Routine harassment of Jehovah's Witnesses


SOVA Center for News and Analysis, 26 August 2016


Believers reported illegal actions by personnel of law enforcement agencies in Chapaevsk and Budennovsk.


On 24 August, law enforcement agencies conducted operational activities and discovered forbidden literature in two houses of worship of Jehovah's Witnesses: in Chapaevsk, Samara province, and in Budennovsk, Stavropol territory. This was reported by the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia.


According to information of the center, in Chapaevsk police officers burst into the premises at the conclusion of a service and ordered all those present to lie on the floor. After this, in a neighboring room and a closet with cleaning supplies they discovered several books of the Jehovah's Witnesses that are included in the Federal List of Extremist Materials. Copies of documents about conducting operational activities were not presented, several of the officers did not introduce themselves, and personal items were seized from several believers.


In Budennovsk, a group of persons in civilian clothing arrived at a worship service and demanded that it cease, and they presented a ruling of the Stavropol territorial court about conducting operational search activities. Personnel of law enforcement agencies, without identifying themselves, announced a prohibition on filming and demanded that all present leave the building. After this several publications included in the Federal List of Extremist Materials were found on the premises. At the same time a search was conducted in the apartment of the head of the local religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses and a computer was seized in addition to literature that has not been ruled to be extremist.


The Jehovah's Witnesses are sure that the forbidden literature was planted on them.


In late 2015 the Chapaevsk Jehovah's Witnesses received a warning from the prosecutor's office about the impermissibility of extremist activity, which they did not succeed in challenging. (tr. by PDS, posted 26 August 2016)

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