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RUSSIA: Six years in prison for a Jehovah’s Witness from Kazan

RUSSIA: Six years in prison for a Jehovah’s Witness from Kazan

JW-Russia (08.12.2023) – On 7 December 2023, the criminal case against Jehovah’s Witness Aleksey Gerasimov was completed in the Kirovsky District Court of Kazan. Judge Anna Kryuchenkova sentenced the believer to 6 years of imprisonment for reading the Bible with friends. He was taken into custody from the courtroom.


In March 2022, searches were conducted in the homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Kazan. Several of them, including Gerasimov, were interrogated. According to investigators, Aleksey continued to meet with fellow believers to discuss the Holy Scriptures, which the authorities considered to be undermining the foundations of the constitutional order of Russia.


In September 2022, law enforcement officers accused Gerasimov of organizing the activities of an extremist organization (Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). The decision to initiate a criminal case stated that unidentified persons “involved individual residents of Kazan” in religious activities, “gave lectures and showed videos promoting the ideas of the religious organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses.” The investigation was conducted by the investigator of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Republic of Tatarstan A. A. Giniyatullin, and in January 2023 the case was transferred to the court, where it was considered for almost another year.


In June 2017, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation liquidated all  legal entities of Jehovah’s Witnesses but did not factually prohibit the practice of this faith in Russia.

Photo : The bailiffs take away handcuffed Alexey Gerasimov. December 2023(source jw.org)

Further reading about FORB in Russia on HRWF website

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RUSSIA: Religious persecution and issues – Bimonthly Digest Nov 01-15

Religious persecution and issues – Bimonthly Digest November 01-15


14.11.2023 – The case of Jehovah’s Witnesses from Karpinsk once again returns to the Sverdlovsk Regional Court

Sova – After the Supreme Court did not approve the acquittal of three Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Sverdlovsk Regional Court simply returned the case to the prosecutor. The cassation court again sent the case to the regional court.

On November 8, 2023, the Seventh Cassation Court of General Jurisdiction in Chelyabinsk overturned the ruling of the Sverdlovsk Regional Court to return to the prosecutor the criminal case of Jehovah’s Witnesses Alexander Pryanikov, Venus and Daria Dulova, accused under Part 2 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code (participation in the activities of an extremist organization), and sent the case for a new appeal hearing to the same court with a different composition.

Continue reading…


13.11.2023 – In Moscow, due to the “threat of public scandal,” the presentation of a book by a priest who did not support the SVO was canceled

Sova – On November 13, 2023, the cultural center “Pokrovskiye Vorota” announced the cancellation of the presentation of the book by Archpriest Andrei Kordochkin, “The Russian Orthodox Church in Spain from the mid-18th to the beginning of the 21st century,” scheduled for November 14. The reason was “threats of public scandal” from Orthodox activists.


Shortly before the expected presentation, calls appeared on the Telegram channels of some Orthodox activists to prevent the event. In particular, the Orthodox publicist Alexander Voznesensky considers it unacceptable that “in the capital of Russia some bastard in a cassock, broadcasting that “Russia is a country of fascists”, that “the president is a man with the psychology of a terrorist”, that the Special Military Operation is evil, makes public presentations his books and also made money from those very Russians and from that very Russia about which he so simply wipes his feet to please his cronies like Khodorkovsky .

Continue reading…


13.11.2023 – Attempted arson of a temple in New Moscow

Sova Center – On November 9, unknown persons tried to set fire to the temple in honor of the Georgian Icon of the Mother of God in the village of Marushkino in New Moscow.

A temple worker, walking around the area, found traces of burning on a wooden building and two bottles with a flammable mixture nearby. Apparently, someone scared off the arsonists, since there were people in the temple during the day.

The police are investigating what happened.


09.11.2023 – Residents of South Butovo oppose the construction of a mosque

JW – On November 7, 2023, it became known that residents of the Moscow district of Yuzhnoye Butovo are opposed to the construction of a mosque on Akhmat Kadyrov Street. They are asking the mayor’s office to hold a vote on this issue.


Residents living near the site of the proposed construction fear that the appearance of the mosque will lead to a transport collapse. They also fear the inconvenience associated with the use of sound amplification equipment during services.

Continue reading…


07.11.2023 – Valeriy Vyaznikov, a retired miner from Primorye Territory, received a suspended sentence for believing in Jehovah God

JW- On November 7, 2023, Nina Kalashnik, judge of the Pozharskiy District Court of the Primorye Territory, found Valeriy Vyaznikov guilty of participating in extremist activities — this is how the confession of faith in Jehovah was interpreted. A peaceful 59-year-old believer from the village of Chegdomyn was sentenced to 2 years and 6 months of suspended imprisonment.


“My conscience is clear before God, people and the court. It is for the fact that I try to convey life-saving truths from God’s Word that I am now being judged,” the believer said in his final statement. Despite the lack of any victims and facts of extremist actions in the case, the prosecutor asked to impose a suspended sentence of 3 years with restriction of freedom for 1 year. The verdict can be appealed.


Continue reading…


07.11.2023 – Russia Hands Jehovah’s Witness Follower 7-Year Jail Term for ‘Extremism’

Moscow Times – A court in Russia’s Chelyabinsk region has sentenced a Jehovah’s Witness follower to seven years in prison on charges of “extremism,” the religious organization’s Russian branch said Tuesday.

Yevgeny Bushev had been under house arrest since September 2022 on allegations of “organizing actions to continue the illegal activities of a banned religious organization,” the religious group said on its website.

Russia’s Supreme Court in 2017 declared the Jehovah’s Witness movement to be “extremist,” banning its estimated 400 branches across the country.

Chelyabinsk’s Kalininsky District Court found Bushev guilty and handed him a seven-year prison sentence.


Continue reading…


07.11.2023 – Searches of Falun Gong followers were conducted in several regions

Sova – On November 1, 2023, police officers and the Center for Combating Extremism in several regions conducted searches in the homes of Falun Gong practitioners.


In particular, searches took place in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Irkutsk and the Irkutsk region.

According to Falun Gong, the searches in Irkutsk were preceded by an authorized picket in support of Falun Gong followers persecuted in China, during which two men present at the action invited another participant, N., to take the posters they had brought and take a photo with them in their hands.


Continue reading…



03.11.2023 – Appeal in Tatarstan upholds the verdict of three Jehovah’s Witnesses


JW- On November 1, 2023, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Tatarstan upheld the sentence of the first instance—2 years suspended for Tatyana Obizhestvit, 2.5 years suspended for Leysan Bochkareva and 3 years and 1 month in prison for Andrey Bochkarev, who has already served this term in full while in jail.

The prosecutor considered the decision of the court of first instance too lenient and in March 2023 filed an appeal in which he asked the court to “strengthen” the punishment for the believers, as well as to exclude mitigating circumstances from the verdict.


Continue reading…



03.11.2023 – The appeal in Yaroslavl reduced the suspended sentence of Petr Filiznov and Andrey Vyushin by 4 years


JW- On October 30, 2023, the judicial board of the Yaroslavl Regional Court commuted the sentences of Petr Filiznov and Andrey Vyushin, sentencing them to 2.5 years instead of 6.5 years suspended. For the Kuznetsovs, the suspended sentence of 2.5 years remained the same.


The basis for mitigating the sentences for Filiznov and Vyushin was that the court reclassified the charge from Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation to Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.


Continue reading…


03.11.2023 – A criminal case has been opened against the perpetrator of a pogrom in a monastery in the Tula region

Sova – On November 3, 2023, it became known that a criminal case had been initiated under Part 2 of Art. 148 of the Criminal Code (intentional public desecration of religious or liturgical literature, objects of religious veneration, or their damage or destruction) and Part 2 of Art. 213 of the Criminal Code (hooliganism committed with the use of weapons or objects used as weapons) against a 40-year-old resident of Novomoskovsk, who staged a pogrom in the Assumption Monastery.

House arrest was chosen as a preventive measure.


Let us remember that at the end of October he smashed icon cases and overturned a lectern in the monastery church and insulted believers.


Continue reading…



02.11.2023 – Armed raid on Krasnodar Region church

Forum 18 – In early October, 10 unidentified armed men raided a non-Moscow Patriarchate Russian Orthodox Church in the southern Krasnodar Region whose clergy have repeatedly spoken out against Russia’s war in Ukraine. A priest was physically tortured, detained, and charged with “disobeying a police officer” and “discrediting the Russian Armed Forces”. “At least five searches took place simultaneously”, Fr Iona told Forum 18. The Krasnodar Region branches of the Investigative Committee, Federal Security Service (FSB), Interior Ministry, and National Guard failed to respond to Forum 18’s questions about the raid.

Continue reading…


01.11.2023 – Another Muslim house of worship sealed in Moscow


Sova – On October 31, 2023, another Muslim prayer house was sealed in Moscow, this time in the Yuzhnoye Butovo microdistrict.

We are talking about the prayer house of the Local Muslim Religious Organization “Mercy”, located in the SNT “Gavrikovo-1”.


According to the chairman of this organization, Imam Marat Alimov, “employees of the Investigative Committee conducted an inspection in the prayer hall of the spiritual center, seizing copies of the Koran and other religious literature for examination. After this, the building was sealed . ” Let us remind you that a Muslim prayer house in the Moscow Mitino district

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SPAIN: Anti-Jehovah’s-Witnesses group loses court case but says it won

SPAIN: Anti-Jehovah’s-Witnesses group loses court case—but claims it won

The secretary of the Spanish Association of the Victims of the Jehovah’s Witnesses was found guilty of violating the religious organization’s right to honor and ordered to pay Euro 5,000 in damages.

by Massimo Introvigne

Bitter Winter (03.11.2023) – There is a new game among anti-cultists. They keep losing court cases, particularly against the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but they claim they won.

This strange game started when FECRIS, the French-based umbrella organization of European anti-cult movements, lost a landmark case in 2020 at the District Court of Hamburg, in Germany, where it was found guilty of 18 counts of untrue factual allegations against the Jehovah’s Witnesses. On May 24, 2021, Bitter Winter published a commentary of the decision. On May 30, 2021, i.e., six days after Bitter Winter’s article, FECRIS published a press release about the case.

In the press release, FECRIS falsely claimed that it had won a case that it had in fact lost. Since the Jehovah’s Witnesses had claimed that 32 FECRIS statements were defamatory, and the court found 17 of them defamatory, one partially defamatory, and 14 non-defamatory, FECRIS claimed that it had successfully defended its case in Hamburg. Obviously, it had not, as evidenced by the fact that FECRIS was sentenced to pay money to the Jehovah’s Witnesses rather than vice versa. Later, documents obtained by “Bitter Winter” proved that in an internal meeting FECRIS had admitted it had lost the case.

Lawyers know that defamation cases are difficult. Not all false statements constitute defamation. Some statements may be inaccurate, yet the courts may regard them as a mere statement of opinion (referred to in the case law as “value judgments”) rather than statements of fact, thus falling outside the scope of statutes protecting the right to honor. Organizations and tabloids that resort to systematic defamation know that they will be often sued about several statements, and that they will be sentenced for some and found not guilty for others. Their strategy is normally to downplay the negative decisions and claim victory when only some of the statements for which they were sued, but not all, are found defamatory—which is a common occurrence even in the most successful defamation cases. They would also falsely claim that, when some of their statements have been found as non-defamatory, the courts have “certified” that they are “true”—while in fact a statement may be both inaccurate and outside the scope of defamation or breach of the right to honor.

The strategy has now been repeated in Spain by the Spanish Association of the Victims of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (AEVTJ), whose secretary, Enrique Carmona, was found guilty of having violated the Jehovah’s Witnesses right to honor by a decision rendered on October 25, 2023, by the Court of First Instance Number 1 of Torrejón de Ardoz. The decision is subject to appeal.

The court found that certain “expressions of the video entitled ‘Presentation of the Spanish Association of the Victims of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ uploaded to its YouTube channel, constitute an unlawful interference with the fundamental right to honor of the plaintiff [i.e., the Spanish Jehovah’s Witnesses]. The defendant is ordered to pay 5,000 euros for the damages suffered by the plaintiff as a result of the aforementioned intromission” (decision, p. 13).

The decision found that in the video “the defendant defines the plaintiff religious association as a ‘cult’ [‘secta’ in Spanish, but the word is normally translated by scholars with the English ‘cult,’ not with ‘sect,’ as ‘sect’ in English does not have a negative meaning], as ‘the worst of the cults,’ and then as a ‘dangerous cult.’” This is, the court says, “inaccurate, since the Christian Jehovah’s Witnesses are a religious denomination registered in the General Section (Minority Religions), registration number 000068, of the Registry of Religious Entities that is kept at the Ministry of Justice, so we are dealing with a confession legitimately recognized in our country, like many others. Therefore, to classify the plaintiff entity as a cult is erroneous since, in the context of the analyzed video, it implies attributing to it pernicious or harmful traits as opposed to the rest of the religious confessions legally established in Spain” (p. 11).

Worse, the decision notes, the representative of the Spanish Association of the Victims of the Jehovah’s Witnesses “makes a parallelism between the Jehovah’s Witnesses, cults, and ‘diseases’, and catalogs the plaintiff organization as a ‘dangerous cult’, which, beyond the subjective opinions that some ex-members may hold, has no objective basis, and undoubtedly goes against the public consideration that every religious confession legally recognized by the state is entitled to, as is the case here. And there is more: the defendant, by implicitly alluding to the fact that the Jehovah’s Witnesses (or membership in their confession) are a disease, even makes a comparison in his lecture with ‘the cases of jihadism and terrorism.’ Although he recognizes that the Jehovah’s Witnesses ‘are not like that,’ he does insist that they are a disease ‘like diabetes, which people live with a certain normality but when they care to remember it they are broken inside’” (p. 11).

So, the court said, not only did Carmona call the Jehovah’s Witnesses a “cult,” but also a “disease,” an “expression that can hardly have a positive meaning.” It is a disease you may not always realize you suffer of, but “when you do, you are broken inside.” Obviously, “such a statement cannot be covered by freedom of expression. These are words clearly disproportionate and manifestly injurious against this or any other legally recognized religious confession, attacking its honor and public consideration” (p. 11).

Indeed, this is just the latest international decision to repeat that Jehovah’s Witnesses are not a “cult” in the usual derogatory meaning of the term. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled on several occasions that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are a “well-known Christian denomination … [which has] established an active presence in many countries throughout the world, including all European States which are now members of the Council of Europe” (see e.g. ECtHR Jehovah’s Witnesses of Moscow v. Russia, no. 302/02, 10 June 2010 § 155; Kokkinakis v. Greece, no. 14307/88, 25 May 1993, Series A no. 260-A; Manousakis and Others v. Greece, no. 18748/91, 26 September 1996). It is, however, unlikely that Spanish anti-cultists, including the attorney of the defendant and the Spanish Association of the Victims of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Carlos Bardavío, who—strange as it may seem—is sometimes presented as “the greatest expert on cults in the world,” will finally admit that they are wrong.

In fact, unbelievably the Spanish Association of the Victims of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and their lawyer, Carlos Bardavío, have claimed on social media that they have won the case (see image 3). In cases of defamation, there is a clear test to understand who won and who lost. The party that wins receives an indemnification. The party that loses pays for it. In this case, Carmona was sentenced to pay 5,000 euros to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which should have clarified the issue once and for all.

As mentioned earlier, in most similar cases the plaintiffs submit a list of statements they regard as violating their right to honor and reputation. When the plaintiffs succeed in their cases, the courts list some statements as injurious, but normally not all. Again, who had “won” the case can be easily seen by looking at who has to pay damages.

A common fallacy is to believe that when a court defines a statement as not injurious, it somewhat certifies it as true. This is not the case. For instance if somebody would argue that I am not Italian but American the statement, although perhaps formulated for malicious purposes, would probably be defined by a court of law as one not offending my honor. Yet, the statement would remain false.

Unfortunately, even some Spanish media seem to believe that since the court has not regarded certain statements by the Spanish Association of the Victims of the Jehovah’s Witnesses as formulated in a way that violates the rights to honor of the religious organization, the judge has stated that they are true. This is an impression created on the social media by the same anti-Jehovah’s Witnesses association, but it is false. They claim, for example, that “99% of the statements” in the video have been “endorsed” by the court. It is not so.

For instance, the Association implies that since it has not been sanctioned for the sentences where it suggested that the Jehovah’s Witnesses hide perpetrators of child sexual abuse, its corresponding statements were certified as true by the court. But this is not what the judgment says. In reality, the Court states that “although perhaps Mr. Carmona’s words in his speech are somewhat excessive, he does not impute to the plaintiff entity the execution of a manipulative scheme aimed at actively preventing the sexual abuse of minors from being brought to the attention of the authorities.” In other words, had Mr. Carmona made such an accusation, then it would have been judged to be defamatory. Importantly, the judge clarifies that the evidence showed that at no time are the Jehovah’s Witnesses prevented from going to the police or judicial authorities to report crimes such as sexual abuse. How internal ecclesiastical courts among the Jehovah’s Witnesses handle cases of sexual abuse for the purpose of disfellowshipping the perpetrators and whether the Witnesses report the incidents to the secular authorities are two different questions that should not be confused, the court said.

The decision also explains that “there are two spheres of action or intervention of the religious entity: the internal one, which is part of the freedom of self-regulation that all religions have to deal with such issues (including how to deal with or sanction an alleged sexual abuse among members), and the external one, where… at no time are the Jehovah’s Witnesses prevented (nor is it clarified by the opposing how they could be prevented) from going to the police or judicial authorities to report the abuses. These are different and parallel spheres that can perfectly coexist. It is irrelevant for our case whether or not there is a kind of ‘ecclesiastical’ court that judges these matters internally, because this does not prevent that one can and should, if necessary, go to the police or judicial authorities” (p. 9). It is not true, the court added, that Jehovah’s Witnesses are “forced to lie to the judicial authorities,” as demonstrated by the fact that “there are no convictions for crimes of obstruction of justice” against them (p. 10).

The judge made a similar conclusion concerning so-called “shunning” or ostracism, i.e., the teaching by the Jehovah’s Witnesses that members should avoid social interaction with ex-members who have been disfellowshipped for having committed serious offenses and having not shown repentance, or who have publicly and formally left their organization. (Cohabiting relatives are not shunned, nor are those who simply become inactive and no longer participate in the organization’s activities, without publicly disassociating from it).

The judge did not find that Carmona’s statement against the practice had risen to the level of violating the right to honor of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Again, this did not mean that the court agreed with Carmona who alleged that the practice is illegal. On the contrary, the court repeated the commonsense conclusion that “if a person decides to stop talking or dealing with another person, this is part of the freedom that all subjects have to relate to whomever they wish” (p. 10). More specifically, the judge ruled that “if someone chooses to ignore or refuse contact with another person, it is a personal choice, and if the religious confession morally imposes that fact (which even the plaintiff’s witnesses have confirmed to a certain extent), it would be part of the religious norms that the members accept, freely, when they decide to join or remain in the organization. Connecting a ‘mental damage’ to this state of social isolation may be appropriate if it refers to a logical personal suffering when you see that those who used to speak to you do not do it any longer. But this would not justify attributing the greater responsibility to the religious entity nor to its members, who do nothing more than following their dogmas and principles, which is part of their religious freedom” (p. 10).

Summing up, the decision found the representative of the Spanish Association of the Victims of the Jehovah’s Witnesses guilty of having violated the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ right to honor by calling them a “cult,” which the court said they are not, and sentenced him to pay Euro 5,000 as damages. Although it did not conclude that Carmona’s statements about sexual abuse and “shunning” clearly amounted to a right to honor violation, the court very clearly concluded that the Jehovah’s Witnesses do not protect abusers from justice, do not prevent their members to report sexual abuse to secular authorities, and have a right to teach and practice “shunning,” which is part of their freedom of religion.

If this is a “victory” for the anti-Jehovah’s-Witnesses camp, perhaps Napoleon won in Waterloo, too. I am sure the Jehovah’s Witnesses would wish the anti-cultists many similar happy “victories” in the future.

Photo:The Justice Court of Torrejón de Ardoz. From X. It will move to new premises at the end of 2023.


Massimo Introvigne (born June 14, 1955 in Rome) is an Italian sociologist of religions. He is the founder and managing director of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), an international network of scholars who study new religious movements. Introvigne is the author of some 70 books and more than 100 articles in the field of sociology of religion. He was the main author of the Enciclopedia delle religioni in Italia (Encyclopedia of Religions in Italy). He is a member of the editorial board for the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion and of the executive board of University of California Press’ Nova Religio.  From January 5 to December 31, 2011, he has served as the “Representative on combating racism, xenophobia and discrimination, with a special focus on discrimination against Christians and members of other religions” of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). From 2012 to 2015 he served as chairperson of the Observatory of Religious Liberty, instituted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to monitor problems of religious liberty on a worldwide scale.

Further reading about FORB in Spain on HRWF website

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INDIA: Bomb attempt against Jehovah’s Witnesses’ gathering

IMAGE SOURCE, PTI -The explosions took place during a prayer meeting of the Jehovah’s Witnesses

INDIA: Bomb attempt against Jehovah’s Witnesses’ gathering: three dead and dozens injured

A former Jehovah’s Witness claims responsibility. After Germany (March 2023) and Italy (April 2023), Jehovah’s Witnesses are now killed in a bomb attack in another democracy, India

By Willy Fautre, director of Human Rights Without Frontiers.


HRWF (31.10.2023) – An explosive device blew up at a convention center in southern India killing three persons and wounding dozens of others on Sunday 29 October.

About 2,300 Jehovah’s Witnesses were gathered for a three-day gathering at the Zamra International Convention Center in the town of Kalamassery in Kerala state when the explosion took place.


The state’s top police officer, Sheik Darvesh Saheb, said an initial investigation has revealed an improvised explosive device was used.

The wounded, many of them with burn injuries, were transported to hospital for treatment, he said.

Videos filmed right after the blast and shared online showed fire inside the convention center and rescuers helping people evacuate the building.


Dominic Martin, a former Jehovah’s Witness, claimed in a six-minute Facebook video, subsequently removed that he was behind Sunday’s deadly massive blasts at a gathering of the Christian group.


He surrendered to cops after posting the footage online saying he was responsible for the explosions at the Zamra International Convention Center in Kerala. He was put in custody.


He said in a social media posting claimed Jehovah’s Witnesses were “anti-national”, refusing to sing the national anthem, and said he tried to convince the group to change its views on a number of its teachings.


Hindu nationalism is responsible for many acts of violence against Muslims and Christians in India.


About 2,300 Jehovah’s Witnesses were attending the three-day event at the convention center and Martin was not registered to attend.


The movement has about 60,000 followers in India which has a population of over 1.4 billion inhabitants. It is apolitical and non-violent. In all the countries where they are established, their members are conscientious objectors to military service.


Jehovah’s Witnesses are a global religious minority in over 200 countries and territories.


Media coverage

International media outlets largely and fairly covered the bomb blast.


The Hindu was however virulent about the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses, voicing the hate speech of the perpetrator of the bomb attempt.


As to the French-language media outlets of France and Belgium, two democratic states known for their hostility towards Jehovah’s Witnesses and other minority religious movements, they have ignored the incident as if it had never happened.


On 29 October, the Agence France Presse (AFP) issued a press release titled “India: two dead and 35 injured in an explosion at a Christian gathering.” Noteworthy is that AFP avoided mentioning Jehovah’s Witnesses as victims in the title. In a biased and useless way, AFP said Jehovah’s Witnesses were “regularly accused of being a cult.” The bad practice of qualifying a religious or belief movement as a “cult” was condemned in 2022 by the European Court of Human Rights in its decision concerning the case Tonchev and Others v. Bulgaria. The Court then stated that terms such as “cults” or those deriving from the Latin “secta” in languages other than English are “likely to have negative consequences on the exercise of religious freedom” of the members of the groups so stigmatized and should not be used in official documents. The derogatory statement of AFP contributes to the climate of hostility against a non-violent and law-abiding religious group.


Moreover, AFP wrongly links the movement of Jehovah’s Witnesses dating back to the 1870s in the US with the American Evangelical movement. Both movements have always been totally unrelated.


Kerala attacks: India police investigate deadly blasts targeting Jehovah’s Witnesses – BBC


India police detain man as suspect in explosion that killed 3 people at Jehovah’s Witness gathering – AP News

Suspect detained in an explosion that killed 3 at Jehovah’s Witness event in India – ABC News

Bomb blast at Jehovah’s Witnesses meeting in India kills 3, wounds dozens – South China Morning Post

India police probe bomb blasts that killed two in Kerala – Reuters

Explosion hits Jehovah’s Witnesses prayer meeting in India’s Kerala – Al Jazeera

Kochi convention centre blast: 2 killed, dozens injured in blasts during prayer meet; Shah calls for NIA, NSG probe – Indian Express

Thousands of members of Jehovah’s Witnesses had gathered for a meeting on Sunday.

Enraged by ‘teachings’ of Jehovah’s Witnesses, planted bombs, says suspect – The Hindu

Bomb blast at Jehovah’s Witnesses meeting in India kills 2, wounds dozens | South China Morning Post (scmp.com) – South China Morning Post

Ex-Jehovah’s Witness claims responsibility in Facebook video for deadly blasts in India – New York Post

Further reading about FORB in India on HRWF website

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RUSSIA: A Jehovah’s Witness deprived of his citizenship and deported

Photo: After his release from the penal colony, Seidkuliev was kept in a deportation center and expelled from the country (Credit: Jehovah’s Witnesses Russia)

RUSSIA: A Jehovah’s Witness deprived of his citizenship and deported to Turkmenistan

By Willy Fautré


European Times (25.10.2023) – On September 17, 2023, employees of the Federal Migration Service, contrary to a court decision, deported Rustam Seidkuliev to Turkmenistan. Earlier, at the initiative of the FSB, his Russian citizenship was revoked due to criminal prosecution for his faith.


Seidkuliev was sentenced to two years and four months to penal colony for participating in worship services and talking about Bible topics. In total, Rustam spent a little more than a year and ten months behind bars. After Seidkuliev’s release from the colony, additional punishment came into force. It was not associated with imprisonment and allowed him to live with his wife and move freely around Saratov, and to communicate with friends and to work.


Judicial proceedings

In January 2020, the Investigative Committee initiated a criminal case against Rustam Seidkuliev. He was accused of extremism for reading and discussing the Bible. Two weeks later, the police arrested him in a shopping center in Adler. He was transported to the city of Saratov and placed under house arrest for seven months. In March 2021, Seidkuliev’s case came to court. Two months later he was found guilty and sentenced to two and a half years in a general regime colony. The regional court reduced this period by two months. The Court of Cassation approved this decision. Seidkuliev served his sentence in Penal Colony-33 in Saratov. During this time, the FSB accomplished the revocation of his Russian citizenship. In April 2023, he was released from the colony, and in September he was deported to Turkmenistan.



According to Seidkuliev himself, FMS officers tried to expel him from the country twice. The first attempt was on September 15, but the flight was delayed, and the believer was returned to the detention center. “The next day, the staff came and said, ‘You have 15 minutes to get ready,'” the believer recalls. “After that, they were taken to Moscow by car, explaining the rush because of the order of the authorities.”

Seidkuliev arrived in Ashgabat at 3 a.m. There he was kept at border control for about 12 hours and released after paperwork was completed.

More than 20 years ago, Rustam’s stepfather was deported from Turkmenistan because he was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. This is how the Seidkuliev family ended up in Saratov.

Rustam Seidkuliev became the fourth Jehovah’s Witness to be deported from the country by the Russian authorities because of his religion since 2017. Previously, this happened to Dennis ChristensenFeliks Makhammadiev and Konstantin Bazhenov.



At the Warsaw Human Rights Conference earlier this month, Jehovah’s Witnesses recommended that Russia

  • annul the April 2017 Supreme Court decision that banned and liquidated the legal entities of the Witnesses
  • release all Witnesses in detention
  • remove the Witnesses’ religious literature, including the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (the Holy Bible), from the Federal List of Extremist Materials
  • return all confiscated property owned or used by the Witnesses
  • enforce media standards prohibiting libel and slander
  • abide by Russia’s Constitution and respect international law, including the binding judgments of the European Court of Human Rights

Further reading about FORB in Russia on HRWF website

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