Week-ending 4 June 2021
This week five Jehovah’s Witnesses were sentenced to real terms in prison, two were given suspended sentences and one was fined. A court in Krasnoyarsk sentenced Andrei Stupnikov to six years in prison for ‘organising extremist activities. In Kursk four individuals – Andrei Andreev, Andrei Ryshkov, Armen Bagratyan and Alevtina Bagratyan – were sentenced to terms in prison ranging from two years and 4 1/2 years, while Aleksandr Vospitanyuk was given a suspended sentence. In Minusinsk a court fined Dmitry Maslov 450,000 roubles ($6,100) for taking part in the activities of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and a court in Zeya gave a suspended two-year prison sentence to 78-year-old Vasily Reznichenko on the same charge. Jehovah’s Witnesses were banned in Russia as ‘extremist’ in 2017.
The Moscow Times, 3 June 2021: Russia has sentenced six Jehovah’s Witnesses to multi-year prison terms on extremism charges, the religious organization said Thursday. Rights advocates decry Russia’s prosecutions of Jehovah’s Witnesses — which has been banned in Russia as an “extremist” group since 2017 — as infringements of religious freedom. A district court in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk sentenced engineer Andrei Stupnikov, 47, to six years in prison on charges of “organizing extremist activities,” the Jehovah’s Witnesses said in an emailed statement.
RFE/RL, 3 June 2021: At least seven Jehovah’s Witnesses have been handed prison terms in Russia amid a continuing crackdown on the religious group, which was banned in the country in 2017. Representatives of Jehovah’s Witnesses informed RFE/RL that a court in Russia’s Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk sentenced Andrei Stupnikov to six years in prison on June 3 after finding him guilty of the organization of activities of an extremist organization. Stupnikov was arrested three years ago. He was initially kept in a detention center and later transferred to house arrest. Stupnikov rejected the charge, insisting that the case against him was launched because of his religious views.