Prosecution of Jehovah's Witnesses gets more brutal


Prosecutor speaks in the debates

Perm Online 59.RU, 9 April 2021


In Perm a trial of four elders and their assistant, who profess the faith of the Jehovah's Witnesses (an organization banned in Russia by a court's decision in April 2017), is winding up. They are being tried on articles 282.2 of the CC RF "Arranging the activity of an extremist organization" and 282.3 of the CC RF "Financing extremist activity." Yesterday in the debates, the state prosecutor asked that all five defendants get real prison sentences of from 4 to 9 years in a penal colony of medium security. This was reported to 59.RU by the attorney of defendant Igor Turik, Anastasia Shardakova.


According to the account of the prosecution, in November 2017, three of the subjects arranged in the "Green Plaza" business center a meeting of adherents of the Jehovah's Witnesses, for which they rented a hall with a capacity of 100 persons. According to information of the investigation, this meeting was held right after the prohibition of the activity of this organization, which a court had ruled to be extremist. A second incident that figures in the charge is a mass baptism in July 2018. At that time, around 20 persons were baptized in a bathhouse complex. The rental of the conference hall in the business center and of the bathhouse complex was financed by one of the five defendants. He is charged with "financing extremist activity."


The legal entity "Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia" and also the "Local Religious Organization of Jehovah's Witnesses in Perm" were banned in April 2017 by decision of the Russian Supreme Court. However, in the opinion of the defendant Igor Turik, the problem was that the state prosecution is interpreting single peaceful meetings of believers as the continuation of the activity of the forbidden extremist organization.


Yesterday in court the debate of the parties was held. The state prosecution asked that all defendants be given real prison terms in a medium security penal colony: for two defendants, 4 years of incarceration each; for another two, seven years each; and for the fifth defendant, nine years in the penal colony.


The verdict will be announced in the near future. (tr. by PDS, posted 9 April 2021)



Memorial Human Rights Center, 9 April 2021


Igor Turik, Viktor Kuchkov, Boris Burylov, Alexander Inozemtsev, and Yury Vaag are being prosecuted merely because of participation in a local congregation of believers.


On 8 April, in the debates in the Industrial district court of Perm, the prosecution side requested real prison terms for five Jehovah's Witnesses: 52-year-old Igor Turik, 80-year-old Boris Burylov, 53-year-old Viktor Kuchkov, 45-year-old Yury Vaag, and 48-year-old Alexander Inozemtsev. This has been written by Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia.


For Igor Turik, accused of arranging the activity of an extremist organization (part 1 of article 282.2 of the CC RF) and financing it (part 1, article 282.3 of the CC RF), nine years in a penal colony were requested; for Boris Burylov and Viktor Kuchkov, who are accused of arranging the activity of an extremist organization (part 1 of article 282.2 of the CC RF), 7 years each in a penal colony; for Yury Vaag and Alexander Inozemtsev, who are charged with participating in the activity of an extremist organization (part 2 of article 282.2 of the CC RF), 4 years each in a colony of ordinary regime.


We recall that the criminal case on the article about creating an extremist organization was opened in September 2018 against Burylov, Turik, and Kuchkov. On 17 December 2018, Igor Turik and Viktor Kuchkov were placed under house arrest. Turik was free on his own recognizance in December 2018, and Kuchkov, in January 2019. The charges advanced against Vaag and Inozemtsev became known only in 2020.


According to the account of the investigation, in 2017-2018 the believers "arranged and conducted religious meetings in which extremist literature and videos were used, rituals of the sect were conducted," and Igor Turik "provided financial resources for ensuring the activity [of the congregation]."


In April 2017, the Russian Supreme Court ruled that the "Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia" is an extremist organization and it liquidated it. In August of the same year, all congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses were placed on a list of forbidden extremist organizations.


The "Memorial" human rights center considers the arrested Jehovah's Witnesses to be political prisoners and demands that prosecution of Jehovah's Witnesses because of their religious affiliation be stopped. (tr. by PDS, posted 9 April 2021)

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