Raids du jour on Jehovah's Witnesses


Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, 26 March 2019


On 26 March 2019 at approximately 7:00 a.m. a soft knock was heard on the door of an apartment where the couple Pavel and Elena Popov live with their young daughter in the city of Emanzhelinsk of Cheliabinsk oblast. Through the door the owners were told that there was some kind of accident with their car in the yard. When they opened the door, they saw about ten men in masks with automatic weapons and a mallet for knocking out the door.


The couple was told that a search will be conducted in their home because they profess the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses. A computer, telephone, tablets, family photographs, books, and international passports were seized. After the search the couple was taken for questioning in another city, presumably in Cheliabinsk. The child stayed in the care of family friends. According to law enforcement, whether the couple will be arrested "depends on how they cooperate." (Law enforcement personnel throughout the country threaten to force believers to incriminate themselves or others, by "confessing" that they conduct extremist activity.) The case against the believers is being conducted by the department for investigation of especially important cases of the Investigative Committee of Russia (S.K.R.) for Cheliabinsk oblast.


Simultaneously with operational activities in Emanzhelinsk, judging by reports, searches in believers' homes are underway in Metallurgichesky district of Cheliabinsk.


Earlier, after a decision of the European Court of Human Rights, the Russian Federation admitted that it violated the rights of 150 deaf Jehovah's Witnesses of Cheliabinsk in connection with the disruption of their worship service and it paid 30,000 euros in compensation of moral damages and 60,544 euros in compensation of court costs. The ruling of the E.C.H.R. in this case, known as "Konstantin Kuznetsov and others v. Russian Federation," says: "It is undeniable that group study and discussion of liturgical texts by members of a congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses is a recognized form of confession [by them] of their religion along with the conduct of worship services and education." This ruling was issued in 2007. (tr. by PDS, posted 27 March 2019)



Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, 26 March 2019


In the morning of 26 March 2019 in Kirov there began a wave of new searches in homes of citizens who are considered to be Jehovah's Witnesses. Searches in at least ten places are known. Several persons were arrested and interrogated.  A criminal case is under investigation with respect to 58-year-old Alexander Shamov, 27-year-old Andrei Shchepin, and 70-year-old Evgeny Udintsev.


Earlier, in October 2018, after raids in homes of believers in Kirov, five persons were arrested and sent to a SIZO [pretrial investigation cell]. At the present time, three of them are under house arrest and two have languished 169 days already in prison, including a Polish citizen, Andrzej Oniszczuk. The only grounds for criminal prosecution is the religious confession of these citizens. (The Polish consulate is keeping track of what is happening with Andrzej Oniszczuk.) [. . .] (tr. by PDS, posted 27 March 2019)

Background articles:
Five Jehovah's Witnesses arrested in Kirov
October 9, 2018
Moscow news service highlights improbable accusation against Jehovah's Witnesses
October 9, 2018

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