CSO of the Week: Jehovah’s Witnesses

Week-ending 18 December 2020

This week in Novosibirsk a court sentenced Yury Savelyev to six years in prison for ‘organising an extremist group’ on 16 December 2020. Meanwhile the alleged warden of a Jehovah Witnesses organisation in the town of Chekhov, near Moscow, is to stand trial shortly.

The Moscow Times Thursday, 17 December 2020: A court in Siberia has sentenced an elderly Jehovah’s Witness leader to six years in prison for organizing an extremist group, authorities and the religious organization said Wednesday. The Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia said Yury Savelyev, 66, has spent almost half his sentence in pre-trial detention and is expected to be released in 2023. Authorities accused him of “supervising readings and discussions of extremist literature” in his apartment in Russia’s third-largest city of Novosibirsk after Russia outlawed Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2017 and until his arrest in 2018.

RFE/RL, 16 December 2020: A Siberian member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses has been sentenced to six years for organizing activities of the religious group that Russia has labeled as extremist and banned in 2017. Jarrod Lopes, a spokesman for the headquarters of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States, told RFE/RL that the Lenin district court in the city of Novosibirsk sentenced 66-year-old Yury Savelyev on December 16 after finding him guilty of involvement in organizing of “activities of a banned group” in the city. “[Savelyev’s sentencing] defies international human rights norms, which is why the European Union, Britain, the United States, and the United Nations have repeatedly called on Russia to stop its systematic persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses,” Lopes said in an e-mailed statement to RFE/RL.

RAPSI, Wednesday, 16 December 2020: An alleged warden of a banned Jehovah’s Witnesses cell in the town of Chekhov near Moscow, faces trial, RAPSI has learnt in the press service of the Moscow Region’s directorate of the Investigative Committee. Investigation into the cell is completed. According to investigators, the alleged warden and other group members knew that the organization had been banned as extremist but held and took part in the gatherings and propaganda of its activities. Extremism charges are brought against them.

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