Actions against Jehovah's Witnesses in four Russian cities


Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, 22 May 2019


Early in the morning of 22 May 2019, personnel of law enforcement agencies burst into at least four apartments of Rostovians who are suspected of professing the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses. Men and women were arrested. Several have been released and the fate of others is being investigated.


When fifty-year-old Sergei Khotov opened the door, security agents forced him to the floor and pinned his arms behind his back. Then they picked him up and conducted a search in the apartment, seizing electronic devices and also a synodal edition of the Bible. The search was conducted by agents of the center for combating extremism of the chief directorate of the Russian MVD for Rostov oblast, including the deputy chief of the center with the rank of police lieutenant colonel. . . . (tr. by PDS, posted 22 May 2019)


Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, 22 May 2019


On 18 May 2019, Judge Liudmila Kuzub of the Lenin district court of the city of Smolensk ordered to imprison for a term of two months two women: Tatiana Galkevich and 63-year-old Valentina Vladimirova. Before that, searches were conducted in the home of both.


Although ValentinaVladimirova was arrested on the pretext of a theft in the home of the prosecutor, during interrogation the investigator immediately began asking prepared questions about her religion. A case was opened against the women on the basis of part 2 of article 282.2 of the CC RF (participation in extremist activity). Then in her home a search was conducted, she was interrogated, and electronic devices were seized.


Law enforcement agencies of Smolensk, like their colleagues in other Russian cities, maintain that peaceful believers are engaged in "arranging extremist activity" when they were merely reading the Bible and praying in a private manner. The government of the Russian Federation has confirmed that the decisions of Russian courts "do not contain restrictions or a ban on individually professing the aforesaid teaching [of Jehovah's Witnesses]."


Vladimirova and Galkevich now are the seventh and eighth subjects of criminal cases against Jehovah's Witnesses in Smolensk. In late April 2019 four believers were placed in a SIZO and before that Maria Troshina and Natalia Sorokina spent 191 days behind bars. (tr. by PDS, posted 22 May 2019)


Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, 21 May 2019


On 20 May 2019, the Frunze district court of the city of Saratov, with Judge Igor Diuzhakov presiding, released from custody in the courtroom Konstantin Bazhenov, Aleksei Budenchuk, and Feliks Makhammadiev, who have been in the SIZO since 12 June 2018. They are still charged under article 282.2 (1) of the CC of RF (organization of extremist activity), although the measure of restriction for them is changed to the prohibition of certain actions. They must wear bracelets and may not leave their home at night, nor communicate with other subjects of the criminal case, nor use the telephone and internet.


The believers thanked the court, which finally understood that there are no grounds to keep peaceful citizens behind bars merely for their religious confession. In December 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted that Jehovah's Witnesses are Christians and the reasons for their prosecution are incomprehensible. (tr. by PDS, posted 22 May 2019)




Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, 21 May 2019


On 18 May 2019, Judge Andrei Oleinikov of the Central district court of the city of Volgograd ordered to put four peaceful citizens in a SIZO for two months; they were arrested during a raid on believers on 16 May 2019. Valery Rogozin, Sergei Melnik, Igor Egozarian, and Viacheslav Osipov were placed behind bars merely because the authorities consider them to be Jehovah's Witnesses. All four are charged under part 2 of article 282.2 of the CC of RF—participation in extremist activity.


Ivan Valkovsky, whose imprisonment was reported earlier, was released on the same day. Information about the detention of D. Peresunko and V. Tarasov (81 years old) has not been confirmed subsequently. Surveillance, summons, and interrogations of believers in the city are continuing. (tr. by PDS, posted 22 May 2019)

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