In Magnitogorsk, Security Forces Raided Jehovah's Witnesses.Chelyabinsk Region
On the morning of April 20, 2023, in Magnitogorsk, searches were conducted in at least seven homes of local believers. Fourteen people were interrogated. Among them were two women, ages 70 and 75, and two elderly disabled spouses. Aleksandr Salnikov, age 61, was detained. On April 22 he was released.
The searches began at about 6 a.m. and continued until noon. One of the believers offered the law enforcement officers some coffee, and they admitted to her that this was the first time in 12 years that they were treated so kindly by suspects.
During the searches, electronic devices, Bibles in various translations, personal notes, and, in one case, quotes from Russian authors were seized. According to eyewitnesses, the security forces were looking for anything containing the name "Jehovah."
After the searches, the believers were taken to the local department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for interrogation. There they were asked questions about the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses. According to the believers, the security forces were trying to persuade some of them to slander fellow believers.
Magnitogorsk has been added to the list of cities in the Chelyabinsk region where government agents search the homes of Jehovah's Witnesses because of their religious views. Currently, 7 believers in this region have been given suspended sentences, and one, Ilya Olenin, has been ordered to pay a large fine.
Six years ago, on April 20, 2017, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation issued a decision to liquidate the legal entities of Jehovah's Witnesses. Although this decision did not restrict the right of believers to practice their religion, the authorities continue to unlawfully persecute civilians throughout the country. In the summer of 2022, the European Court of Human Rights fully acquitted Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia.