JW World Headquarters (10.02.2021) – On 10 February, a Russian court imposed the longest, harshest sentence—7.5 years in prison—against one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, 63-year-old Aleksandr Ivshin. Prior to today’s ruling, 6 years was the longest sentence imposed on one of Jehovah’s Witnesses since the 2017 Russian Supreme Court ruling that liquidated all of the Witnesses’ legal entities in Russia and Crimea.

Additionally, early this morning, Russian authorities armed with machine guns raided at least 15 homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the city of Moscow and its surrounding region. At least three men have been detained.

Ivshin Case History

  • April 2020, authorities in the villages of Kholmskaya and Pavlovskaya, Krasnodar Territory, searched 9 homes of believers, including that of Aleksandr Ivshin
  • Aleksandr spent 9 months under recognizance not to leave
  • December 2020, the case went to court, lasting only 4 sessions under Judge Kholoshin
  • Aleksandr stated during his final comments to the court: “I get the feeling that I am being tried not for extremism, but for simply continuing to profess the peaceful religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses.” He continued: “In my last word I want to assure you once again that throughout my life, I have not shown aggression or hatred towards anyone. People turned to me for advice and help, and this made me happy. […] Dear court, my position in life is based on biblical principles, where there is no extremism and violence.”

Update on Dennis Christensen

  • Today the Kursk Regional Court denied Dennis’ request for early release and to replace the remainder of his prison term with a fine. This is the second time his request for parole has been denied
  • Dennis was the first Jehovah’s Witness to be imprisoned following the 2017 ban
  • Imprisoned since May 2017
  • Currently serving a six-year sentence

Nationwide Persecution (Russia and Crimea)

  • 197 criminal cases, involving 435 believers
  • 42 in prison
  • 27 under house arrest
  • 1,296 homes of Witnesses raided since the 2017 Supreme Court ruling that liquidated the Witnesses’ legal entities
  • 39 men and women were convicted in 2020 under Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (more than double the 18 convictions in 2019)
  • 72 were imprisoned temporarily or due to conviction in 2020

Photo : jw-Russia.org – Alexander Ivshin just before his conviction.