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RUSSIA

 

Campaign: Release Jehovah’s Witness Dennis Christensen sentenced to six years in prison!

 

HRWF (19.04.2021) – Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF) calls upon Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world, people of any other faith and non-believers to request the release of Dennis Christensen, a Danish Jehovah’s Witness, sentenced to six years in prison for participating in a religious meeting in 2017.

 

To the ambassador of the Russian Federation to the European Union  amrusbel@skynet.be

 

Excellency,

 

Freedom of religion or belief is protected by the Constitution of your country and by numerous human rights instruments, including the European Court of Human Rights.

 

On 25 May 2017, Dennis Christensen, a 46-year-old Danish citizen, was arrested in Oryol, when heavily armed police officers and agents of the Federal Security Services disrupted a peaceful weekly religious service of Jehovah’s Witnesses that he was attending. The local Jehovah’s Witness registered religious organisation in Oryol had been declared “extremist” by a local court and liquidated in June 2016 before the nationwide ban. However, it is the right of any individual to adhere to a faith and to practice it in community.

 

After nearly a year-long criminal trial with over 50 court appearances, Mr. Christensen was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment merely for practicing his faith as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

On 23 June 2020, the Lgovskiy District Court in the Kursk Region mitigated the remainder of Mr. Christensen’s sentence to a fine of 400,000 rubles ($5,759, U.S.). However, Mr. Aleksei Shatunov of the Kursk Regional Public Prosecutor’s Office filed an appeal demanding that the court ruling be canceled. The appeal was based on false reports that Mr. Christensen did not have a favorable prison record.

In the meantime, the prison authorities in Labour Camp No. 3 in Lgov placed him in a punishment cell for ten days despite his poor health for alleged minor violations of prison rules, which he denied.

 

On 26 October 2020, the district court ruled that he should not be released. Kursk Regional Court upheld this decision on 10 February 2021. He may submit a new application only after six months have passed.

 

We would appreciate that you draw the attention of the relevant authorities of your country to the case of Dennis Christensen and inform them of our call for his release.

 

Best regards.

 

Signatories:

 

 

 

 

 

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