Searches, seizures, fear tactics in Chelyabinsk Region

JW Russia (26.03.2019) – – On March 26, 2019, in the town of Yemanzhelinsk (Chelyabinsk Region) at about 7 a.m., there was a soft knock at the door of the apartment where the couple Pavel and Elena Popov live. When they opened the door, they saw about 10 people in masks with assault weapons and a sledge hammer for breaking the door out.


The Popovs were informed that a search would be conducted in their home due to the fact that they profess the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their computer, phones, tablets, family photos, books and international passports were confiscated. After the search, the pair was taken away for questioning in another city. According to law enforcement officers, whether they will be detained, “depends on how they will cooperate.” (Law enforcers across the country threaten believers to intimidate them into incriminating themselves or others by “confessing” that they are carrying out extremist activities.)


Earlier, after the Jan. 11, 2007, decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the Russian Federation admitted that it had violated the rights of 150 deaf Jehovah’s Witnesses of Chelyabinsk due to the disruption of their worship, and paid 30,000 euros for moral damages and 60,544 euros for legal costs. The ECHR ruling on this case, known as Kuznetsov and Others v. Russia, states: “It is undeniable that the collective study and discussion of religious texts by the members of the religious group of Jehovah’s Witnesses was a recognized form of manifestation of their religion in worship and teaching.”


New searches and detentions in Kirov


JW Russia (26.03.2019) – – On the morning of March 26, 2019, a wave of new searches began in Kirov in the homes of citizens thought to be Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is known there were searches in at least 10 apartments. Several people were  detained and a criminal investigation is proceeding against Aleksandr Shamov, 58; Andrey Shchepin, 27, and Evgeniy Udintsev, 70.


Earlier, in October 2018, after raids on the houses of believers in Kirov, five people were arrested and sent to the detention center. Currently, three of them are under house arrest, and two have been languishing in prison for 169 days, one a citizen of Poland, Andrzej Oniszczuk. The only basis for prosecution is their confession. (The Polish consulate keeps track of what is happening with Andrzej Oniszczuk.)


In Primorsky territory, the court tmprisons two Witnesses


JW Russia (21.03.2019) – – On March 19, 2019, a court decided to send two Jehovah’s Witnesses, Sergey Sergeyev, who is 63 years of age, and Yuriy Belosludtsev, both from the village of Luchegorsk, to a detention center. They have been ordered to remain there for two months. Originally detained during searches carried out on March 17, 2019, they were taken to the town of Dalnerechensk. According to preliminary information received after the court hearing, they will be held in a jail facility in the town of Spassk-Dalny.


Case of Sergeyev and Belosludtsev in Luchegorsk


Region: Primorsky Region
Locality: Luchegorsk
Case number: [to be determined]
Current stage: preliminary investigation (pre-trial proceedings)
Suspected of: [to be determined]
Article of the Russian Criminal Code: [to be determined]
Case initiated: [to be determined]
Investigating: [to be determined]



New criminal cases for faith along the Chinese border

JW Russia (21.03.2019) – – On March 21, 2019, at least five searches were carried out in the town of Zeya (Amur Region) in the homes of local residents who are considered to be Jehovah’s Witnesses. A criminal case was initiated under the article on the organization of the activities of an extremist organization. Konstantin Moiseenko, 42, was named as a suspect and ordered not to leave.


Shortly before, on March 17, 2019, searches of the homes of believers were held in Luchegorsk(Primorsky Territory). Local residents Yuriy Belosludtsev and Sergey Sergeyev were sent to the detention center. They were accused of violating the article on the organization of the activities of an extremist organization on the grounds that the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation in an all-inclusive ruling banned 396 organizations of Jehovah’s Witnesses, including the local religious organization in Luchegorsk.


Searches and criminal case for faith in Severodvinsk

JW-Russia (20.03.2019) – – On March 13, 2019, in Severodvinsk (Arkhangelsk Region), searches were carried out in the homes of at least seven citizens suspected of practicing the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses. A criminal case was opened against Vladimir Teterin, 61, and Sergey Potilitsyn, 37. Vladimir Teterin signed a recognizance agreement promising to appear in court at a future date.


Searches were conducted by several Federal Security Service (FSB) investigators, including P. Yuriev, I. Kozodubov and I. Mironov. The Severodvinsk City Court sanctioned the searches. Some Witnesses were taken to the city of Arkhangelsk, where they were interrogated at the FSB Directorate. After the interrogations, which continued until the late night hours, all were released.


Case of Teterin and Others in Severodvinsk 

Region: Arkhangelsk Region
Locality: Severodvinsk
Case number: 11907110001000008
Current stage: preliminary investigation (pre-trial proceedings)
Suspected of: 282.2(1): according to the investigation, together with others he conducted religious services, which is interpreted as organising the activity of an extremist organisation (with reference to the decision of the Russian Supreme Court on the liquidation of all 396 registered organisations of Jehovah’s Witnesses)
Article of the Russian Criminal Code: 282.2(1)
Case initiated: [to be determined]
Investigating: Investigative Department of the Directorate of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of Russia for the Arkhangelsk Region


Mass searches in homes of witnesses in Magadan

JW-Russia (20.03.2019) – – The morning of March 20, 2019, for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Magadan began with their homes being invaded by FSB officers. At least four residences were known to be searched, but possibly five more houses were searched and their occupants taken to the offices of the Federal Security Service (FSB) for interrogation. According to law enforcement officers, nine new criminal cases were initiated in the city for the Witnesses’ belief in God. Earlier, on May 30, 2018, a criminal case was opened in the cityand four believers were sent to prison for several months. Now they are under house arrest.

During searches, all electronic devices were seized from citizens: tablets, smartphones, laptops, cameras, all memory cards and flash drives, as well as notebooks and other personal items. The search in the Solntsev family home took place in the presence of their nine-year-old child.


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