RUSSIA: Freedom of religion or belief – Special bimonthly FORB (16.03-01.04-2022)

01.04.2022 – Over 60 places of worship in Ukraine, as well as sites of cultural heritage, have been attacked by the Russian invaders, with some totally destroyed
Five weeks into its war against Ukraine, Russia has bombed or shelled over sixty places of worship in at least eight oblasts (Kyiv; Donetsk; Luhansk; Kharkiv; Sumy; Zaporizhya and Zhytomyr). It has also destroyed or damaged many places of huge cultural significance.
31.03.2022 – In Omsk, the case of followers of “Tablighi Jamaat” was considered, the regional court toughened the sentence
In January, a court in Omsk fined three Tablighi Jamaat followers under Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code. The regional court changed the punishment and sentenced one of them to a real term, and two to a suspended sentence.
In March 2022, it became known that three followers of the Tablighi Jamaat Islamic movement, which is recognized as an extremist organization in Russia, were sentenced in the Omsk region.
The verdict was passed on January 13, 2022 by the Kirovsky District Court of Omsk.
28.03.2022 – A new criminal case against Jehovah’s Witnesses in Adygea. Nikolay Saparov, father of a minor child, was arrested
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On March 22, 2022, 40-year-old resident of Maikop Nikolay Saparov was detained at the airport in Mineralnye Vody. Two days later the Maykop City Court of the Republic of Adygeya chose him as a measure of restraint in the form of detention for a period of two months.
After Saparov was detained, his wife and underage daughter travelled home alone. The same night, Saparov’s home was searched and he was taken there accompanied by investigator Murat Shnakhov.
25.03.2022 – A series of searches of believers took place in the town of Balakovo. Five men were detained
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It is known about at least five searches, which took place in Balakovo in the evening of March 23, 2022. Detained were Aleksey Bogatov, 61, Vladimir Mavrin, 59, Sergey Tyurin, 27, Yevgeniy Fomashin, 44, and Oleg Yandutov, 52. Nothing is known about the alleged crime or the measure of restraint.
22.03.2022 – Three residents of Dagestan became suspects of participation in “Nurcular”
On March 22, 2022, the investigative department of the Russian Investigative Committee for Dagestan announced the initiation of a case under Part 2 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code (participation in the activities of an extremist organization) in relation to three residents of the republic.
According to investigators, from 2000 to 2017, the suspects participated in the activities of the Nurcular international religious association, which was recognized as extremist in 2008. They took part in meetings ” to study the ideological sources of the indicated extremist organization ,” the Investigative Committee claims.
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.
23.03.2022 – Russia sentences two Crimean Tatars to 17 and 13 years for talking about their faith
A Russian ‘court’ which has been imprisoning Ukrainian political prisoners since 2014 has sentenced two Crimean Tatars, both of whom were active in the Crimean Solidarity human rights movement, to 30 years’ imprisonment for conversations back in 2016 about their religious beliefs. Although it was another person, almost certainly an FSB agent, who initiated all the religious subjects on which the charges were based, and one of the men can be heard trying to politely end the conversation, the prosecution claimed that this was a ‘conspiratory’ meeting.
23.03.2022 – Russian Lutherans adopt survival positions
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“Unfortunately the press interprets a great deal in its own way”
The head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the European Part of Russia (ELCER), Archbishop Dietrich Brauer, in conversation with RIA Novosti, described how he left Russia on the invitation of the Evangelical Church in Germany (ECG) for prayer for peace and discussion with believers, lamenting that “the press interprets a great deal in its own way.”
22.03.2022 – At least two more searches were carried out in Kazan on families of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The believer is under a recognizance agreement
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On the morning of March 18, 2022, searches were carried out in Kazan in two families of Jehovah’s Witnesses. A criminal case was opened against 41-year-old Aleksey Gerasimov for his faith, he was placed under a recognizance agreement.
At 6:00 a.m., law enforcement officers invaded the homes of civilians. Electronic devices were confiscated from a large family with four children. The head of the family was interrogated for about 4 hours and then released.
21.03.2022 – An appeal in Chelyabinsk left unchanged Snezhinsk-Based Lyudmila Salikova’s, 70, sentence — A six-year suspended sentence for practicing her faith in Jehovah God
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On March 17, 2022, the Chelyabinsk Regional Court, with the participation of state prosecutor Sergey Gorshkov, considered the appeal of Lyudmila Salikova and approved the sentence—6 years of suspende sentence for believing in Jehovah God.
The panel of judges, chaired by Alexandr Rozhnov, considered the verdict of the first instance justified, despite the fact that there is not a single fact of the defendant committing extremist actions in the case file.
21.03.2022 – An appeal in Volgograd upholds the sentence of four Jehovah’s Witnesses
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On March 18, 2022, the Volgograd Regional Court upheld the conviction of Valeriy Rogozin, Igor Egozaryan, Denis Peresunko and Sergey Melnik. They will get jailed for their faith in Jehovah God.
In September 2021, the court of first instance sentenced Rogozin to 6 years and 5 months in a penal colony, Peresunko to 6 years and 3 months, and Melnik and Egozaryan to 6 years in a penal colony. The verdict has entered into force, but believers can appeal it in cassation.
17.03.2022 – Appellate courts tending to favor Jehovah’s Witnesses in central Russia
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In Sverdlovsk oblast, a high-profile criminal case against devotees of the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses (considered extremist and forbidden in Russia) Alexander Prianikov, Venera Dulovaya, and Darya Dulovaya ended in a verdict of acquittal. These persons were the first adherents of the movement in the region to come to the notice of law enforcement. The verdict may affect other cases that are also being considered by courts.
The case against the devotees of the Jehovah’s Witnesses from Karpinsk was begun back in 2018 and was the first in Sverdlovsk oblast from the time when the organization was ruled by the Russian Supreme Court to be extremist. The reason for the prosecution was the preaching of the defendants.
17.03.2022 – One of Jehovah’s Witnesses was detained in Moscow. His apartment in Kazan was searched
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On March 15, 2022, spouses Sergey and Yelena Gromov, Jehovah’s Witnesses from Kazan, were detained at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport. The 52-year-old believer was taken into custody, his wife was able to get home. The next day, their apartment was searched.