RUSSIA: Special bimonthly Freedom of religion or belief (16-30.09.2022)


30.09.2022 – 100th Jehovah’s Witness sent to jail in Russia: 44-year-old Dmitry Dolzhikov is in a pre-trial detention center in Novosibirsk

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As of September 30, 2022, there are 95 men and 5 women who profess the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses behind bars. Of these, 32 people are in the colony, 68 people are in the pre-trial detention center. The 100th prisoner was Dmitry Dolzhikov, who was arrested after a raid on Jehovah’s Witnesses in Chelyabinsk.

On September 2, 2022, the case against Dolzhikov was opened by investigator Alexander Chepenko, a colonel of justice known for the criminal prosecution of believers in the Chelyabinsk region.

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29.09.2022 – Jehovah’s Witnesses searched in Crimea

Sova Center – On September 28, 2022, the homes of at least eight Jehovah’s Witnesses living in the settlements of Nizhnegorsky and Krasnogvardeyskoye (Crimea) were searched. Two believers – 50-year-old Sergei Parfenovich and 49-year-old Alexander Vinichenko – were detained and taken to Simferopol. A case was initiated against Parfenovich under Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code (organization of the activities of an extremist organization or participation in it).

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26.09.2022 – 200 people on criminal trial for exercising freedom of religion or belief

Forum 18 – Nearly 200 Jehovah’s Witnesses and 9 Muslims who meet to study the works of the late Turkish theologian Said Nursi are currently on criminal trial on charges of “continuing the activities” of organisations which Russian courts have banned as “extremist”. If convicted, they could be imprisoned for up to a decade, spend years under the multiple restrictions of a suspended sentence, or pay fines of up to one year’s average wage.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are still facing criminal conviction and possible imprisonment for exercising their freedom of religion and belief in spite of the issuance, in October 2021, of amended guidance for judges in extremism-related cases.

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23.09.2022 – Case of Jehovah’s Witness Krieger sent for retrial

Sova center – On September 22, 2022, the court of the Jewish Autonomous Region reconsidered the appeal against the sentence of Jehovah’s Witness Natalya Krieger, convicted under Part 2 of Art. 282.2 (participation in the activities of an extremist organization). The verdict was canceled, the case was sent to the Birobidzhan District Court for a new trial.

On July 30, 2021, Birobidzhansky sentenced Krieger to two and a half years of suspended imprisonment, and on November 25, 2021, the Court of the Jewish Autonomous Region approved this sentence. However, in August 2022, the Ninth Cassation Court of General Jurisdiction annulled the appeal ruling of the EAO court.

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22.09.2022 – The prosecutor’s office requested five years in prison for a Jehovah’s Witness from the Khabarovsk Territory

Sova Center – On September 21, 2022, during a debate in the Solnechny District Court of the Khabarovsk Territory, a representative of the prosecutor’s office asked the court to appoint Boris Yagovitov, a Jehovah’s Witness, accused of chch. 1.1 and 2 Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code (involvement in the activities of an extremist organization and participation in it), five years in prison with restriction of freedom for two years and eleven months.

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21.09.2022 – New Creation Church: Evangelical Church accused of “brainwashing” in Russia

Bitter Winter – On September 14, 2022, the trial of Stanislav Moskvitin, pastor of the Apostolic Center Church “New Creation” started in Omsk, Russia.

On July 18, 2021, his place of worship, the basement floor of an office building in the center of Omsk, had been raided by the FSB. Parishioners described the raid as quite unexpected. Masked security officers entered the premises of New Creation and detained Moskvitin.

Moskvitin launched his church in 2014, and registered it in 2016, after a training in Seattle, Washington under Pastor Andrey Shapovalov, who runs the Transformation Center Church, a large nondenominational Slavic Evangelical community. Shapovalov has cooperated with Aleksey Ledyaev, the founder of the Latvian New Generation Church, whose Russian communities have been recently raided by FSB and even accused of being involved in espionage and sabotage operations on behalf of the Ukrainian intelligence.

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21.09.2022 – The Court sentenced six of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Gukovo to 6.5 to 7 years in prison for talking about God

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On September 19, 2022, the judge of the Gukovo City Court of the Rostov Region, Natalya Batura, sentenced Aleksey Goreliy and Oleg Shidlovskiy to 6.5 years in penal colony; Nikita Moiseyev, Aleksey Dyadkin, Vladimir Popov and Yevgeniy Razumov each received 7 years in penal colony.

The court considered it a crime to take part in peaceful religious meetings, pray and perform religious songs.

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21.09.2022 – Disabled Jehovah’s Witness sentenced to probation in Primorsky Territory

Sova Center – On September 20, 2022, the Partizan City Court of Primorsky Krai found 53-year-old Jehovah’s Witness Liya Maltseva guilty under Part 2 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code (participation in the activities of an extremist organization). She was sentenced to two years and three months’ imprisonment with a suspended sentence of seven months.The case against the believer was opened in August 2020. The fact that the case was brought to court became known in June 2021.

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20.09.2022 – Jehovah’s Witnesses sentenced to real terms in the Rostov Region

Sova Center – On September 20, 2022, the Gukovsky City Court of the Rostov Region passed a sentence on six Jehovah’s Witnesses who were charged under Part 1 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code (organization of the activities of an extremist organization). The court found all defendants guilty and appointed real terms of imprisonment.

Vladimir Popov, Aleksey Dyadkin, Yevgeny Razumov and Nikita Moiseev each received seven years in prison in a penal colony with a five-year ban on organizational activities in public and religious associations and with a one-year restriction of freedom. Aleksey Gorely and Oleg Shidlovsky were each sentenced to six and a half years in prison, also with a five-year ban on organizational activities in public and religious associations and with restriction of freedom for a year.

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