– JW.ORG (04.06.2020) – On 4 June, the Crimean Supreme Court sentenced Artem Gerasimov to six years in prison for his peaceful Christian worship as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He was seeking acquittal from his original sentence by the Yalta City Court, which was a fine for 400,000 rubles. Today’s ruling immediately came into force and Artem was taken into custody.
Jarrod Lopes, spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses, states: “Today’s ruling by the Crimean Supreme Court brings religious persecution to a new level of cruelty. Since the 2017 Russian Supreme Court’s ruling that effectively banned Jehovah’s Witnesses, this is the first time an appeal has resulted in a more severe punishment. This bleak development in Crimea is the latest example of Russia exporting its patently extreme religious intolerance. Human rights advocates across the globe have publicly criticized Russia for its baseless attack on Jehovah’s Witnesses, internationally recognized as peaceful, societally responsible Christians. We hope that senior officials in Russia will soon correct the injustice being doled out in their local courts and that judges in Crimea will follow suit.”
Artem is the second one of Jehovah’s Witnesses to be imprisoned in Crimea under Russian law. Artem’s new sentence now matches the sentence of Sergey Filatov, who was likewise convicted on March 5, 2020, but by the Dzhankoysky District Court.
Crimea has been de facto under Russian rule since its annexation in 2014 although it is still de jure part of Ukraine.