Legal Case of the Week: Jehovah’s Witness in Crimea sentenced to six and a half years in prison

Week-ending 2 April 2021

This week a court in Crimea, annexed by Russia, jailed Viktor Stashevsky, a Jehovah’s Witness, for six and a half years for organising the activities of an extremist group. Meanwhile in Tomsk the Investigative Committee charged four Jehovah’s Witnesses with participating in an extremist group. In 2017 the Supreme Court designated the Jehohvah’s Witnesses as an extremist organisation.


RFE/RL, 29 March 2021: A Moscow-imposed court in the Russian-annexed Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula of Crimea has sentenced a Jehovah’s Witness to a lengthy prison term amid an ongoing crackdown against the religious group. The Gagarin district court in the city of Sevastopol said on March 29 that it had sentenced a local resident to 6 1/2 years in prison after finding him guilty of organizing activities of the group that was labeled as extremist and banned in Russia in 2017, but is legal in Ukraine. The court did not mention the man’s name, but the Crimean Human Rights Group identified him as Viktor Stashevsky. Prosecutors had asked the court to sentence Stashevsky to seven years in prison.

The Moscow Times, 30 March 2021: A court in Russia-annexed Crimea said Monday it has jailed a Jehovah’s Witness for six and a half years on charges of organizing an extremist group in the country’s latest prison sentence against members of the Christian denomination. The Sevastopol-based Gagarin district court said in a statement that it found the defendant guilty and sent him to a prison colony. It is one of a litany of sentences handed out to Jehovah’s Witnesses since Russia banned the group as an extremist organization in 2017.

RFE/RL, 30 March 2021: Russian authorities have opened a criminal case against four Jehovah’s Witnesses in Siberia, in the latest persecution against the religious group. The Investigative Committee in the Tomsk region charged the four believers for participating in an extremist group, the human rights monitoring group OVD-Info and Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia said on March 29. The four were identified as Sergei Belousov, Andrei Kolesnichenko, Aleksei Ershov, and Andrei Ledyaykin. The case was opened in Seversk, a closed city due to its nuclear and chemical facilities.

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