In Surgut, Jehovah's Witnesses Have Been Searched Again, Including Those Who Were Tortured by Security ForcesKhanty-Mansi Autonomous Area
Early in the morning of July 7, 2022, searches were carried out in Surgut in at least 5 dwellings of believers. The security forces again came to the apartments of Kirill Severinchk and Yevgeniy Kayryak, who were tortured by the security forces in 2019.
The new raid was carried out by the officers of the 4th investigative department of the Main Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of Russia with the participation of agents of the local Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Federal Security Service for the Tyumen region and the OMON of the Department of the Russian Guard for the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area. According to eyewitnesses, law enforcement officers behaved respectfully towards the believers. The security forces seized Bibles, personal photographs, electronic devices, storage media, bank cards, and a board game.
One of those to whom law enforcement officers came was the family of Kirill Severinchik, 24. After the search, the young man was taken to the department for interrogation, after which he was released. During mass raids in February 2019, Kirill and his father, Artur Severinchik, along with other believers, were severely beaten by security forces, forcing them to incriminate themselves. Kirill was not detained then, but his father was sent to a pre-trial detention center, where he was kept for almost a month. Now the believer is on trial for extremism and is under house arrest.
In order to conduct a similar search, law enforcement officers came to the apartment of Yevgeniy Kayryak, who was also tortured in the winter of 2019. At the moment he is under house arrest, being a defendant in the same criminal case as Artur Severinchik.
It is noteworthy that the previous searches of Kayryak and another believer in the same year were declared illegal. After meeting with relatives of the victims, Mikhail Fedotov, head of the Russian Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights, said:: “Torture is absolutely unacceptable, and allegations of torture must be verified as fully and comprehensively as possible. We cannot allow such evil to exist in our land.”
“None of the security forces who grossly violated the law have yet been punished. Impunity leads to the fact that unjustified criminal prosecution of Jehovah's Witnesses for their faith continues not only in Surgut, but throughout Russia,” Yaroslav Sivulskiy, a representative of the European Association of Jehovah's Witnesses, commented on the situation.
Currently, 5 criminal cases have been initiated in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area against 23 civilians in the region, 19 of whom live in Surgut.