Court activity in Jewish region against Jehovah's Witnesses continues


Memorial Human Rights Center, 16 February 2021


A court sentenced 54-year-old Yulia Kaganovich and 43-year-old Svetlana Monis to less than the lower limit—ten thousand rubles each—citing "exceptional circumstances."


On 15 February, Judge Vladimir Mikhalev of the Birobidzhan district court of the Jewish autonomous oblast ruled Jehovah's Witness Svetlana Monis to be guilty of participating in the activity of an extremist organization (part 2 of article 282.2 of the CC RF) and imposed a penalty on her in the form of a fine of 10,000 rubles. This was reported by Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia.


On the next day, the same judge, on the same charge, sentenced another believer, Yulia Kaganovich, to the same penalty.


For both women, the prosecutor had requested 4 years each in a penal colony of ordinary regime.


In both cases, the court imposed a punishment beneath the lower limit because of "exceptional circumstances," citing article 54 of the Criminal Code of the R.F.


The case against Monis was opened in September 2019, and that against Kaganovich, in October 2019. According to the account of the investigation, Monis "participated directly . . . aiming to spread the religious teaching of Jehovah's Witnesses . . . by means of improving skills of the preaching ministry and of other religious activity," and Kaganovich "performed deliberate actions concerned with reviving and continuing the activity of the local religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses in the city of Birobidzhan."


In the Jewish autonomous oblast, five believers have already been convicted: Anastasia Sycheva from Obluche was sentenced to a suspended two-years in prison; Evgeny Golik, Artur Lokhvitsky, and Igor Tsarev from Birobidzhan were given suspended sentences of 2.5 years; and Larisa Artamonova was assessed a fine of 10,000 rubles.


The congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses in Birobidzhan was ruled to be extremist back on 3 October 2016. In April 2017, the Russian Supreme Court ruled the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia to be an extremist organization and liquidated it. In August of the same year, all congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses were entered into the list of forbidden extremist organizations.


The Memorial Human Rights Center considers the detained Jehovah's Witnesses to be political prisoners and it demands the ending of prosecution of Jehovah's Witnesses based on their religious affiliation. (tr. by PDS, posted 16 February 2021)

Related article:

14 Jehovah's Witnesses on trial in small Jewish region
February 12, 2021

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