On November 27, 2019, the Naberezhnye Chelny City Court refused to consider the case against Ilkham Karimov, Konstantin Matrashov, Vladimir Myakushin and Aydar Yulmetyev. The court pointed out a significant violation of the law committed in the pre-trial stage and returned the case to the prosecutor of the Republic of Tatarstan.
Legal Victories and International Support
On November 20, 2019, the Lensky District Court of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), chaired by Judge Sergey Osmushin, returned to the prosecutor's office the case initiated on June 29, 2018, agains
On November 12, 2019, the Leninsky District Court of Vladivostok, chaired by Judge Anton Sklizkov, returned the case naming Valentin Osadchuk to the prosecutor. The defendants in this case are also six women, the oldest of whom is 85 years old.
Court of Appeal in Kostroma Secures the Right of Young Spouses to Worship Jehovah God Without Fear of Criminal Prosecution
On November 14, 2019, the Kostroma Regional Court approved the decision of the district court to return the criminal case to the prosecutor's office. Valeriya and Sergey Rayman are innocent.
Committee of Ministers Checked How Russia Executes the European Court's Judgments on Jehovah's Witnesses
September 23-25, 2019, in Strasbourg, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, comprising the Foreign Affairs Ministers of all its member states and supervising the execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, "insistently urged the [Russian] authorities to rapidly take all necessary measures to ensure that members of the Jehovah's Witnesses can enjoy the unhindered exercise of their individual right to freedom of religion."
“Systemic and Institutionalized Persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses.” The UN Working Group Has Rendered Its Second Opinion
On October 1, 2019, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has rendered the second opinion regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. This time the Working Group has declared the arrest of Vladimir Alushkin from Penza to be unlawful. The Working Group has expressed it’s concerns over the "issue of systemic and institutionalized persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses''.
Court in Kostroma Recognizes Right to Believe as Jehovah's Witnesses and Chastises Investigators for Unfounded Charges
On September 25, 2019, the Sverdlovsk District Court of Kostroma returned the criminal case against the couple of Valeriya and Sergey Rayman to the Kostroma prosecutor's office. In its ruling, the court emphasized that in the case of the spouses “there was a legal right to practice the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses which was not prohibited.”
In Kaluga, Appeals Court Acknowledges Violations and Discrimination in Dmitriy Kuzin’s Case. It Will Be Reconsidered
On September 9, 2019, Kaluga Regional Court upheld Dmitriy Kuzin’s complaint against the preventive measure and quashed the decision of t
“We must get to the bottom of the truth.” In Surgut, the Head of the Human Rights Council Interviewed Witnesses Who Were Tortured
On August 14, 2019, Mikhail Fedotov, the head of the Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights (HRC), met with local Jehovah's Witnesses in Surgut (Yugra) who officially announced the torture inflicted on them by law enforcement officers. The meeting was also attended by the head of the Investigative Committee in Yugra, the first deputy prosecutor of Yugra, the deputy chief of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Yugra, the deputy governor of Yugra and the mayor of the city of Surgut. On the part of the Witnesses, 28 people were present — victims, as well as members of their families who helped them cope with the psychological consequences of the experience. After the meeting, Mikhail Fedotov said: "My conclusion: We must get to the bottom of the truth. The President is very negative about the facts of torture. We remember his words that this is an absolutely unacceptable practice."
German Commissioner for Global Freedom of Religion Voices Concern Over Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia
On May 24, 2019, Markus Grübel, the German Commissioner for Global Freedom of Religion, spoke in connection with the fact that the Russian appellate court upheld the sentence of Dennis Christensen.
For the first time, Russia's Commissioner for Human Rights Tatyana Moskalkova drew attention to the unjustified criminal prosecution of Jehovah's Witnesses, and also pointed out the root of the problem.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has categorically condemned the arrests of Jehovah’s Witnesses and demanded that Russia immediately free the worshippers. We publish the whole document in Russian.
Andrey Babushkin, Chairman of the Permanent Commission to Support Public Monitoring Commissions, Penitentiary System Reform, and Crime Prophylactic, directed his appeal to the Prosecutor General and the head of the Investigative Committee.
On February 26, 2019, the European Court of Human Rights ordered the Russian government to immediately send 57-year-old Sergey Loginov—one of seven Jehovah’s Witnesses who reported torture in the building of the Investigative Committee—for an independent medical examination.
The statement urges Russia to drop all charges against Jehovah's Witnesses, to release all those detained and to revise the Federal Law on Combating Extremist Activity.
“Mr. Christensen’s conviction and imprisonment for nothing more than peacefully practicing his faith is an unacceptable violation of the right to freedom of religion."
A few hours after the announcement of the sentence on Dennis Christensen, the European External Action Service issued a statement.
Human rights organizations from 18 countries urge the Russian authorities to release immediately and unconditionally all Jehovah's Witnesses in detention and to drop the charges for the involvement in extremism.