RUSSIA: Freedom of religion or belief : Special bimonthly FORB Digest (01-15.03.2022)

15.03.2022 – The second appeal in Birobidzhan approved the sentence to Konstantin Guzev: 2.5 years of suspended sentence for faith in Jehovah God
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On March 14, 2022, the court of the Jewish Autonomous Region, presided by judge Angela Sizova, having considered the case of Konstantin Guzev, ruled to make minor changes to the sentence that do not change its essence.
11.03.2022 – In Vladikavkaz, five families of Jehovah’s Witnesses were raided. Believers were released after long interrogations
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On March 1, 2022, between 7 and 9 a.m. in the capital of the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania, representatives of the investigating authorities conducted inspections of the dwellings of believers at 5 addresses. Five men were interrogated at the Center for Combating Extremism (CCE).
11.03.2022 – Patriarchate priest fined for condemning war in Ukraine
On 10 March, a court fined Fr Ioann Burdin of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Kostroma Diocese one month’s average local wages for online remarks and a Sunday sermon in church condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and stressing the importance of the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill”. The court decision is “a ban not only on expressing one’s opinion but also even on professing one’s religious beliefs”.
11.03.2022 – Orthodox priest convicted for criticism of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine
A resident of Kostroma oblast was fined 35,000 rubles for discrediting Russian troops in a sermon, a Kostroma district court reports.
“The case of an administrative violation of law specified in part 1 of article 20.3.3 of the Code of Administrative Violations of Law of the R.F. against a citizen of the R.F. was reviewed. On 6 March the defendant, in a public place during the conduct of a religious service, in the presence of parishioners, by means of a public report about the attack by armed forces of the Russian Federation in Ukraine and ongoing shelling of Ukrainian cities . . . , discredited the use of the armed forces of the Russian Federation in defense of the interests of the Russian Federation and its citizens,” the court’s report says.
10.03.2022 – Orthodox priest reportedly arrested in Russia for sermon decrying invasion of Ukraine
A Russian Orthodox priest was reportedly arrested this week after he preached a sermon denouncing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, an unusual example of the Russian government cracking down on a cleric from a faith tradition that has long operated in lockstep with President Vladimir Putin.
10.03.2022 – Appeals court orders new trial for Jehovah’s Witness
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On 9 March, the [appeals] court in the Jewish autonomous oblast overturned the sentence of the Jehovah’s Witness Svetlana Monis and returned the case for a new consideration. This was reported by a portal devoted to persecution of believers.
The believer was found guilty on 15 February 2021 of participating in the activity of a forbidden organization (part 2 of article 282.2 of CC) by a court in Birobidzhan and it sentenced her to a fine of 10,000 rubles. An appeals court increased the severity of the sentence on 12 May and gave Monis a suspended prison sentence of two and a half years. On 9 December, the ninth cassation court in Vladivostok remanded the case for a new review in the appeals court. (tr. by PDS, posted 10 March 2022)
10.03.2022 – An appeal in Penza upheld the conviction of a married couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses based in Nikolsk
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On March 9, 2022 panel of judges of Penza regional court presided by Olga Podshibyakina did not satisfy the appeal of Peter and Maya Krupnovs against the sentence of the court of first instance – 2 years of suspended imprisonment for believing in God. The verdict came into force. The believers have the right to appeal the verdict in cassation as well as in international instances.
10.03.2022 – Svetlana Monis’ criminal case based on practicing her faith is routed to the original jurisdiction for a second hearing
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On March 9, 2022 a panel of judges of the Court of the Jewish Autonomous Region, chaired by Elena Pyshkina, overturned the conviction of Jehovah’s Witness Svetlana Monis. The case is returned to the Birobidzhan District Court for review by a new panel of judges.
08.03.2022 – The ECHR issued two rulings in favor of 14 Jehovah’s Witnesses. They complained about searches and detentions in 2010-2012
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On February 22, 2022, the European Court of Human Rights published two rulings in which it found that Russian authorities had violated the believers’ right to freedom of religion when they detained them while discussing the Bible or conducting searches or inspections of their homes and places of worship.
07.03.2022 – Searches took place in the Khabarovsk territory. A believer, 60, was detained and placed in a pre-trial detention center
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On March 3, 2022, at least 2 families of Jehovah’s Witnesses were searched in the Knyaz-Volkonsky rural settlement (Khabarovsk Territory). Valeriy Rabota was detained and on March 6, by a court decision, was sent to a pre-trial detention center for 2 months.
04.03.2022 – An appeal in the City Astrakhan upheld prison sentences for four Jehovah’s Witnesses, including a woman
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On March 3, 2022, the Astrakhan Regional Court upheld the harsh sentence for Jehovah’s Witnesses: 8 years in prison for Yevgeniy Ivanov, Rustam Diarov and Sergey Klikunov, and 3.5 years in prison for Ivanov’s wife, Olga.
02.03.2022 – An appeal in Krasnoyarsk left unchanged vitaliy Sukhov’s six-year suspended sentence for belief in Jehovah God
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On March 1, 2022, Krasnoyarsk Territory court rejected the appeal of Vitaliy Sukhov, father of many children and confirmed the conviction — suspended sentence for “organization of religious speeches and worship”.