Russia expels Jehovah's Witness prisoner to home country



Dennis Christensen and his wife have arrived safely in his native Denmark. This happened on the day following his release from a penal colony where the believer spent five years, was told by the European Association of Jehovah's Witnesses on 27 May.


Dennis arrived in Russia in 1995, aged 22, as a volunteer in order to help to construct a building for Jehovah's Witnesses outside St. Petersburg. In 1999 he settled in Murmansk, where he met his future wife, Irina.


Christensen received a permit for residence in the Russian Federation. The married couple moved to Orel, where Dennis was arrested on 25 May 2017.


This happened after the Russian Supreme Court, in April, ruled that the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses and its 395 local organizations were extremist. Security forces broke into a meeting for divine worship and arrested Christensen, accusing him of arranging the activity of an extremist organization.


He became the first Jehovah's Witness in contemporary Russia to wind up behind bars because of his faith.


The Danish embassy in Moscow regularly sent its representatives to a court in Orel, who tried to get Christensen transferred to house arrest and they offered to provide bail for him, but without success. The believer spent two years in a SIZO [pretrial detention cell] and three years in the Lgov prison colony. In the colony, Christensen frequently suffered unjustified punishments, in connection with which he spent a portion of the time in harsher conditions. He repeatedly asked for a substitution of a fine in place of a portion of his unserved time. The first time the court granted his request, but the prosecutor's office appealed this decision, and the prison administration put the believer in a punishment cell on fabricated charges.


Just before his release, Russian authorities annulled Dennis' residence permit, which prevented his remaining in the country.


As the association notes, at the present time there are 91 Russian Jehovah's Witnesses in prison. Many have already been released, since their sentences were shorter than Christensen's, some were given suspended sentences, and some were fined many thousands of rubles. In all, about 500 Jehovah's Witnesses from practically all regions of the R.F. have been subjected to criminal prosecution. (tr. by PDS, posted 27 May 2022)

Background articles:
Dennis Christensen again denied early release
October 26, 2020
Another extension of trial of Danish Jehovah's Witness
April 3, 2018

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