Photo: Oleksiy Berchuk
The believer was detained in Moscow and forced to leave for the Amur regionAmur Region
On January 21, 2019, 43-year-old Alexei Berchuk was detained while passing through passport control at the Moscow airport. The next day, he was charged under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code, and was forced to cancel his plans and, together with the senior investigator of the FSB of Russia for the Amur Region, go to Blagoveshchensk, where his case is being investigated. He signed a recognizance not to leave.
Before the arrival of the FSB investigator from Blagoveshchensk, Aleksey Berchuk was in custody for 2 days. It turned out that on June 22, 2018, a criminal case was opened against him in the Amur Region, according to which on July 20, 2018, in Blagoveshchensk, searches were carried out in at least 5 homes of citizens who are considered Jehovah's Witnesses. Another resident of Blagoveshchensk, 31-year-old Dmitry Golik, was also involved as a defendant in a similar case. He is charged with Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (participation in the activities of an extremist organization).
Law enforcers mistakenly mistake citizens' religion for participation in the activities of an extremist organization. Prominent public figures of Russia, the Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation, as well as the President of the Russian Federation himself drew attention to this problem. Jehovah's Witnesses have nothing to do with extremism and insist on their complete innocence. The Russian government has repeatedly stated that the decisions of the Russian courts on the liquidation and prohibition of organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses "do not assess the doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses, do not contain a restriction or prohibition to practice the above teachings individually."