Russian customs finds Jehovah's Witnesses' literature on traveler


by Yaromir Romanov

Znak, 19 August 2019

Customs officers at the airport in Koltsovo opened an administrative case based on article 16.2 of the Code of Administrative Violations of Law ("Failure to declare or improper declaration of goods") against a man who imported through the airport a book of the Jehovah's Witnesses (an organization ruled to be extremist and banned in Russia). As reported in the press service of the Urals customs department, the book was sent for linguistic expert analysis, after it was established that the publication is included in the Federal List of Extremist Materials, and the import of prohibited materials falls under the article concerning failure to declare, the service explained for


The man with religious books was stopped in Koltsovo in June of this year. "He explained to customs officers that he lives in Ekaterinburg and works as a driver. The literature was given to him by acquaintances," the service noted.


The administrative report will be reviewed by a magistrate court of the October district. The press service of the Urals customs department also explained that thus far other security structures, which would be able to initiate proceedings on an incident of possessing a forbidden book or participation in a forbidden organization, have not asked them for materials.


The Jehovah's Witnesses organization was banned on Russian territory in mid-2017. After this, searches of homes of parishioners of this church have been conducted in many regions of the country, with the substantial use of force, and criminal cases have been opened against them based on part 2 of article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the RF ("Participation in the activity of an extremist organization"). In 2018 a case was opened against residents of Karpinsk, Alexander Prianikov and Venera Dulovaia. In May 2019 a case also was brought against Venera's daughter, 19-year-old Daria Dulovaia. Thus far, according to information of the official website of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, the investigation of these cases has not been ended.


Investigation of criminal cases against Jehovah's Witnesses often is accompanied by the needless use of force. In Surgut, adherents of this organization declared that they were subjected to tortures and abuse in the building of the regional department of the SKR. The Investigative Committee opened a criminal case regarding torture in a temporary detention cell of Surgut and an examination of another episode was conducted. The head of the Council on Human Rights, Mikhail Fedorov, and the Russian ombudsman, Tatiana Moskalkova, called attention to the situation.


According to the account of the regional investigation department of the SKR, Jehovists suspected of extremism put up "active resistance" during their arrest, which was the reason for the use on them of "martial approaches," as the result of which they displayed wounds in the form of abrasions and bruises. Signs of electrical burns were called "imitations" by investigators. (tr. by PDS, posted 19 August 2019)

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