CSO of the Week: Jehovah’s Witnesses arrested, their properties searched, in 20 Russian regions

Week-ending 27 November 2020

This week the Investigative Committee arrested several Jehovah’s Witnesses and conducted searches of their properties in more than 20 regions of Russia. A member of the church, Sergei Shatalov, was arrested in Moscow and remanded in custody until 23 January 2021 on charges of organising a cell of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, an organisation that was banned in 2017 in Russia by the Supreme Court as extremist.


Sources:

RFE/RL, Tuesday, 24 November 2020: Russia’s Investigative Committee says it has arrested several Jehovah’s Witnesses and carried out raids of their homes across the country as part of a new investigation into the religious group that Moscow has labeled as extremist and banned in the country. The Investigative Committee’s Moscow office said in a statement on November 24 that officers in more than 20 Russian regions searched homes of the religious group’s members, adding that an unspecified number of “organizers and members of the movement,” had been detained. The statement added a link to a video showing law enforcement officers breaking the door of an apartment and forcing their way inside.

RAPSI, Thursday, 26 November 2020: Moscow’s Presnensky District Court on Thursday placed Sergey Shatalov, one of alleged organizers of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a religious organization banned in Russia, under house arrest until January 23, RAPSI learnt from the court’s press service.  Shatalov stands charged with organizing the work of an extremist organization. Several alleged organizers and members of Jehovah’s Witnesses were arrested in Moscow on November 24. According to investigators, in June 2019 the group created a cell of the banned organization in northeastern Moscow. Secret gatherings were held in a flat where the doctrine’s followers in particular read religious literature propagating the Jehovah’s Witnesses ideas. It was also found that the cell’s members recruited new members to the organization.

The Moscow Times, Wednesday, 25 November 2020: Russian authorities have arrested Jehovah’s Witnesses in Moscow and across 20 other regions as part of their latest investigation into the religious group that is officially banned as “extremist,” investigators said Tuesday. Video released by the Moscow branch of the federal Investigative Committee, which investigates major crimes, showed masked men prying open an apartment door and displaying Russian and foreign currency seized during the searches. In a statement, it said Jehovah’s Witnesses held “secret meetings” there, “studied religious literature” and “recruited new members.”

RAPSI, Wednesday, 25 November 2020: Several alleged organizers and members of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a religious organization banned in Russia, were arrested in Moscow on Tuesday, the Investigative Committee’s press service reports. According to investigators, from June 2019 the group created a cell of the banned organization in northeastern Moscow. Secret gatherings were held in a flat where the doctrine’s followers in particular read religious literature propagating the Jehovah’s Witnesses ideas. It was also found that the cell’s members recruited new members to the organization. In April 2017, the Supreme Court of Russia ordered liquidation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses managing organization and all its 395 local branches. In August, the Administrative Centre of Jehovah’s Witnesses was added to the list of banned extremist organizations.

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