Security camera catches police misbehavior against Jehovah's Witnesses



On 20 September 2016, personnel of law enforcement agencies in masks conducted a search in the house of worship of Jehovah's Witnesses in the village of Nezlobnaya (Stavropol terr.). Tapes from the security camera clearly show the actions of the law enforcers.*


Early in the morning, several automobiles approached the building and people in black masks got out of them. After jumping over the fence, they broke the lock on the gates, cut through the entrance door with special equipment, and entered the building.


The tapes from the security camera show that the personnel dispersed to several locations. Several persons entered the hall on the first floor and two of them, in the presence of their colleagues, got out from under their clothing forbidden literature and laid it on a table next to them. Later the personnel supposedly picked up the forbidden literature from the very spot on the table where they had laid it, while the other shelves remained empty.


As Pavel Puzyrev, the chairman of the committee of the local religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses, later explained, inspections are regularly conducted in the house of worship for strange objects and forbidden literature. The day before the special operation such an inspection was conducted as usual. In particular, there was nothing on that table; it was empty.


Besides other things, law enforcers seized audio and video equipment. When Evgeny Vernik, a representative of the owner and member of the committee of the local religious organization, came to the house of worship, personnel of the law enforcement agencies did not let him participate in the search. Vernik explained: "The chief, responsible for the search, did not identify himself nor let me see the warrant. In addition, when I asked him to give me a copy of the warrant, he crudely demanded that I leave the building. And I had to do that."


In the opinion of lawyers, these actions were conducted in violation of the requirements of the law. For example, the warrant for the search was not presented, although there were people in the building. They did not suggest that they open the door for them voluntarily, but instead they immediately used the special equipment. Also the personnel of the law enforcement agencies exceeded their authority in that they removed the representative of the owner from the place where the search was conducted.


A search also was conducted in Nezlobnaya in the home of the chairman of the local religious organization, Pavel Puzyrev. He explained: "Some of the personnel crawled over the fence and when they came into our building—there were about 10 persons—they immediately dispersed to various rooms so that we were not able to observe the course of the search. And, for example, the first plant was done in the kitchen." It is noteworthy that in the week before these events, Puzyrev was the victim of a provocation: unidentified persons pasted false leaflets in his name in schools. During the search, a stack of such leaflets was planted on him, in addition to forbidden literature. In the end, a police report regarding administrative violation of law was drawn up against him.


Believers suggest that what happened testifies to the intention of authorities to ban their local religious organization, which has operated legally in the village of Nezlobnaya for 17 years now.


"The last time searches were conducted in the homes of Jehovah's Witnesses in the village of Nezlobnaya was in 1985," Pavel Puzyrev explained. "At that time each Jehovah's Witness understood that at any moment personnel of law enforcement agencies could come to his house and seize his Bible and biblical literature. History is repeating itself. Only now, in 2016, even if you have nothing that is forbidden, it simply can be planted on you."


The Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia has now learned about no fewer than 60 plants and falsifications. "In the majority of cases, believers were forced to just throw up their hands helplessly," Yaroslav Sivulsky, a representative of the center, said. "However incidents like in Nezlobnaya, when a plant is caught on camera, demonstrate a very sad truth: plants are done by those who are themselves supposed to ensure law and justice. It's their conscience. It's their responsibility, before God and people." (tr. by PDS, posted 5 October 2016)

* A video accompanying this article is accessible at this link.

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