RUSSIA : Religious persecution and issues – Bimonthly March 16-31


29.03.2024 – Moscow region priest Alexander Vostrodymov is banned from ministry for “statements on the Internet”

Sova – On March 28, 2024, the rector of the Trinity Church in Dmitrov near Moscow, priest Alexander Vostrodymov, was banned from serving until Easter (May 5). The reason was his “inappropriate statements on the Internet.”

As of March 29, the corresponding decree was not yet available on the website of the Moscow diocese (regional).

In March 2022, Fr. Alexander signed an appeal from the clergy against military actions on the territory of Ukraine.

In January 2024, the ruler summoned him for a conversation and forbade him to speak publicly on political topics. Now, according to the priest, he is banned from ministry.

29.03.2024 – A court in Crimea fined the Muslim community “Eski Kyrym” for possessing prohibited literature

Sova – Earlier, books by Said Nursi and Takiuddin an-Nabhani were found in the Az-Zubeir mosque in Old Crimea.

On March 27, 2024, the Kirov District Court of Crimea fined the Muslim community “Eski Kyrym” 100 thousand rubles under Art. 20.29 Code of Administrative Offenses (mass distribution of extremist materials). Previously, the head of the community, Idris Yurdamov, was brought to justice for illegal missionary work, but his fine was canceled .

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29.03.2024- In Izhevsk, a case was initiated against the pastor under Art. 239 CC

Sova – On February 2, 2024, it became known that a case was being investigated in Izhevsk under Part 1 of Art. 239 of the Criminal Code (creation of a religious association whose activities involve violence against citizens or other harm to their health, as well as management of such an association). The accused is the head of a religious organization.

We are talking about the pastor of the Local religious organization of Christians of the evangelical faith (Pentecostals) “Church “Light of the World”” Sergei Artemyev.

According to the investigation, from 2019 to January 2024, as a pastor, he “conducted weekly services for parishioners on a paid basis, during which he deliberately, consciously used and systematically applied: methods of psychological influence on the individual, <…> psychological violence” for the purpose of “further receiving funds from parishioners” and extracting “financial profit from controlled adherents . ”

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28.03.2024 – In Cherkessk, a criminal case opened against the disabled Vladimir Fomin. He was placed in a pre-trial detention center

JW – On March 15, 2024, the case against one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Yuriy Yuskov, who will become 86 less than in a month, was completed in the Novocheboksarsk City Court of the Chuvash Republic. Judge Aleksandr Zubov sentenced him to 5 years of suspended sentence with a 4-year probation period and 1 year and 4 months of restriction of freedom.

According to the investigation, Yuriy Yuskov is guilty of participating in the activities of an extremist organization and involvement in it, as he “carried out preaching activities, conducting conversations and teaching religious teaching.” He was also accused, without evidence, of promoting the rupture of family relations. In response, the widower told about his marriage to Lyudmila, who did not share his religious views: “My wife and I lived as a family for 59 years and 43 days.

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27.03.2024 – Russia imposes personal sanctions against bishops of the UGCC in Canada

Risu – The Russian Federation has added 56 individuals from Canada to its sanctions list, who are now permanently banned from entering the territory of the aggressor country. Among them are bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

This was reported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation on its official website on March 22, according to the Information Department of the UGCC.

The ruling bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Toronto and Eastern Canada, Brian Bayda, heads the sanctions list. Also included are Bishop Lawrence Huculak, Archbishop and Metropolitan of Winnipeg, and Bishop David Motiuk, Eparchy of Edmonton.

The aggressor country imposed sanctions against citizens of Canada who are allegedly “actively involved in academic cooperation and pro-Banderite structures in a campaign to glorify Hitler’s henchmen from the OUN-UPA and the Galicia Division.” According to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the sanctions include “businessmen and company executives involved in supplying weapons to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as well as active participants in the [Canada’s] government-promoted Russophobic campaign.”


27.03.2024 – Russia, Jehovah’s Witness Tatyana Piskareva, 67, sentenced to 2 years and 6 months of forced labor

The European Times – Tatyana Piskareva, a pensioner from Oryol, was found guilty of participating in the activities of an “extremist” organization because of her faith. On March 1, 2024, Dmitriy Sukhov, judge of the Sovetskiy District Court of Oryol, sentenced her to 2 years and 6 months of forced labor.

Her case is part of the persecution of other family members: Tatyana’s husband, Vladimir, received 6 years in prison under an anti-extremism article of the criminal code and is now awaiting an appeal. He was arrested after searches in December 2020 and has been behind bars ever since. There he suffered several hypertension crises and a stroke; he was diagnosed with coronary artery disease. Tatyana said: “I wanted to help my husband when he had a crisis, and I could not help in any way. It was painful to watch the inaction of the pre-trial detention center.”

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27.03.2024 – Followers of the Alla-Ayat teachings were detained in the Rostov region

Sova – On March 27, 2023, it became known that six followers of the Alla-Ayat teaching were detained in Rostov-on-Don. The Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of Russia for the Rostov Region opened a criminal case under Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code.

The arrest was carried out by officers of the Federal Security Service of Russia for long-range and military transport aviation associations together with the Center for Combating Extremism (CPE) of the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia for the Rostov Region.

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27.03.2024 – Aliyev, Shulyarenko, Kriger and Zagulin will Remain in the Colony. The Court of Cassation upheld the harsh sentence for faith

JW – On March 27, 2024, the Ninth Court of Cassation of General Jurisdiction in Vladivostok did not satisfy the cassation appeal against the verdict of Alam Aliyev, Sergey Shulyarenko, Valeriy Kriger and Dmitriy Zagulin. They will continue to serve time in Blagoveshchensk for their faith in God.

Earlier, in December 2022, the court of first instance sentenced Aliyev to 6.5 years in prison, Shulyarenko and Kriger to 7 years each, and Zagulin to 3.5 years for allegedly organizing and financing extremist activities. An appeal in June 2023 reduced the prison sentences of Sergey Shulyarenko and Valeriy Kriger by only three months.

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21.03.2024 – The court ruled to demolish the Muslim prayer house in Troitsk as an illegal building

Sova – On September 18, 2023, the Moscow City Court confirmed the decision of the Troitsky District Court dated March 17, 2023 to recognize the Abu Bakr prayer house located in Troitsk as an illegal building and oblige the owner of the building to demolish it.

The Moscow City Property Department filed a lawsuit to declare the construction illegal in the Troitsky Court. The prayer house was built on a plot owned by a private individual in SNT. Since the purpose of the land is gardening, the court came to the conclusion that “the defendant does not have rights in relation to the land plot allowing both the construction of capital construction projects on it as a whole… and the construction of religious facilities . ”

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20.03.2024 – The Court of Cassation approved the prison terms for believers from Zeya: 6.5 and 6 years.

JW – On March 19, 2024, the judicial panel of the Ninth Court of Cassation of General Jurisdiction in Vladivostok rejected the complaint of Leonid Druzhinin and Yevgeniy Bitusov and approved the sentence of the first instance: 6.5 and 6 years in prison, respectively.

In their cassation appeals, the believers reminded the court that law enforcement agencies had not established a single fact that they had committed illegal activities. Also, not a single injured person was identified. The defendants’ lawyer stressed that “their motive was not extremist, but the intention to exercise the right to profess and spread their faith.” Convicts are characterized exclusively on the positive side. Bitusov has a dependent young daughter.

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21.03.2024 – A raid took place in the community of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Tsarist Empire; four believers were sent to pre-trial detention center

ira-nymphs – On the night of February 15, the police conducted a raid in the village of Aibashi (Ulyanovsk region), where there is a community of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Tsarist Empire (ROC CI), which shares the idea of ​​a “tsar-redeemer”; four believers were sent to a pre-trial detention center. The abbess of the Russian Orthodox Church Evdokia (Anna Stryukova) told OVD-Info about this.

According to Abbess Evdokia, the police beat the monks, humiliating and insulting them and mocking their faith. Security forces broke furniture, cut down doors and windows, and also desecrated holy places: they beat icons with batons and trampled on them.

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19.03.2024 – “Extremism” prosecutions of elderly Jehovah’s Witnesses

Forum 18 – Courts have convicted 467 Jehovah’s Witnesses from 2017 up to 18 March 2024, and ultimately acquitted none. Over a quarter of the Jehovah’s Witnesses prosecuted have been aged 60 or older, with 12 individuals aged at least 80. The sentences imposed have ranged from heavy fines to some of the longest prison terms – of 7 years or more – handed down to Jehovah’s Witnesses. On 15 March, 72-year-old Sergey Vasilyev became the oldest Jehovah’s Witness currently imprisoned for exercising his right to freedom of religion and belief after he was sentenced to 3 years’ imprisonment.

Since Russia’s Supreme Court ordered the liquidation of Jehovah’s Witness organisations in 2017 and outlawed their activities as “extremist”, more than 760 people have faced prosecution under Criminal Code Article 282.2 for “organising” (Part 1), or “participating in” (Part 2) the activities of a banned “extremist” organisation.

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