Actions against Jehovah's Witnesses in Krasnoyarsk territory


SOVA Center for News and Analysis, 23 April 2019


On 19 April searches were conducted at homes of Jehovah's Witnesses in Sharypov and Minusinsk of Krasnoyarsk territory. On the basis of a new criminal case, initiated on part 1 of article 282.2 of the Criminal Code (arranging the activity of an extremist organization), twenty-eight-year-old Anton Ostapenko from Sharypov was arrested. The SKR (Investigative Committee of Russia) reported that investigators petitioned in court for his detention.


In Minusinsk, a signed promise not to depart was obtained from forty-two-year-old Dmitry Maslov, for whom a case was opened on the same article. According to the account of the investigation, he had rented a cottage and arranged for the conduct in it of a worship service of Jehovah's Witnesses.


According to information from the Jehovah's Witnesses, searches were conducted in at least eight homes in Sharypov. Editions of the Bible in the synodal translation and the translation of Archimandrite Makary, greeting cards, and notebooks were seized, among other things. In Minusinsk, searches were conducted in at least five homes, after which more than 30 persons were interrogated. The searches were conducted without a court warrant, which the chief of the district investigative department justified by citing the impossibility of petitioning in court "by reason of the late hour of the day" (according to part 5, article 65 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, searches without warrant are possible only in exceptional cases, when the investigation actions cannot be delayed). Believers also note that during one of the searches, an agent of the Russian guard shoved 76-year-old Alexander Potemkin, as a result of which he fell and received physical injuries.


The investigation estimates that more than 100 persons were members of the Jehovah's Witnesses organization that has operated in Sharypov since 2017, and that there are about 500 persons in the similar organization in Minusinsk.


Earlier, in the summer of 2018, the Jehovah's Witness Andrei Stupnikov was placed in a SIZO in Krasnoyarsk on a charge of arranging the activity of the local liquidated organization of Jehovah's Witnesses; he was subsequently placed under house arrest.


The decision to find the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia and 395 local organizations to be extremist was made by the Russian Supreme Court in April 2017. In July, an appeal of this decision was turned down, after which, in August, the organizations were entered into the list of extremist organizations. We think that this decision, like the prosecutions of Jehovah's Witnesses as a whole, does not have legal basis and is a clear manifestation of religious discrimination. (tr. by PDS, posted 25 April 2019)

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