RUSSIA: Freedom of religion or belief – Special Bimonthly FORB Digest (01–15.06.2022)

14.06.2022 – Old Believer community in Simferopol fined for “illegal” missionary work

Sova center – On May 30, 2022, the Magistrate Court of Court District No. 16 of the Central Judicial District of Simferopol fined the Orthodox Old Believer community of the city under Part 3 of Art. 5.26 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (carrying out by a religious organization of activities without indicating its official full name, including the release or distribution of literature with incomplete or deliberately false labeling as part of missionary activities). The amount of the fine was 30 thousand rubles.

The protocol was drawn up based on the results of a prosecutor’s check, which established that the community carried out missionary activities on the Internet without indicating its full name in the published video and audio materials.


10.06.2022 – A criminal case has been initiated in connection with an act of vandalism at a rural cemetery in Tatarstan

Sova Center – On June 10, 2022, on the fact of desecration of an Orthodox burial place at the cemetery of the village of Aktanysh, Aktanysh district, a case was initiated under clause “b” part 2 of article 244 of the Criminal Code (desecration of the bodies of the dead and their burial places based on political, ideological, racial, national or religious hatred or enmity, or motivated by hatred or enmity against any social group) .

Recall that vandals have already cut down a cross on this grave in 2021

09.06.2022 – Crucial judgement for Jehovah’s Witnesses as Russia tries to deny ECHR jurisdiction for its war crimes in Ukraine

The European Court of Human Rights has found Russia’s ban of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to be unlawful and has ordered, among other things, that Russia discontinue current proceedings and release those imprisoned for their faith. The judgement in the Case of Taganrog and Others vs. Russia was made public on 7 June, 2022, and joins 20 applications from believers lodged between 2010 and 2019. The Court’s ruling could not be clearer, but it is belated and, unfortunately, very likely to be ignored.

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10.06.2022 – Russia’s persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses: Unlawful, the European Court of Human Rights says

On June 7, 2022, the European Court of Human Rights in the case “Taganrog LRO and Others v. Russia” rendered a historic decision that declared the Russian liquidation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the repression of this religious organization in Russia unlawful. The decision concerned twenty different cases about the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, which were consolidated. “Taganrog LRO” refers to the local branch of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Taganrog, in the Rostov Oblast, whose liquidation was ordered in 2009.

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08.06.2022 – European court sides with Jehovah’s Witnesses

Europe’s highest human rights court ordered Moscow to overturn its ban on the country’s Jehovah’s Witnesses Tuesday, just hours before Russian lawmakers passed legislation ending its jurisdiction.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said Tuesday that Russia violated 1,444 worshippers’ right to religious freedom when it declared the Christian organization an “extremist” group in 2017.

“The court found that the definition of ‘extremism’ was overly broad in Russian law and had been misused for the prosecution of believers or religious ministers on the basis of the content of their beliefs alone,” the ECHR ruled.

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08.06.2022 – In Naberezhnye Chelny, the case of three alleged followers of Said Nursi was brought to court

On June 8, 2022, the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee for the Republic of Tatarstan announced that the case of three residents of Naberezhnye Chelny, accused of chch. 1 and 2 Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code (organization of activities of an extremist organization and participation in such) in involvement in the banned religious association “Nurcular”.

Obviously, we are talking about Khunar Agaev, Aidar Sageev and Amrakh Akhmedov, who were detained on November 23 and arrested on November 25, 2021.

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07.06.2022 – A criminal case against three Jehovah’s Witnesses has been closed in Severodvinsk. No crime was found

Link to full text in Russian:

On May 17, 2022, the criminal case against Vladimir Teterin, Andrey Maksimovich and Sergey Potylitsyn was closed in the Arkhangelsk Region. Their criminal case was dismissed due to the absence of corpus delicti, the money and car were no longer arrested.

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06.06.2022 – Vyazemsky-Based Yegor Baranov received a five-year suspended sentence for holding discussions about the Bible

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On June 6, 2022, Marina Kuklina, a judge of the Central District Court of Chita, sentenced Vladimir Ermolaev and Alexander Putintsev to 6.5 years, and Igor Mamalimov to 6 years in a colony, they were taken into custody. Sergei Kirilyuk received 6 years probation.

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06.06.2022 – A court in Chita sentenced three Jehovah’s Witnesses to 6 to 6.5 years in prison, another received a suspended sentence for believing in God

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On June 6, 2022, Marina Kuklina, a judge of the Central District Court of Chita, sentenced Vladimir Ermolaev and Alexander Putintsev to 6.5 years, and Igor Mamalimov to 6 years in a colony, they were taken into custody. Sergei Kirilyuk received 6 years probation.

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06.06.2022 – Six Jehovah’s Witnesses in Kirov, including a Polish citizen, received suspended sentences for reading the Bible

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On June 3, 2022, the judge of the Pervomayskiy District Court of Kirov, Timur Yusupov, convicted six believers and sentenced them to 2.5 to 6.5 years of suspended imprisonment, considering the reading and discussion of the Bible as extremism.

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03.06.2022 – Russians do not spare monastery of Moscow patriarchate

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On 3 June 2022, in the Dormition cathedral of the Sviatogorsk lavra, Metropolitan of Sviatogorsk Arseny conducted the service of the burial of monastics who perished during shelling of the cloister. This was reported by the press service of the Donetsk diocese on its Facebook page.

The monks and parishioners of the cloister conducted on their final journey the dean of the lavra, Arkhimandrite Galaktion; the monk Aristoklij; and the nun Barbara.

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01.06.2022 –  Renewed criminal trials of Muslim Nursi readers

Three Muslims who met with others to study the works of theologian Said Nursi are on criminal trial on “extremism” charges in Izberbash, Dagestan. Judges closed similar cases with the “active repentance” of the defendants, the court claims. “People have been persuaded or forced to sign confessions by intimidation and deception,” says a fellow Muslim. Other criminal cases continue in Dagestan and Tatarstan. Criminal cases against almost 200 Jehovah’s Witnesses are in court. On 1 June, a Vladivostok court handed six Jehovah’s Witnesses suspended sentences.

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