Jehovah's Witnesses in Crimea continue to meet despite ban


Krym.Realii, 30 June 2017


In Dzhankoy, after a judicial hearing on the accusation of illegal missionary activity by a 67-year-old local resident, Vitaly Arseniuk, conducted by magistrate judge Alkhaz Tulparov, Arseniuk died of a massive heart attack.


As a Radio Liberty journalist in Crimea, Anton Naumliuk, told Krym.Realii on 30 June, the trial was held on 27 June and Vitaly Arseniuk died the same night.


The man was charged with the crime according to part 4 of article 5.26 of the Code of Administrative Violations of Law of Russia (conducting missionary activity with violation of the requirements of legislation).


According to the journalist's information, Arseniuk was the head of the local committee of Jehovah's Witnesses before the prohibition of the organization in Russia and in Crimea, which it annexed. Along with all believers, he conducted a worship service, prayed, sang, and read and discussed the Bible. He was summoned to the Russian procurator's office several times in May and on 27 June the first session, which had been postponed to the next month, was held.


Earlier in June it was reported that a military commission of the Bakhchisarai district of annexed Crimea demanded of a conscript who was a Jehovah's Witnesses devotee that he present a "document about change of faith."


On 20 April, the Russian Supreme Court ruled the activity of the Jehovah's Witnesses organization to be extremist and banned it


The European Union affirms that the religious group should have the right to freedom of assembly, which is guaranteed by the Russian constitution and Russia's international obligations in the area of human rights.


In the middle of May, the European Forum for Freedom of Religious Confession and the organization "Human Rights without Borders" sent to the Russian Supreme Court a request to revoke the decision to ban the Jehovah's Witnesses. They consider it to be a restriction on human rights. (tr. by PDS, posted 2 July 2017)

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