Religious issues & persecution – Bimonthly Digest Dec. 01-15


 15.12.2023 – Believers were searched in Vladivostok. One was beaten, the other was arrested


JW – On December 7, 2023, searches were carried out in Vladivostok at at least five addresses of believers, including the home of an elderly man. A believer, 19, was detained and placed in a pre-trial detention center for 2 months, while another man was beaten by security forces.


Demanding to give the password from the phone, the man was hit several times with a rubber truncheon. Later, he went to the emergency room, where he was diagnosed with a bruise of internal organs. He needs treatment.

During interrogation by the Investigative Committee, believers were asked questions about their religious beliefs, as well as about their participation in Jehovah’s Witnesses worship services. They were also required to incriminate co-religionists.


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14.12.2023 – In Crimea, a case has been opened against an imam for “illegal missionary”


Sova – On December 13, 2023, a search was conducted in the house of Imam Ismail Yurdamov from the village of Juma Eli (Privetnoye) in the Kirov region of Crimea. A case was initiated against the imam under Part 4 of Art. 5.26 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation (carrying out missionary activities in violation of the requirements of legislation on freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and religious associations).


The search was carried out by employees of the Center for Combating Extremism of the local Ministry of Internal Affairs.

According to Yurdamov’s daughter Gulsum, the reason for the persecution of the imam was that he actively supports Crimean political prisoners.



12.12.2023 – In St. Petersburg, the Awakening of Nations Church was fined for collaborating with an undesirable organization


Sova – On December 4, 2023, the Kalininsky District Court of St. Petersburg fined the local religious organization Church of Evangelical Christians “Awakening Nations” for cooperation with an undesirable organization (Article 20.33 of the Administrative Code).

The audit established that in August 2023 the church took part in the activities of the international religious organization “Transformation Center Church International (TCCI), Transformation Center Covenant Network TCCN USA”, included in the list of non-governmental organizations whose activities are recognized as undesirable in territory of the Russian Federation.

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12.12.2023 – The Investigative Committee inspects the activities of the Muslim prayer house in Korolev


Sova – On December 10, 2023, it became known that the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation began checking the activities of a religious organization of Muslims in Korolev, near Moscow.

Local residents were outraged by the activities of the prayer house, located on the territory of a sawmill. The townspeople are dissatisfied with the large number of migrants coming to the house of worship and believe that the organization operates illegally on the territory of the plant.


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11.12.2023 – In Neryungri, the building of Jehovah’s Witnesses has been converted into the property of the Russian Federation


Sova – On December 11, 2023, it became known that the building of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Neryungri had been transferred into state ownership.

Shortly before the decision to recognize the central and local organizations of Jehovah’s Witnesses as extremist, the building of the Kingdom Hall in Neryungri was donated to the religious organization Jehovah’s Witnesses in Austria. In November 2023, the court declared the donation agreement invalid.



08.12.2023 – The Moscow City Court approved the sentence for the followers of Said Nursi


Sova – Six defendants in the case were found guilty of involvement in the banned association “Nurcular”. The verdict came into force.

As it became known on December 8, 2023, on November 8, the Moscow City Court approved the sentence passed in the summer against six followers of Said Nursi. The defendants will have to serve different terms of imprisonment in a colony.


The verdict in the case of involvement in the Nurcular association, recognized as an extremist organization, was handed down on June 27, 2023 by the Kuzminsky District Court of Moscow. The accused Evgeny Tarasov under Part 1 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code (organizing the activities of an extremist organization) was sentenced to six and a half years in a general regime colony with a four-year ban on the leadership of religious organizations and participation in them.


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08.12.2023 – Aleksey Gerasimov, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses from Kazan, sentenced to six years in prison for talking about the Bible


JW- On December 7, 2023, the consideration of the criminal case against one of Jehovah’s Witnesses Aleksey Gerasimov was completed in the Kirovsky District Court of Kazan. Judge Anna Kryuchenkova sentenced the believer to 6 years of imprisonment for reading the Bible with friends. He is taken into custody in the courtroom.


In September 2022, law enforcement officers accused the believer of organizing the activities of an extremist organization (Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). The decision to initiate a criminal case stated that unidentified persons “involved individual residents of Kazan” in religious activities, “gave lectures and showed videos promoting the ideas of the religious organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses.” The investigation was conducted by the investigator of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Republic of Tatarstan A. A. Giniyatullin, and in January 2023 the case was transferred to the court, where it was considered for almost another year.

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08.12.2023 – Russia bans Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Catholic ministries


UCA news – Russian occupation authorities have banned the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and other Catholic ministries in occupied areas of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, according to the church’s main communications office in Kyiv.


The UGCC announced on its website on Dec. 7 that it had obtained a copy of an order signed by Yevgeny Balitsky, the Kremlin-installed head of the area’s military-civil administration, declaring that the UGCC had been banned and its property was to be transferred to his administration.


Also banned by the order were the Knights of Columbus and Caritas, the official humanitarian arm of the universal Catholic Church.


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05.12.2023 – A Court in Surgut ruled in a high-profile case of 18 Jehovah’s Witnesses, some of whom had previously been tortured


JW – On December 5, 2023, the high-profile trial against Jehovah’s Witnesses from Surgut came to an end. Dmitriy Lupin, a judge of the Surgut City Court, found 18 believers guilty of extremism and sentenced all to suspended sentences ranging from 4 to 7 years.


Sergey Loginov and Timofey Zhukov received the longest suspended sentence — 7 years. Yevgeniy Kayryak received 6 years and 10 months; Leonid Rysikov — 6 years and 9 months; Pavel Romashov — 6 years and 7 months; Vyacheslav Boronos, Saveliy Gargalyk, Artem Kim, Igor Trifonov, Yevgeniy Fedin — 6 years and 6 months; Igor Petrov — 6 years and 5 months; Vasiliy Burenesku, Sergey Volosnikov, Igor Kobotov and Viktor Fefilov — 6 years and 4 months; Aleksey Plekhov and Artur Severinchik — 6 years and 3 months.


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05.12.2023 – Debate on the case of nine Jehovah’s Witnesses took place in Irkutsk


Sova – The prosecutor asks that all believers be sentenced to imprisonment.

On December 4, 2023, the Oktyabrsky District Court of Irkutsk held a debate between the parties in the case of nine Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Eight believers were detained in Irkutsk and the region in October October and December 2021, Denis Sarazhakov – in December of the same year in Khakassia. Everyone except 70-year-old Sergei Vasilyev, who was sent under house arrest, was placed in a pre-trial detention center; in relation to another accused, the criminal case was separated into separate proceedings, and he was put on the federal wanted list. Yaroslav Kalin, Sergei Kosteev, Nikolai Martynov, Mikhail Moish, Igor Popov, Denis Sarazhakov, Alexei Solnechny and Andrei Tolmachev were charged under Part 1 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code (organizing the activities of an extremist organization), Sergei Vasiliev – under Part 2 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code (participation in the activities of an extremist organization).


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01.12.2023 – The court confirmed the sentence of Jehovah’s Witness from Prokopyevsk


Sova – Yuri Chernykh was found guilty under Part 2 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code and sentenced to forced labor.


On November 28, 2023, the Kemerovo Regional Court considered the appeal against the sentence of Jehovah’s Witness Yuri Chernykh and left it unchanged. Chernykh was found guilty under Part 2 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code (participation in the activities of an extremist organization) and was sentenced to three years of forced labor with 15% of earnings withheld. The verdict was handed down on September 28, 2023 by the Central District Court of Prokopyevsk.


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