HRWF (21.11.2016) – More and more congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia are being searched by police for banned religious literature, usually magazines and booklets for their spiritual edification. These are typically distributed all over the world without any problem. It is feared that the final objective of the Russian authorities is to ban the whole organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the country for “repeatedly violating the law”.

In Kostomuksha, the Community of Jehovah’s Witnesses has been fined


On 14th October 2016, the local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Kostomuksha was fined by the City Court of Kostomuksha (50,000 rubles) for the distribution and possession of “extremist” material.


The search conducted at the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ meeting house in the city of Kostomuksha took place at the end of July. The believers stated that the banned material had been planted by local authorities. On the same day, another search was conducted in their place of worship in the City of Petrozavodsk. This congregation was fined 50,000 rubles on 3 October 2016.


Source: Sova Center


In Saransk, a raid was conducted on the premises of a Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall

On 13 October 2016, a raid was conducted on a local Jehovah’s Witness meeting place by the city authorities and banned literature was found.


According to statements given by those present, this literature was planted by the police during the search:


“This search was conducted by the inspector of the fire department who was also accompanied by twenty other individuals in masks and uniforms. During the search, these individuals turned their backs to the church security cameras, forming a wall so as to obscure any view of what might be taking place. Later, in this exact location where they had done this, banned material was found”.


The inspector confiscated not only the banned literature, but also the surveillance footage from the church security cameras and the mobile phones of all present during the search.

The type of brochures that were allegedly found and confiscated has not been revealed to the public and currently remains unknown.


We want to remind you that the Community of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Saransk received a warning regarding the inadmissibility of extremist activities based on the possession of this forbidden literature.


Source: Sova Center

Local Jehovah’s Witnesses in Birobidzhan are banned

On 12 October 2016, the Community of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the region of Birobidzhan was labeled an extremist organization for having possessed “illegal” literature and was banned in the region by decision of a regional court.


The chairman for the community of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Birobidzhan has refused to recognize this ruling by the courts and is making plans to appeal to the Supreme Court the Russian Federation.


Source: Sova Center

Inhabitant of Ivanovo Oblast was fined for posting a Jehovah’s Witnesses audiobook on social media

On 29 September 2016, a 20-year old resident of the Ivanovo Region was fined 1000 rubles by the Teykovskey regional court for the possession of extremist material with the purpose of mass distribution. On his social media page, he posted an audio book named the Good News from God, which had been prohibited and added to the federal list of banned materials in 2013.


Source: Sova Center


These news were collected and adapted in English by Scott and Olga Allen for Human Rights Without Frontiers


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