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RUSSIA: Special bimonthly FORB digest (01-15.04.2022)

14.04.2022 – The Court did not satisfy the appeal of three of Jehovah’s witnesses from Cheboksary. They are fined for their beliefs
Link to full text in Russian: https://jw-russia.org/news/2022/04/140845.html
On April 13, 2022, the Supreme Court of the Chuvash Republic approved fines against Vladimir Dutkin, Vladimir Chesnokov and Valeriy Yakovlev. Peaceful religious practice by Jehovah’s Witnesses was equated by the court with extremist activity.
Earlier, the Kalininskiy District Court of Cheboksary sentenced believers to fines ranging from 400,000 to 500,000 rubles. The verdict has entered into force. The convicts consider it unfair and insist on their innocence.
12.04.2022 – A Sochi Court convicts four Jehovah’s witnesses, including a woman
Link to full text in Russian: https://jw-russia.org/news/2022/04/120939.html
It became known that on March 28, 2022 the judge of Khostinsky District Court of Sochi Konstantin Sidoruk found four of local Jehovah’s Witnesses guilty of extremism. Two of them were sentenced to a penal colony, but they have already served their sentences in the pre-trial detention center. Another two were given suspended sentences by the court.
12.04.2022 – RUSSIA: 71 known “missionary activity” prosecutions in 2021 – list
Forum 18 found 71 prosecutions in 2021 (4 of organisations and 67 of individuals) for violating Russia’s July 2016 Administrative Code Article 5.26, Parts 4 and 5, which punish “illegal missionary activity”. 44 of the prosecutions resulted in initial convictions, all being punished with fines (though 7 were overturned on appeal). In 2021 there was a conviction rate of 85 per cent. Of the 15 foreigners prosecuted, 4 were fined, of whom 3 were also ordered deported.
12.04.2022 – RUSSIA: 37 known “missionary activity” prosecutions in second half of 2020 – list
Forum 18 found 37 prosecutions in the second half of 2020 (3 of organisations and 34 of individuals) for violating Russia’s July 2016 Administrative Code Article 5.26, Parts 4 and 5, which punish “illegal missionary activity”. 27 of the prosecutions resulted in initial convictions, all being punished with fines (though 3 were overturned on appeal). The second half of 2020 saw a conviction rate of 84 per cent. Neither of the two convicted and fined foreigners was ordered deported.
11.04.2022 – RUSSIA: “Virtually anything can be deemed to be unlawful missionary work”
In the 18 months from July 2020 to December 2021, Forum 18 found 108 prosecutions on administrative charges of unlawful “missionary activity” to punish a wide range of activities, including worship meetings for fellow believers. Prosecutions continued in 2022, with a judge fining and ordering deported a Tajik citizen for leading Muslim prayers. The legislation on missionary activity is “formulated in such a way that virtually anything can be deemed to be unlawful missionary work”, comments Olga Sibiryova of SOVA Centre.
11.04.2022 – Krasnoyarsk Regional Court confirmed Anton Ostapenko’s sentence: a six-year suspended sentence for believing in Jehovah God
Link to full text in Russian: https://jw-russia.org/news/2022/04/111426.html
On April 7, 2022, the Krasnoyarsk Regional Court did not satisfy the appeal against the sentence of Jehovah’s Witness Anton Ostapenko and upheld the sentence of the court of first instance—6 years and 3 months of suspended imprisonment with a probationary period of 4 years and 1.5 years of additional restrictions.
11.04.2022 – An appeal in Primorye overturned the acquittal of Dmitriy Barmakin. The case is sent for retrial.
Link to full text in Russian: https://jw-russia.org/news/2022/04/111417.html
On April 8, 2022, a panel of judges of the Primorye Territory Court chaired by Tatyana Myshkina granted the prosecutor’s appeal against the acquittal Dmitriy Barmakin, one of Jehovah’s witnesses. The verdict was canceled, the case was sent for a new trial to the court of first instance.
09.04.2022 – Russian Court nullifies acquittal of Jehovah’s witness
A court in Russia has nullified the acquittal of a Jehovah’s witness and sent his case for retrial amid an ongoing crackdown on the followers of the religious group.
The Primorye regional court in Russia’s Far East ruled on April 8 that Dmitry Barmakin’s acquittal in November was wrong, claiming that materials collected by investigators suggest he was involved in the “organization of an extremist group’s activities.”
07.04.2022 – Believers were again searched in Kazan. Two men were interrogated.
Link to full text in Russian: https://jw-russia.org/news/2022/04/071627.html
Early in the morning of April 6, 2022, searches were again carried out in Kazan at the homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses at at least two addresses. 28-year-old Aleksey Yermakov and 32-year-old Ivan Minin were taken for interrogation to the Center for Combating Extremism (CPE). Aleksey Gerasimov was interrogated there two weeks earlier.
07.04.2022 – An appeal overturned Seversk-based Aleksey Yershov’s initial prison term for practicing one’s faith and replaced it with a three-year suspended sentence
Link to full text in Russian: https://jw-russia.org/news/2022/04/071620.html
On April 7, 2022, a panel of judges of the Tomsk Regional Court chaired by Andrey Kaplyuk commuted the sentence of Aleksey YErshov from Seversk. Instead of 3 years in prison, the 69-year-old Jehovah’s Witness was given 3 years of suspended sentence. The verdict has entered into force.
07.04.2022 – Homes of Jehovah’s witnesses in Sosnovoborsk, Krasnoyarsk Territory, were searched; one of the believers is behind bars
Link to full text in Russian: https://jw-russia.org/news/2022/04/071053.html
On March 29, 2022, in the city of Sosnovoborsk, 40 km from Krasnoyarsk, searches and interrogations were carried out in 5 families of Jehovah’s Witnesses. A criminal case was opened for faith against 55-year-old Yuri Yakovlev.
Yakovlev is accused of a crime under Part 1 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation “on the fact of organizing the activities of a religious association … in connection with the implementation of extremist activities.”
05.04.2022 – Matryona Spiriadi, 68, and Aleksandr Vergunov, 24, based in Abakan, were each handed a two-and-a-half-year suspended sentence for reading the Bible
Link to full text in Russian: https://jw-russia.org/news/2022/04/051433.html
On April 4, 2022, the judge of the Abakan City Court, Yuriy Lotsky, sentenced Matrena Spiriadi and Aleksandr Vergunov to 2.5 years of suspended sentence. By its decision, the court equated the discussion of the Bible among friends with participation in the activities of an extremist organization.
03.04.2022 – Moscow patriarch repeats propaganda regarding war
Link to full text in Russian: https://irp.news/patriarh-rossija-i-ee-narod-miroljubivye-i-mnogostradalnye/
Russians do not have a desire for war or for doing something that could cause harm to others. Russia and its people are peace-loving and longsuffering, Patriarch Kirill said at the main church of the armed forces of the Russian Federation, and he urged the army and people to realize the “historic importance of the moment.”
Patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus Kirill urged Russian service personnel to be faithful to their oath to the end and “to realize the historic importance” of current events, and urged the whole people to understand that a special time has arrived upon which its fate may depend. The patriarch spoke about this on Sunday after the liturgy in the main church of the Armed Forces of the R.F.
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