Russian press reports American defense of Jehovah's Witnesses


Interfax-Religiia, 26 February 2021

The government of the U.S.A. is concerned by a court's sentence in Khakassia issued to two members of the sect of Jehovah's Witnesses (an extremist organization banned in Russia) and it calls for rescinding the prohibition on the activity of this organization in the country.


"We are concerned by reports that a Russian court sentenced Valentina Baranovskaia and her son Roman Baranovsky to two and six years incarceration in a Russian prison colony of strict regime, respectively," a report by a representative of the State Department, Ned Price, says.


He noted that since the Russian Supreme Court ruled the Jehovah's Witnesses to be an extremist organization in 2017, 52 adherents of the sect have been confined to prison.


"We call Russia to cancel the ban on the activity of Jehovah's Witnesses and to respect the right of everyone to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, or convictions," Price declared.


On 20 April 2017, the Russian Supreme Court, on the basis of a lawsuit of the Russian Ministry of Justice, ruled the Russian Jehovah's Witnesses to be an extremist organization, and it forbade its activity on the territory of the R.F. In the intervening period, law enforcement agencies have suppressed dozens of affiliates of the movement in practically all regions of the country. Criminal cases against Jehovists have been opened and on the basis of conclusions of their investigation they have received various punishments, including fines and suspended and real-time prison terms. (tr. by PDS, posted 27 February 2021)

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