Illustrative photo. Source: freepik.com
Rosfinmonitoring Treats as Terrorists More Than 200 Believers. How Jehovah's Witnesses Are Deprived of LivelihoodsMoscow
Rosfinmonitoring has added more than 200 innocent Russians to the list of persons involved in extremism and terrorism. For believing in Jehovah God and reading the Bible peacefully, they lose their jobs, business, pensions, bank accounts, and even the opportunity to buy a SIM card or take out insurance. Why?
What is the "List of Terrorists and Extremists"? This is a list of persons suspected of extremism or terrorism, in respect of whom certain financial restrictions have been imposed. The reason for including a person in the list can be both real illegal activity, and simply Christian beliefs or biblical readings. At the beginning of 2020, there are about 9000 people on the list. More than 200 of them are peaceful Christians who hold the beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses.
The "List of Terrorists and Extremists" includes both those who have already been convicted and those who are under investigation, before trial and even before being charged, regardless of the degree of danger of their activities. According to the imposed restrictive measures, young mothers and fathers with many children, pensioners and labor veterans are equated with murderers or militants.
Who is behind this? The list is supervised by the Federal Financial Monitoring Service, also known as Rosfinmonitoring. This is a state structure designed to perform the functions of "countering the laundering of proceeds from crime, the financing of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction." The Chief Executive Officer is the President of the Russian Federation. The paradox is that Vladimir Putin himself called the persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses and their direct inclusion in the List "complete nonsense", but the repression of believers is intensifying. According to the position declared by the Government of the Russian Federation, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation in 2017 did not prohibit the doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses.
Phantom suspicions. Previously, in order to close the legal organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses, the security forces resorted to open planting of banned literature, today, in order to register peaceful believers as extremists, they are " included" in the membership of non-existent (closed) legal entities of Jehovah's Witnesses, allegedly continuing their activities.
Infringement of rights and freedoms. Being included in the list entails an automatic blocking of access to wages, benefits and pensions. In fact, any action that requires the use of a passport is a serious problem. A person is suspected of "money laundering of an extremist organization" and is deprived of the right to carry out any financial transactions. People cannot enter into inheritance rights, receive alimony, judicial damages, cash out money needed for the funeral of relatives or urgent treatment, draw up powers of attorney and other transactions through a notary.
"The persecution has robbed us of our livelihoods." In most cases, believers who are on the list and are under investigation are the economically active part of the population that loses the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families normally (see diagram). "We don't need trouble," the recently convicted Alexei Miretsky heard from the director after a search of his home. Employers refuse to hire a person if he cannot open an account to which to transfer the salary. There is no right to even register and receive unemployment benefits. There is no opportunity to do business, get a passport or visa, and even purchase a SIM card. Drivers cannot register a car and take out an insurance policy. The age of believers and their services to society are also not an obstacle to their inclusion in the list of extremists. The eldest of them, Elena Zayshchuk, is 85 years old!
Removal from the list. At the end of the sentence, a person often remains on the list until he begins to seek exclusion from it on his own, going through multiple bureaucratic procedures. Problems are not resolved even after de-listing. In some cases, more than a year after the closure of the criminal case, former convicts are still unable to take out car insurance, open a bank card or sell some property. They are deprived of this opportunity simply by showing their passport.
The criminal prosecution of Russian believers has acquired a huge scale and causes them serious emotional, moral and material harm. Hundreds of Jehovah's Witnesses have been placed on the Federal List of Extremists and Terrorists, although everything related to these concepts has always been alien to them. People who are "guilty" only because they sincerely believe in Jehovah God and read the Bible are "paralyzed" - deprived of ordinary, normal life in all its manifestations.