Uproar over Jehovah's Witnesses is ratcheted up


by Yaromir Romanov

Znak, 20 February 2019


Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, members of an organization that is forbidden in the RF, reported about tortures of their adherents who were arrested in Surgut. Information about this was posted on the Russian website of the religious organization.


The report says that at least seven peaceful Jehovah's Witnesses were subjected to tortures. "In the morning of 15 February 2019, in Surgut, there began wide-spread searches in homes of believers, after which they were taken to the building of the Investigative Committee (S.K.R.). During interrogation they refused to slander themselves and their fellow believers. After the lawyer on duty left, their hands were bound with scotch tape behind their backs and they were beaten, stripped naked, doused with water, and electric shock was applied. The tortures continued for several hours," the organization's report says.


According to information from representatives of the detained residents of Surgut, at the present time three believers remain in the SIZO [pretrial investigation cell]. A criminal case has been opened against 19 local residents for so-called "creation of an extremist organization."


"Those of the believers who were released registered their physical injuries and appealed to supervisory agencies. The believers will seek a thorough investigation of the sadistic treatment and the identification of the organizers and participants in the assembly line of torture. Torture and treatment that is cruel or demeaning of human dignity are criminally punishable offenses. The Russian Federation has signed the United Nations convention against torture and inhumane treatment," the report says.


The senior assistant to the director of the Investigation Department of the S.K.R. for KhMAO-Yugra, Oleg Menshikh, told that personnel of the agency did not use torture during interrogation. "What torture can there be in our time? Of course, this is untrue," he said. At the same time, he noted that if statements from citizens were to be filed regarding the use of torture on them, then corresponding investigations would be ordered. "Thus far, so far as I know, no such statements have come to us," he said.


In early February of this year, personnel of the F.S.B., M.V.D., and S.K.R., with the support of S.O.B.R. troops, conducted a special operation for identifying members of the affiliate of Jehovah's Witnesses in another city of KhMAO, Urai. According to the account of the investigation, members of the organization engaged in recruitment of residents of the city and disseminated extremist ideology. According to's information, the searches were conducted in approximately 20 apartments. The principal defendant in the criminal case is Andrei Sazonov, the first deputy director of the joint stock company Uraiteploenergia.


We also recall that similar searches, arrests, and detention in custody have also been conducted throughout the past several weeks in other regions of the country. And on 6 February of this year, a court in Orel issued a sentence to Danish citizen Dennis Christensen for arranging and participating in worship meetings of Jehovah's Witnesses. Christensen received six years in prison.


It is noteworthy that wide-spread raids on members of the Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia are being conducted against a backdrop of stern statements by Russian rights advocates, many of whom think that the state is violating the rights of believers, "fabricating criminal cases against them." Stern assessments regarding the arrests of Jehovists in Russia are being voiced in the West also. The United Nations and the European Parliament have urged Russian authorities to cease the persecution of believers. (tr. by PDS, posted 20 February 2019)



Echo of Moscow, 20 February 2019


A large-scale security operation was conducted in the city at the end of last week.


They were zapped with electric current, strangled, and beaten—this is how the tortures were described to which detainees were subjected in the building of the Surgut Investigative Committee. According to a report on the Russian website of Jehovah's Witnesses, siloviki beat out of the believers information about meetings of the organization and the identities of elders, and they also tried to learn the passwords of their telephones. The tortures continued over the course of several hours, and no fewer than seven persons in all were subjected to tortures. Three of them remain in a SIZO and the rest took pictures of the beatings and reported to the prosecutor's office. A criminal case regarding extremism was opened against almost 20 devotees.


The Investigative Committee called reports about torture unreliable. The investigation suspects the adherents of the religious organization of conspiratorial meetings, distribution of forbidden literature, and recruitment of new converts.


In the year before last, the Jehovah's Witnesses organization in Russia was ruled to be extremist and was banned. (tr. by PDS, posted 20 February 2019)



Credo.Press, 20 February 2019


On 17 February, the Surgut city court of Khanty-Mansi autonomous district—Yugra (KhMAO-Yu) selected a pretrial measure of restriction for 42-year-old Evgeny Fedin, 57-year-old Sergei Loginov, and 52-year-old Artur Severinchik in the form of detention in a SIZO. A criminal case was opened against 19 local residents, including women, on the basis of an article for creating an extremist organization and participating in its activity.


As confirmed by the European Association of Jehovah's Witnesses, on 15 February large-scale searches were conducted in the city in homes of believers of this confession. After this, there ensued beatings and torture of no fewer than seven believers, using electric shock, strangulation, and beatings, which occurred on the first floor of the building of one of the law enforcement agencies in Surgut.


Among others, 57-year-old Sergei Loginov was subjected to torture. On 16 February his friends sent to the "hot line" of the Investigative Committee of Russia a request to take measures against an investigator of the Surgut department of the S.K.R. for KhMAO-Yu based on reports about torture that have arrived. After the report on the "hot line," Sergei Loginov was immediately released, although after this he was again arrested and forced by torture to write a statement that nobody had tortured him. After this he was not permitted to return home.


In the opinion of the association, Russian law enforcement personnel erroneously consider citizens' profession of faith to be participation in the activity of an extremist organization, citing the decision of a court for the liquidation and ban on the activity of organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia. At the same time, courts in the RF have not adopted any decision regarding the prohibition of professing the faith, nor could they adopt it, inasmuch as it would contradict fundamental norms of the constitution of the RF and international law.


As is known, on 20 April 2017, the Russian Supreme Court ruled all 396 religious organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia to be extremist and prohibited their activity. (tr. by PDS, posted 20 February 2019)

Background articles: News report slanders Jehovah's Witnesses by linking them with Islamic State
February 18, 2019



Interfax-Religiia, 20 February 2019


Investigative agencies know nothing about torture of members of the religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses, which is forbidden in the RF, who were earlier detained in Surgut, the senior assistant of the director of the Investigation Department of the S.K.R. for KhMAO, Oleg Menshikh, told Interfax on Wednesday.


"We deny this information (about tortures—IF). Nobody has officially sent to us declarations about tortures, neither suspects nor witnesses in the case," he said.


The news agency's source explained that reports about torture of Jehovists, which allegedly occurred in the Investigative Committee (S.K.R.) during interrogations, have appeared on a website.


"This (website of Jehovists—IF) is not our (S.K.R.—IF) responsibility. But the organization is banned in Russia and their website also should be forbidden by a court," O. Menshikh added.


Earlier local news media, referring to the website under the name "Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia," reported that tortures were applied in Surgut during interrogation of detained Jehovists.


In February, law enforcement agencies in Surgut liquidated the local cell of the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses. The most active members of the organization were arrested and a criminal case was opened. (tr. by PDS, posted 20 February 2019)

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