RUSSIA: Special bimonthly on freedom of religion or belief (16-28.02.2021)
26.02.21 – Defrocked priest Sergy’s pretrial detention extended until end of spring
The Basmanny District Court of Moscow has agreed on a three-month extension of the pretrial arrest of ex-priest Sergy Romanov, charged with several crimes, including inducement to suicide.
“The court has granted the investigator’s petition. Nikolay Romanov’s measure of restraint in the form of remand has been extended until May 28, 2021,” court spokesperson Irina Sofinskaya told Interfax
26.02.21 – More than 50 Jehovah’s Witnesses are imprisoned – an anti-record of persecution for practicing one’s faith
Link to full text in Russian: https://jw-russia.org/news/2021/02/17.html
By February 25, 2021, the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses simultaneously placed in Russian colonies and pre-trial detention centers reached 51. In just 3.5 years after the decision of the Supreme Court to liquidate 396 legal entities of this religion, 230 people in the country went through places of imprisonment.
26.02.21 – The Kostroma Court of Appeals commuted Sergey and Valeriya Rayman’s strict sentence
Link to full text in Russian: https://jw-russia.org/news/2021/02/18.html
On February 26, 2021, the Kostroma Regional Court, having considered the appeal of the Rayman spouses, canceled the longest suspended sentence for faith – 8 and 7 years. Earlier, a lower court found Sergey and Valeriya guilty of organizing and participating in extremist activities.
25.02.21 – CRIMEA: Muslim meetings for worship main target of “anti-missionary” prosecutions
Of the 13 individuals fined under Russia’s “anti-missionary” laws in 2020 in Russian-occupied Crimea, 10 were imams leading meetings for worship in mosques outside the framework of the Russian-backed Crimean Muslim Board. “What will the state’s next step be?”
25.02.21 – The case of six Jehovah’s Witnesses from Orenburg is back in court
Link to full text in Russian:
A court in Orenburg will begin reviewing in March the case of six Jehovah’s Witnesses that had previously been returned to the prosecutor.
In February 2021 the case of six Jehovah’s Witnesses was resubmitted to the Industrial District Court of Orenburg. The first court session was scheduled for March 1.
24.02.21 – A 70-year-old Khakasia-based woman was sentenced to two years in a penal colony for practicing her faith. Her son was sentenced to six years in a penal colony. They are Jehovah’s Witnesses
Link to full text in Russian: https://jw-russia.org/news/2021/02/16.html
On February 24, 2021, Abakan city court passed an unprecedentedly cruel sentence: for the first time a woman, who is also elderly, was sentenced to imprisonment. For the first time, a person is imprisoned under the milder part of article 282.2 (participation in a banned organization) of the RF Criminal Code. This is the case of Valentina Baranovskaya.
24.02.21 – Homes of two Jehovah’s Witnesses in Razdolnoye, a Crimean village, were searched. A religious book was planted in the home of a 72-year-old believer
Link to full text in Russian: https://jw-russia.org/news/2021/02/15.html
On February 10, 2021, in the village of Razdolnoye (Razdolnensky District, Crimea), security forces examined the homes of two local Jehovah’s Witnesses: Andrey Rogutskiy and Lyudmila Shevchenko. Bibles, notebooks, electronic devices were confiscated from believers.
24.02.21 – The Russian Foreign Ministry claims that Jehovah’s Witnesses have the right to practice their religion in groups. Why then are there dozens of believers that are imprisoned?
Link to full text in Russian: https://jw-russia.org/news/2021/02/14.html
“Members of a liquidated organization may worship independently, including as part of religious groups that do not require registration…” the Russian Foreign Ministry response, dated 20 February 2021, reads.
19.02.21 – Vladimir region siloviki join in religious persecution. A series of searches took place in Kovrov
Link to full text in Russian: https://jw-russia.org/news/2021/02/13.html
On February 17, 2021, believers from the Kovrov city reported searches that had taken place at least at 6 addresses. 14 people were detained and taken away for interrogation, including elderly ones. Details are being clarified.
17.02.21 – RUSSIA: Early release applications denied
Six Jehovah’s Witnesses jailed on “extremism”-related charges applied for early release after serving half their jail terms, but have been unsuccessful. Prison administrations opposed the applications with what Jehovah’s Witnesses describe as “fabricated evidence” of violations of prison rules.
16.02.21 – New searches of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Kemerovo region. A 53-year-old believer was detained; the court will be deciding which restrictions to place on him
Link to full text in Russian: https://jw-russia.org/news/2021/02/9.html
On Sunday, February 14, 2021, at least six Jehovah’s Witnesses were searched in the city of Belovo (Kemerovo region). Sergey Ananin, 53, was detained and taken to a temporary detention center.