FOURTH BELIEVER ARRESTED IN SMOLENSK
Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, 2 May 2019
On 1 May 2019, a court in Smolensk sent 30-year-old Evgeny Deshko to jail for two months; he was suspected of professing the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses. The man was arrested on 29 April 2019 in Dagomys of Krasnodar territory and transported to Smolensk.
According to preliminary information, Evgeny Deshko fell into the field of vision of Smolensk law enforcement in the context of the criminal prosecution of Valery Shalev and other adherents of the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses in Smolensk, for whom the investigation department of the UFSB of Russia for Smolensk oblast had opened a criminal case based on part 2 of article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. The case became known on 25 April 2019 when searches were conducted in believers' homes in Smolensk. The next day, the Lenin district court of Smolensk put Ruslan Korolev, Valery Shalev, and Viktor Malkov behind bars.
This is now the second such criminal case in the Smolensk area. On 7 October 2018, personnel of the FSB directorate for Smolensk oblast conducted a series of searches, during which two women, Natalia Sorokina and Maria Troshink, were arrested in Sychevka of Smolensk oblast. They spent more than six months behind bars, after which they were transferred to house arrest. [. . .] (tr. by PDS, posted 2 May 2019)
THREE MEN SENT TO SIZO FOR THREE MONTHS FOR THEIR FAITH IN SMOLENSK
Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, 30 April 2019
On 26 April 2019, the Lenin district court of Smolensk put three local believers behind bars: 36-yer-old Ruslan Korolev, 41-year-old Valery Shalev, and 60-year-old Viktor Malkov. The day before, for another time, widespread searches were conducted in homes of citizens whom local law enforcement suspects of professing the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses. A criminal case was opened on the basis of part 2 of article 282.2 of the CCRF. The case is being investigated by the investigation department of the Russian directorate of the FSB for Smolensk oblast.
In all, on 25 April 2019 about three searches were conducted in Smolensk. For example, Valery Shalev was arrested by security forces near his workplace. He was taken home, where in the course of two hours a search was conducted. After the search, he was placed in a detention cell of the internal affairs department for Smolensk district.
This is now at least the second such criminal case. The first became known on 7 October 2018 when the FSB, along with the center for combating extremism and a rapid response team, conducted searches in believers' homes and arrested two women, Natalia Sorokina and Maria Troshina, who spent more than six months behind bars. Now, while the women have been under house arrest, a new case has been opened and another three persons have been imprisoned in a SIZO.
It is noteworthy that on 18 December 2016, in Smolensk, about 15 armed OMON troops, investigators, and police officers entered a house of worship of Jehovah's Witnesses on Pushkin St., when a service with about 60 believers participating was going on. Law enforcement personnel deliberately entered a rest room and acted as if they discovered a brochure that was included in the list of extremist materials. By that time evidence had already accumulated to the effect that law enforcement personnel and persons cooperating with them were systematically planting forbidden items on believers. [. . .] (tr. by PDS, posted 2 May 2019)
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