Week-ending 24 September 2021
On 23 September 2021 a district court in Volgograd sentenced four Jehovah’s Witnesses to more than six years in prison each on charges of extremism. Valery Rogozin was sentenced to six years and five months, Igor Yegozaryan and Sergei Melnik to six years, and Denis Peresunko to six years and three months. Prosecutors had requested sentences ranging from seven to nine years. The convictions are on the basis of a ruling by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation that designated Jehovah’s Witnesses an extremist organisation in 2017.
The Moscow Times quoted the words of a number of defendants at their trial. Valery Rogozin said: “Jehovah’s Witnesses are peaceful, politically neutral people. We learned from the Bible that only God can deal with all of humanity’s problems.” Sergei Melnik said: “I have tried to do good, to show love and justice, to take care of people.” Denis Peresunko said: “I am being judged because I learned the truth that is in the Bible and discussed it with my friends.” Igor Yegozarian said: “The whole world says that Jehovah’s Witnesses cannot be extremists, that they are pacifists, that they do not take up arms and never speak against the state, they do not interfere in politics.”
The Moscow Times, 24 September 2021: A court in the city of Volgograd in southwestern Russia sentenced four Jehovah’s Witnesses to more than 6 years in prison each on extremism charges Thursday, the religious organization said in a statement.