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UKRAINE: The Russian Orthodox Church annexes Ukrainian dioceses

The Russian Orthodox Church annexes dioceses of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in occupied territories

By Willy Fautré, Human Rights Without Frontiers

HRWF (10.06.2022) – The Dzhankoy, Simferopol and Feodosia dioceses of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) of the Moscow Patriarchate have been annexed by the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC).

This decision was made on June 7 at the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, allegedly “out of the need to maintain an effective canonical and administrative connection with the central church authorities.”

It should be noted that after the occupation of Crimea in 2014, the dioceses of the UOC remained in formal subordination to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU)/ Constantinople Patriarchate which had been banned on the peninsula.

Now, by the decision of the Synod of the ROC in Moscow, the Crimean Metropolitanate has been formed on the territory of the peninsula, headed by Metropolitan Lazarus of Simferopol and Crimea.

Why the annexation of UOC dioceses in Crimea, Donetsk and Gorlovka?

In April, over 400 priests of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church/ Moscow Patriarchate (UOC) signed a petition condemning the role of Patriarch Kirill in the war. A number of clerics stopped mentioning the Moscow Patriarchate in their church services.

 

On this occasion, Fr Andrei Pinchuk, Archpriest of the Dnipropetrovsk Diocese of the UOC (some 240 miles southeast of Kyiv), who launched this initiative, gave an interview which is worth watching.

On 27 May, the Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) brought amendments to its charter, confirming and reinforcing its existing independence from Moscow because of “disagreement with the position of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia about the war in Ukraine.”

However, several dioceses in occupied territories of Ukraine – the Donetsk, Gorlovka and Crimean dioceses – did not support the amendments to the charter. The ROC immediately jumped on this opportunity to unilaterally annex these dioceses without the approval of the UOC. The clerics in occupied Crimea who had hereby prioritized their faithfulness to the Moscow Patriarchate rather than to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church will certainly be kept in place by Patriarch Kirill.

 

In recent months, a number of local authorities in many regions of Ukraine have banned the activities of the UOC and re-registered their communities in the OCU (Orthodox Church of Ukraine/ Constantinople Patriarchate), sometimes on their request, sometimes on the priest’s sole request without the approval of the parishioners, sometimes under pressure of the local parishioners and against the priest’s will.

Due to all these fractures inside the UOC, Moscow Patriarchate perceives the UOC as less and less solid and reliable.

In more and more Ukrainian territories occupied by Russia, we may see more annexation cases of UOC churches by Moscow Patriarchate, and their (Ukrainian) priests be replaced by Russian ones if they signed the protest petition in April.

Further reading about FORB in Ukraine on HRWF website





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RUSSIA : A Crimean Tatar sentenced to 17 years in prison

Russia sentences Crimean Tatar to 17 years for solidarity with political prisoners

By Halya Coynash

KHRPG (20.04.2022) – https://bit.ly/3EJvNOD – A court in Russia has sentenced Emil Ziyadinov to 17 years after a farcical ‘trial’ that made no pretence of trying to prove that the 37-year-old children’s sports trainer and Crimean Solidarity civic activist had committed anything but ‘thought crimes’.  During one of the final hearings, Ziyadinov pointed out the absurdity of a situation where listening to poems, discussing political events in various countries and the reaction of international organizations to those events can get you accused of planning “violent seizure of power” with sentences worse than those passed on murderers.  The methods used, he noted, mean that anybody can find themselves prosecuted and thrown into prison if they prove inconvenient to the regime.  Such ‘inconvenience’ in occupied Crimea lies in ‘dissident’ religious and political views and, perhaps most importantly, civic activism in defence of political prisoners.  Ziyadinov is one of over 80 Crimean Muslims, most of whom are Crimean Tatars, either serving or facing huge sentences on identical and profoundly flawed charges, backed by falsified ‘evidence’. 

The flaws in the ‘case’ against Ziyadinov prompted the renowned Memorial Human Rights Centre to declare him a political prisoner back in July 2021, and are among the reasons why numerous international bodies have demanded that Russia release him and well over 100 other Ukrainian political prisoners.

All such demands, as well as the glaring flaws in the prosecution, were ignored by prosecutor Igor Vladimirovich Nadolinsky who claimed back in March that Ziyadinov’s ‘guilt’ had been proven and asked for a 17-year sentence.  This was obligingly provided on 19 April by the panel of judges Stanislav Vladimirovich Zhidkov (presiding); Valery Sergeevich Opanasenko and Andrei Ivanovich Zarya from the notorious Southern District Military Court in Rostov (Russia).  Ziyadinov was sentenced to 17 years in the harshest of Russian penal colonies, with the first four years in the very worst of such institutions (a prison).  As has become standard in such sentences, a further 18 months of restriction of liberty was added after Ziyadinov’s release.  The sentence will, of course, be appealed, however these are conveyor belt ‘trials’, with the ‘judges’ involved going through the motions of hearing a trial only to provide the sentences clearly expected of them.  Since Russia began illegally applying its repressive legislation in occupied Crimea, there has been one occasion where the same court (but different judges) passed a sentence significantly lower than that demanded (against Ruslan Zeytullaev) and one ‘acquittal’ (of civic journalist and activist Ernes Ametov).  The ‘trials’ of Zeytullaev were simply repeated until the FSB got the sentence it wanted, and the acquittal of Ametov was overturned.  It seems likely that the so-called ‘acquittal’ was always a stunt to imitate ‘justice’ in a case obviously targeting civic journalists and activists.

Human beings are not conveyor belts, however, and Russia has shattered not only Ziyadinov’s life, but that of his wife and four young sons.  Now 37, Ziyadinov had devoted a huge amount of time to bringing up his own children, while working as a children’s sports trainer.  Despite the danger, he could not ignore the mounting repression under Russian occupation and joined the Crimean Solidarity human rights initiative,  attending political trials, taking part in solitary pickets, etc.  He did not stop, even after he faced harassment and administrative prosecution for supposedly ‘failing to obey enforcement officers’ by peacefully standing outside the home of Crimean Solidarity civic journalist Rustem Sheikhaliev during the latter’s arrest.

Russia’s FSB came for Ziyadinov during its ‘operation’ on 7 July 2020, when eleven armed searches were carried out and seven men arrested, including Oleksandr Sizikov, who is blind and walks with difficulty.  All of the men, who included four civic activists, were charged with ‘involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir ‘,a peaceful Muslim organization which is legal in Ukraine, and which is not known to have committed any acts of terrorism or violence anywhere in the world.  The highly secretive Russian Supreme Court’s ruling in 2003, which declared  Hizb ut-Tahrir  and many other organizations ‘terrorist’ was probably passed for political reasons, with Moscow looking for a way of forcibly sending Uzbek refugees back to Uzbekistan where they faced religious persecution. 

Russia has been making arrests in occupied Crimea on the basis of that flawed ruling since January 2015, and has increasingly used these fake ‘terrorism’ charges as a weapon against Crimean Solidarity and human rights activists in general.  In its statement, the Memorial Human Rights Centre indicated that Ziyadinov “is being persecuted for his non-violent exercising of his right to freedom of religion and of association. According to our information, he has been deprived of his liberty without any elements of a crime in order to stop his religious activities and also to crush the civic activism of residents of annexed Crimea.”

Ziyadinov faced the more serious charge of ‘organizing a Hizb ut-Tahrir  group’ (under Article 205.5 § 1 of Russia’s criminal code). It has also become standard in occupied Crimea to charge all these political prisoners under Articles 30 and 278 – with planning an armed uprising.  There has not been one case where ‘searches’ have found any weapons, etc, nor where any evidence has been provided of even the vaguest of plans.

Memorial HRC subjected the ‘evidence’ to analysis and was scathing in its conclusions.  There were supposed ‘expert assessments’ of the transcripts of four meetings between Ziyadinov and an unidentified person.  The alleged ‘experts’ claim that Ziyadinov is behaving like “a teacher”, “a mentor”, etc., while the unidentified person purportedly behaves like “a student”.  The two men read what are asserted to be “texts from the ideological sources of Hizb ut-Tahrir “ and discussed them. “According to the investigators, this constitutes ‘terrorist activities’, Memorial noted and reiterated its long-standing position, that the Supreme Court ruling declaring Hizb ut-Tahrir  ‘terrorist’ was unwarranted and illegal, and provided no proof of any terrorist activities.  

Such ‘trials’ are especially shocking in occupied Crimea, given that Hizb ut-Tahrir  is perfectly legal in Ukraine, and that Russia is in breach of international law (the Fourth Geneva Convention, for example) in applying Russian legislation on occupied territory.

Like most of the Crimean Tatars imprisoned on these charges, Emil Ziyadinov was born in exile (as a result of Stalin’s 1944 Deportation of the entire Crimean Tatar people). A graduate of the Taurida National University, he originally worked as a sports trainer, however had, in 2018, completed professional studies and become a qualified electrician.

Ziyadinov is now, yet again, exile, in Russia, very far from his wife and four small sons (Asadullakh, b. 2011; Umar, b. 2013;  Davud, b. 2014; and Mukhammad, born in 2018.   The children were, exceptionally, allowed to see their father, but only through the Russian ‘aquarium’ (effective cage) that Ziyadinov, who was not accused of any recognizable crime, has been held in at each court hearing.

Please write to Emil Ziyadinov!

The letters tell him and Moscow that he is not forgotten and that Russia’s treatment of him is under close scrutiny. Letters need to be in Russian, and on ‘safe’ subjects.  If that is a problem, use the sample letter below (copying it by hand), perhaps adding a picture or photo. Do add a return address so that he can answer. 

Sample letter

Здравствуйте,

Желаю Вам здоровья, мужества и терпения, надеюсь на скорое освобождение. Простите, что мало пишу – мне трудно писать по-русски, но мы все о Вас помним.

[Hi.  I wish you good health, courage and patience and hope that you will soon be released.  I’m sorry that this letter is short – it’s hard for me to write in Russian., but you are not forgotten. ]  

Address

344022, Россия,, Ростовская обл., г. Ростов-на-Дону, ул. Максима Горького, 219, ФКУ СИЗО-1  

Зиядинову, Эмилю Исмаиловичу, 1984 г.р. 

Or in English

344022 Russian Federation, Rostov on the Don, 219 Maxim Gorky St, SIZO-1

Ziyadinov, Emil Ismailovich, b. 1984

 

Photo credits: Crimean Solidarity





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RUSSIA sentences two Tatar Muslims to 17 and 13 years in Crimea

Russia sentences two Crimean Tatars to 17 and 13 years for talking about their faith

By Halya Coynash

 

KHPG (23.03.2022) – https://bit.ly/3qOQ2F4 – A Russian ‘court’ which has been imprisoning Ukrainian political prisoners since 2014 has sentenced two Crimean Tatars, both of whom were active in the Crimean Solidarity human rights movement, to 30 years’ imprisonment for conversations back in 2016 about their religious beliefs.  Although it was another person, almost certainly an FSB agent, who initiated all the religious subjects on which the charges were based, and one of the men can be heard trying to politely end the conversation, the prosecution claimed that this was a ‘conspiratory’ meeting.  Neither man was accused of any actions or plans that would, in a democratic country, constitute a crime, yet the Russian court sentenced Timur Yalkabov to 17 years and Lenur Seidametov to 13 years.

Several dozen Crimean Tatars had come from occupied Crimea to show their solidarity with the two recognized political prisoners.  Only the men’s wives, and Timur’s brother, were allowed into the courtroom, with traffic police deployed outside the court to harass and intimidate other Crimean Tatars by demanding to see their car documents and recording registration numbers.  Police officers inside the court building also unwarrantedly demanded that no photos or videos from the court be loaded on the Internet.  They ignored the request to explain on what legal grounds they were making such a demand. Initial attempts to prevent journalists from being present were abandoned after the journalists stood their ground.

The sentences passed on 22 March 2022 were only slightly lower than those demanded by the Russian prosecutors Mikhail Arefyev and Konstantin Firsov.

Timur Yalkabov (b. 1980) was sentenced to 17 years’ imprisonment, with the first four years in a prison, the very worst of Russian penal institutions, and the remainder in harsh-regime prison colonies.  This, according to the sentence, is to be followed by 18 months’ restriction of liberty.

Lenur Seidametov (b. 1985) was sentenced to 13 years, with the conditions identical to those against Yalkabov, followed by a year’s restriction of liberty.

Both men are recognized as political prisoners by the renowned Memorial Human Rights Centre, and their release has been demanded by multiple  European and international bodies.  The charges themselves were both unwarranted and in violation of international law, and the alleged ‘evidence’ deeply flawed.  None of this made any difference to presiding judge Roman Saprunov, together with Rizvan Zubairov and Sergei Grishin from the Southern District Military Court in Rostov who essentially provided the sentences demanded.

Seidametov and Yalkabov were arrested, together with four other Crimean Tatars, after armed searches at around 4 a.m. on 17 February 2021 during which the FSB did not pretend that they were looking for anything but ‘prohibited’ religious literature.  Seidametov’s wife has said that the FSB planted several such books, with this an increasingly common part of such ‘searches’ carried out with the men illegally prevented from having lawyers or independent witnesses present.

All of the men, including Seidametov and Yalkabov, were charged with ‘involvement’ in Hizb ut-Tahrir, a peaceful transnational Muslim organization that is legal in Ukraine.  A flawed and secretive ruling by the Russian Supreme Court in 2003, declaring Hizb ut-Tahrir ‘terrorist’ has been used since 2014 to sentence people to up to 24 years for often unproven ‘involvement’ in a peaceful organization.  Russia is particularly using it in occupied Crimea as a weapon against Crimean Tatar civic activists and journalists.   Timur Yalkabov was charged with the more serious charge of ‘organizing a so-called Hizb ut-Tahrir cell’ (Article 205.5 § 1 of Russia’s criminal code).  Lenur Seidametov was accused of ‘involvement in such a purported cell’ (Article 205.5 § 2).  Both men were also accused of ‘planning to violently overthrow the state’ (Article 278), with this also based solely on the 2003 Supreme Court ruling, not on any actual evidence.

As mentioned, the ‘evidence’ in this case was obtained illegally, via overt provocation from the FSB.  There are certainly occasions where the security services in any country infiltrate organizations to prevert crimes or catch alleged criminals.  They bear no resemblance to this case where the unidentified individual deliberately pushed a conversation on religious subjects in a direction that suited the prosecutor.  The men themselves say that they met the individual at a mosque in 2016 after which he invited them for a cup of tea. The prosecution has since claimed that the latter conversation was ‘a conspiratorial meeting’ organized by Seidametov.  In fact, the defence say, it is clear from the video that Seidametov was uncomfortable at this conversation and made every effort to leave the place where they were meeting.  All of this is particularly shocking as the questions that this individual was asking (in the knowledge that the conversation was being videoed) are similar to those later put to the FSB-loyal ‘linguist experts’ for their assessment.

Lawyer Emil Kurbedinov has identified this unidentified individual, who appears as a ‘secret witness for the prosecution’, as an FSB agent called Adnan Masri, who has been deployed in a large number of such ‘trials’.  This individual gave testimony on 15 November, under the pseudonym ‘Kurbanov’. He gave muddled and contradictory answers to questions, while claiming to have suddenly ‘remembered’ some testimony that he had not presented earlier.  The defence believe it was abundantly clear that the man was making things up, however this was ignored by the court, as was the lack of any legitimate grounds for allowing anonymous witnesses.

While Russia is using these prosecutions as a weapon against civic activists and journalists, the FSB themselves are known to gain promotion or at least bonuses for such cases.  They can improve their statistics on ‘fighting terrorism’, while taking minimum effort since the charges are essentially copy-pasted from one case to another.  The Russian prosecutors and judges then oblige by asking no inconvenient questions and demanding / imposing monstrous sentences for 5-year-old conversations about religion and solidarity with victims of repression.

PLEASE WRITE TO LENUR SEIDAMETOV AND TIMUR YALKABOV!

The men are likely to be held in the same prison until the appeal hearing, and letters tell them they are not forgotten, and show Moscow that the ‘trial’ now underway is being followed. Letters need to be in Russian, and on ‘safe’ subjects.  If that is a problem, use the sample letter below (copying it by hand), perhaps adding a picture or photo. Do add a return address so that the men can answer.

Sample letter

Привет,

Желаю Вам здоровья, мужества и терпения, надеюсь на скорое освобождение. Простите, что мало пишу – мне трудно писать по-русски, но мы все о Вас помним.

[Hi.  I wish you good health, courage and patience and hope that you will soon be released.  I’m sorry that this letter is short – it’s hard for me to write in Russian., but you are not forgotten. ]

Lenur Seidametov

344022, Россия, Ростов-на-Дону, ул. Максима Горького, 219 СИЗО-1.

Сейдаметову, Ленуру Люмановичу.  г.р. 1985

[In English:  344022 Russian Federation, Rostov on the Don, 219 Maxim Gorky St, SIZO-1

Seidametov, Lenur Liumanovich, b. 1985

Timur Yalkabov

344022, Россия, Ростов-на-Дону, ул. Максима Горького, 219 СИЗО-1.

Ялкабову, Тимуру Муминовичу, г.р. 1980

[In English:  344022 Russian Federation, Rostov on the Don, 219 Maxim Gorky St, SIZO-1

Yalkabov, Timur Muminovich, b. 1980

 

Photo : From left Timur Yalkabov in T-shirt saying Faith is not terrorism, Lenur Seidametov in T-shirt saying Deportation continues Photo 22.03.2022 Photo Crimean Solidarity

Further reading about FORB in Russia on HRWF website





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УКРАИНА: Религиозная свобода в Крыму и Донбассе: Перспективы

РОССИЯ – УКРАИНА

ПЕРСПЕКТИВЫ СВОБОДЫ ВЕРОИСПОВЕДАНИЯ В РЕГИОНАХ УКРАИНЫ, НАХОДЯЩИХСЯ ПОД РОССИЙСКОЙ ОККУПАЦИEЙ

Др. Аарон Роудс для организации Права Человека Без Границ.
HRWF (24.01.2022) – https://hrwf.eu – В 2014 г. Российская Федерация взяла украинский регион, Донбасс под свой контроль через процесс военного проникновения вместе с пророссийскими сепаратистами, создавая две лояльные России структуры: Донецкую Народную Республику (ДНР) и Луганскую Народную Республику (ЛНР). Россия также прямо присоединила к себе Республику Крым как субъект федерации.
Граждане Украины теперь могут со стороны Российской Федерации ожидать дальнейшие военные или кибернетические атаки, или, может быть, государственный переворот, намеривая установить Российский контроль. Некоторые эксперты во всем этом видят попытку воссоздать новую Российскую Империю из тех государств, которые достигли независимости после распада Советского Союза.
Много наблюдателей в мировом сообществе озабочены возможными серьезными последствиями таких сценарий, но также важно изучать ограничения прав человека в оккупированных регионах, где законы и административная практика были изменены российскими властями и каким образом такие подходы могли бы быть распростронены.
Российский контроль над оккупированными регионами Украины особенно касается основных прав на свободу вероисповедания и веру. Не может удивлять то, что уважение к свободе религии в Донбассе и Крыму по важным пунктам напоминает ситуацию в самой Российской Федерации. За последние десятилетия Российское Государство приняло постепенно более навязчивые и ограничительные законы в этой сфере, которые особенно касаются религиозных меньшинств.
В 2021-ом году Коммиссия Соединенных Штатов по Свободе в Мире (USCRIF) характеризовала Российскую Федерацию «страной, вызывающей особую озабоченность» на ряду с немногими другими странами, так как о Северной Кореи. Коммиссия писала, что власти продолжают преследовать «нетрадиционные религиозные меньшинства, которые приговариваются к штрафам, подвергаются арестам и против которых возбуждаются уголовные дела».
Российское государство считает «экстремизм» преступлением, но это понятие не имеет четкого юридического определения. Это дает властям возможность возбуждать уголовные дела по целому ряду ненасильственных религиозных действий.
USCRIF заметил, что власти полностью запретили как «экстремистов» Свидетелей Иеговы и этим сделали незаконным для 170.000 граждан исповедовать свою религию. USCRIF тоже заметил, что против этой группы граждан возбуждено 188 уголовных дел. В то же время «случаи пыток» все еще не расследуются и виновные не наказываются.
Исламская организация Хизб ут-Тахрир в России запрещена с 2003-его года. Многие ее члены были российскими судами приговорены к тюремному заключению за, так называемые, «террористические акты». Эти приговоры осудила организация Human Rights Watch.
По тому же образцу, ограничения свободы вероисповедания происходят в оккупированных регионах Украины.
Российские власти возбудили уголовные дела против многочисленных крымских татар, принадлежащих к коренному мусульманскому тюркскому населению по обвинению якобы «в связях с Хизб ут-Тахриром». Их обвинили в экстремизме и терроризме. Десятки людей находятся в тюрьмах. Это надежные эксперты в области гражданского общества считают злоупотреблением российского закона против терроризма.
Американская общественная организация Freedom House писала о том, как граждан поощряют доносить в Федеральную Службу Безопасности (ФСБ) на любого человека, который выражает несогласие с такой политикой.
Запрет Российской Федерацией Свидетелей Иеговы также распространяется на Крым. Пять членов той общины были приговорены к тюремному заключению. Свидетели Иеговы запрещены как в поддержанной Россией «Луганской Народной Республике», так и в «Донецкой Народной Республике».
Офис Верховного комиссара ООН по Правам Человека констатировал, что многочисленным общинам, которые были признаны украинским законодательством, новые, незаконные органы ЛНР, ДНР и Крыма в перерегистрации отказали под предлогом, что не выполняли критерии регистрации, действующие в Российской Федерации: Баптистам, Пятидесятникам и Адвентистам Седьмого Дня в перерегистрации отказали.
Ведется политика жителей регионов Украины, оккупированных и контролируемых Россией принудить войти в Московский Патриархат Восточной Православной Церкви чтобы дестабилизировать Православную Церковь Украины, которую российские власти рассматривают как препятствие для духовного и политического соединения двух стран.
Брюссельская организация IPHR, вместе с Центром Гражданских Свобод, в 2015. г. написали, что в Донбассе сепаратисты «православную религию используют как идеологическую основу «строительства государства». Все то, что не русско-православное рассматривается как иностранное, чужое». Организации показали на то, что с момента начала конфликта, «в регионе десятки мест вероисповедания были захвачены» и  обратили внимание на «случая захвата людей, пытки и другие виды жестокого обращения и даже убийства священников и запреты религиозной практики, которая выходит за рамки Православия Московского Патриархата».
Россия стоит за напряженными отношениями между двумя ветвями Восточной Православной Церкви. Основы такой политики озвучил российский президент Владимир Путин в статье, опубликованной в июле 2021ого г., под заголовком «Об историческом единстве украинцев и русских». В этой статье Путин написал, что Московский Патриархат Восточной Православной Церкви «столетиями является символом» «родства» русских и украинцев. По его мнению, Украинская Православная Церковь – политическая структура, выдуманная светскими властями в те времена, когда Украина принадлежала к Великому Княжеству Литовскому.
Свобода вероисповедания находится в центре российской угрозы украинскому суверенитету и национальной идентичности. Соответственно, требования соблюдать свободу вероисповедания должны находиться в центре усилий всех государственных структур и групп гражданского общества, цель которых – возврат в Украину всех оккупированных Россией регионов.
При нынешнем нестабильном статус-кво, с применением насилия против граждан, европейские и международные власти должны привлечь к ответственности Российскую Федерацию за соблюдение ей – или несоблюдение – свободы вероисповедания и всех юридических прав человека в регионах, незаконно оккупированных Россией. Если этого не сделать, это бы считалось как признание и легитимизацию российской оккупации. Отсутствие требований соблюдать основные свободы в регионах Украины, находящихся под российской оккупацией, значило бы признание российского суверенитета над этими регионами. Все мы должны настаивать на соблюдении признанных мировым обществом границ.
Др. Аарон Роудс – старший сотрудник Общества Здравого Смысла и председатель Форума Свободы Вероисповедания в Европе. Он является автором книги «Обесценивание Прав Человека» (“The Debasement ofHuman Rights” – Encounter Books, 2018)




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RUSSIA/UKRAINE/CRIMEA: More than ten criminal cases of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russian-occupied Crimea

More than ten criminal cases of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russian-occupied Crimea

Security forces arrest leader of yalta jehovists

By Alexander Dremligin

 

2.stetson.edu (17.08.2021) – https://bit.ly/38eBxka – The leader of the Yalta cell of the religious organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are banned in Russia, was arrested in Belgorod oblast while trying to cross the state border, Kommersant was told at the S.K.R. [Investigative Committee of Russia] for Crimea and Sevastopol. The name of the detainee has not been disclosed. The Kiev district court of Simferopol placed him in custody.

 

The man, who is on the federal wanted list, was arrested at the Nekhoteevka checkpoint. “In March of this year, he left the territory of the peninsula, fleeing from law enforcement agencies, and he was placed on the federal wanted list. The detainee is charged with arranging the activity of an extremist community (part 1, article 282.2 of CC RF),” the S.K.R. specified.

 

According to security officials, the Yalta cell of Jehovists has operated underground since July 2017 until March of this year, conducting propaganda meetings and distributing funds for the needs of the congregation. The majority of members of this organization had been arrested previously and held criminally accountable. In all, law enforcement noted, there are five subjects in this criminal case. Another member of the cell is on the wanted list.

 

We recall, in March it was reported on the peninsula that another of the founders of the Yalta cell of the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses, which is forbidden in Russia, Taras Kuzko, was arrested on suspicion of financing extremist activity.

 

Since 2017, more than ten criminal cases against the banned organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses have been opened in the region. Criminal prosecution of its adherents have been conducted in Yalta, Dzhankoy, Sevastopol, Kerch, and other cities of the peninsula. (tr. by PDS, posted 17 August 2021)

 

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Further reading about FORB in Russia on HRWF website


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