Photo: Yevgeny Deshko in handcuffs. Smolensk (May 2019)
Fourth believer arrested in SmolenskSmolensk Region
On May 1, 2019, a court in Smolensk sent 30-year-old Yevgeniy Deshko, who is suspected of practicing the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses, to prison for 2 months. The man was arrested on April 29, 2019 in Dagomys (Krasnodar region) and taken to Smolensk.
According to preliminary information, Yevgeny Deshko came to the attention of Smolensk law enforcement officers in the context of the criminal prosecution of Valery Shalev and other followers of the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses in Smolensk, against whom the Investigative Directorate of the FSB of Russia for the Smolensk Region opened a criminal case under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. The case became known on April 25, 2019, when searches were carried out in the homes of believers in Smolensk. The next day, the Leninsky District Court of Smolensk sent Ruslan Korolev, Valery Shalev and Viktor Malkov to jail.
This is the second such criminal case in the Smolensk region. On October 7, 2018, officers of the FSB Directorate for the Smolensk Region conducted a series of searches, during which in Sychevka (Smolensk Region) 2 women, Natalia Sorokina and Maria Troshina, were arrested. They spent more than six months behind bars, after which they were transferred to house arrest.
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, the President of the Russian Federation, as well as international organizations - the European Union External Action Service, observers of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights - 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."