions," Sivulsky commented.


Ivanov and Kulakov were arrested in July 2019 at a time when they were conversing with local residents about God and the Bible. On the same day, they were released. They were later plagued with a criminal case concerning participating in a religious association that is forbidden in the R.F. (part 2, article 282.2 C.C. R.F.). As the materials of the case showed, the Sakhalin residents "based on a prior agreement. . . conducted conversations with residents. . . in their homes, trying to impose on them ideas, which are preached by a religious association that has been liquidated by a court decision because of the performance of extremist activity."


In October 2019, in their homes searches were conducted and publications, audio cassettes, disks, a notebook, and a telephone were confiscated. In the end, an expert came to the conclusion that the materials presented "do not support the idea of the superiority of one religion over another," and the investigators decided that "the actions of Kulakov and Ivanov have a general religious character associated with the right to profess a religion that has not been forbidden in the Russian Federation, which is enshrined in article 28 of the constitution of the R.F."


At the same time, Ivanov remains a suspect within the context of another criminal case that was initiated against five believing residents of Sakhalin. According to Sivulsky, this is not the first incident when several proceedings have been started against believers at the same time: residents of Khabarovsk Nikolai Polevodov and Stanislav Kim are being tried for faith simultaneously in two courts. (tr. by PDS, posted 24 September 2020)

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Editorial disclaimer: RRN does not intend to certify the accuracy of information presented in articles. RRN simply intends to certify the accuracy of the English translation of the contents of the articles as they appeared in news media of countries of the former USSR.

If material is quoted, please give credit to the publication from which it came. It is not necessary to credit this Web page. If material is transmitted electronically, please include reference to the URL,