DEVOTEES OF FORBIDDEN ORGANIZATION OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES TO BE TRIED IN STAVROPOL
by Andrei Shvornev
Stavropol Television, 18 January 2021
The organizers of the activity of a local division of the religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses of the city of Budennovsk, which is prohibited on Russian territory, will be tried. This was reported by the press service of the Neftekumsk district court.
"A criminal case comprising more than 40 volumes against three men has reached the Heftekumsk district court for consideration," the press service of the court explained.
In court it was specified that in the period from 17 July 2017 to 7 December 2018 the men took upon themselves the leadership of the local organization of Jehovah's Witnesses of the city of Budennovsk, which was a part of the structure of the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, which was ruled to be extremist and liquidated on the basis of a decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation in July 2017.
"The accused conducted activities of an organizational nature aimed at the continuation of the illegal activity of the local religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses on the territory of the Neftekumsk urban district," the press service clarified.
The men are accused of arranging the activity and financing of an extremist organization. The maximum penalty for these violations of law is up to ten years incarceration.
The question of the scheduling of the judicial session will soon be decided. (tr. by PDS, posted 18 January 2021)
CASE OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES FROM NEFTEKUMSK REACHES COURT
SOVA Center for News and Analysis, 18 January 2021
On 13 January, the criminal case of three Jehovah's Witnesses reached the Neftekumsk district court of Stavropol territory. They are charged under part 3, article 33, part 1, article 282.2 (arranging the activity of an extremist organization) and part 3, article 33, part 1, article 282.3 (arranging the financing of extremist activity) of the Criminal Code.
The defendants in the case are Alexander Akopov, Konstantin Samsonov, and Shamil Sultanov. There were placed in detention in December 2018. After a year, the measure of restriction was changed to a prohibition on certain activities. Aleksei Shcherbich also had been listed as wanted in this case.
According to the account of the investigation, in the period from 17 July 2017 to 7 December 2018, the defendants "took upon themselves the leadership" of the local religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses of the city of Budennovsk, and conducted activities of an organizational nature aimed at continuing its illegal activity on the territory of the Neftekumsk urban district.
The Jehovah's Witnesses are accused of
involvement in the
activity of an extremist organization, for which in April 2017 the
Supreme Court made the decision to find the Administrative Center
Witnesses in Russia and 395 local religious organizations to be
July 2017 this was confirmed by an appellate panel. We consider
decision, which led to massive criminal persecution of believers,
did not have
a legal basis, and we regard it as a manifestation of religious
(tr. by PDS, posted 18 January 2021)
THREE JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES RELEASED FROM DETENTION IN STAVROPOL
Kavkazskii Uzel, 5 December 2019
A court ordered the release of residents of Neftekumsk, Konstantin Samsonov, Shamil Sultanov, and Alexander Akopov, who are charged with participating in the activity of an extremist organization.
As Kavkazskii Uzel has written, Samsonov, Sultanov, and Akopov are included in the list of political prisoners by the Memorial civil rights center.
The government wants to frighten the population and demonstrate that there are groups of people who threaten it, and as confirmation of this are several dozen Jehovah's Witnesses in the list of political prisoners of the Memorial rights center, the chairman of the "Civic Assistance" committee, Svetlana Gannushkina, declared at a press conference on 28 March in Moscow. Besides the three Jehovah's Witnesses from Neftekumsk, the list includes believers from Kabardino-Balkaria Yury Zalipaev and Arkady Akopian.
The lawyer of the three Jehovah's Witnesses from Neftekumsk, Denis Vladimirov, said that his clients are being held in SIZO No. 1 of Stavropol, and the investigation itself has requested their release.
"The Lenin district court in Stavropol extended the detention in custody every four months. On 7 December the maximum period of detention in custody expired. On 3 December we were told by the Neftekumsk district court that on 29 November they were transported back from the Stavropol SIZO to Neftekumsk, and that the investigation is not petitioning for further detention but for a measure of restriction in the form of prohibition of certain activities. The investigator explained this by the fact that the basic investigative actions have been conducted, expert analyses have been completed, and there is no need to hold the suspects in custody," Vladimirov reported.
As the defense attorney explained, the prohibition on certain activities is a new measure of restriction, somewhere between house arrest and release on one's own recognizance. The suspects are prohibited from communicating with witnesses; leaving Neftekumsk; or using the mail, telephone, internet, or other means of communication, Vladimirov specified.
The suspects were released today in the courtroom of the Neftukumsk district court. They were greeted by numerous relatives and friends who had arrived for the hearing. While they are at large, the defendants will wear special transmitters. "Why they are wearing them is incomprehensible, because they are usually worn for house arrest. Their algorithms are unknown. I have not previously heard about transmitters for this measure of restriction," the lawyer noted.
As of 30 March 2017, 107 local religious organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses were active in the south of Russia, according to the article "Jehovah's Witnesses: Extremists or Victims of Lawlessness?" prepared by Kavkazskii Uzel. (tr. by PDS, posted 18 January 2021)
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