Russia: Two Jehovah’s Witnesses sentenced to four years in prison
HRWF (02.09.2020) – Today, the Berezovsky City Court of the Kemerovo Region sentenced two Jehovah’s Witnesses, 55-year-old Sergey Britvin and 48-year-old Vadim Levchuk, to four years in prison. The prosecution had asked for six and a half years. The men will appeal their conviction.
Jarrod Lopes, spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses, states: “Today, Judge Irina Vorobieva sentenced Sergey and Vadim to four years in prison. Such a sentence is patently absurd, especially when you consider that conviction for kidnapping in Russia carries a maximum of five years; and rape, three to six. Human right bodies from the EU, U.K., U.S., and the UN have repeatedly called on Russia to stop the systematic persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Yet, Russian authorities have persisted, raiding over 330 homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses already this year. Undeterred even by COVID-19, Russia continues to subject peaceful family men like Sergey and Vadim to the unsanitary and potentially deadly confines of prison.”
How did this happen?
- Both were detained on July 22, 2018, after Federal Security Service (FSB) agents raided eight homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the city of Berezovsky
- Central District Court of Kemerovo ordered both to be held in pretrial detention. They remained in detention for nearly a year and a half
- On December 25, 2019, the men were transferred to house arrest, where they remained until today’s conviction
Nationwide Persecution (Russia and Crimea)
384 under criminal investigation
46 in prison (10 convicted; 36 pretrial detention; over 190 have served time in pretrial detention)
29 under house arrest
1130 homes raided since 2017 Supreme Court ruling