Photo: Dennis Christensen in a prison cell for visits during a meeting with a lawyer. Lgov. September 8, 2020

Inside Penal Colonies and Detention Centers

Dennis Christensen can now receive letters in three languages

Oryol Region,   Kursk Region

On March 18, 2021, it became known that Dennis Christensen had the opportunity to receive letters also in English and Danish, in addition to Russian. Dennis is thrilled with this opportunity as he receives dozens of letters every day.

The believer's wife said that in Lgov colony No. 3, where Dennis is serving his sentence, a special program was installed that translates printed text from foreign languages. This will allow more fellow believers from different countries to send letters of support both by regular mail and through the Federal Penitentiary Service. Letters written by hand in a language other than Russian will not be translated or delivered to the believer.

Although the Kursk Regional Court ruled that some of the disciplinary sanctions imposed on Christensen were illegal, the believer is still being held under strict conditions of serving his sentence. He still suffers from pain in his back and arm, so his wife Irina sends her husband the necessary medications. To the delight of the prisoners, hot water was connected to the washstands, which they very much asked the administration of the colony.

The Christensen spouses are again allowed dates. The latest short-term date was on February 13, 2021. These visits usually last four hours and take place in the presence of a representative of the administration.

Support for Dennis Christensen, the first Russian prisoner of conscience from among Jehovah's Witnesses, was expressed by PACE observers, the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, the Kingdom of Denmark, the Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation and other influential organizations. “The charge and imprisonment of Christensen just for confessing his faith is an unacceptable violation of the right to freedom of religion,” the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said.

Case of Christensen in Oryol

Case history
Dennis Christensen is the first Jehovah’s Witness in modern Russia to be imprisoned only because of his faith. He was arrested in May 2017. The FSB accused the believer of organizing the activities of a banned organization on the basis of the testimony of a secret witness, theologian Oleg Kurdyumov from a local university, who kept covert audio and video recordings of conversations with Christensen about faith. There are no extremist statements or victims in the case. In 2019, the court sentenced Christensen to 6 years in prison. The believer was serving time in the Lgov colony. He repeatedly asked for the replacement of part of the unserved term with a fine. For the first time, the court granted the request, but the prosecutor’s office appealed this decision, and the prison administration threw the believer into a punishment cell on trumped-up charges. Christensen developed illnesses that prevented him from working in prison. On May 24, 2022, the believer was released after serving his sentence and was immediately deported to his homeland, Denmark.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Oryol Region
Locality:
Oryol
Suspected of:
according to the investigation, together with the others he conducted religious services, which is interpreted as “organising the activity of an extremist organisation” (with reference to the court’s decision on the liquidation of the local organisation of Jehovah’s Witnesses)
Court case number:
11707540001500164
Initiated:
May 23, 2017
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigating:
UFSB of Russia in the Oryol region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-37/1
[i18n] Рассмотрено судом первой инстанции:
Железнодорожный районный суд г. Орла
Judge:
Алексей Николаевич Руднев
[i18n] Суд апелляционной инстанции:
Орловский областной суд
[i18n] Суд апелляционной инстанции:
Льговский райсуд Курской области
Background