A court in Simferopol, Crimea, on Tuesday placed alleged organizer of the Yalta cell of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a religious organization banned in Russia as extremist, in detention, according to the Investigative Committee.
The man was arrested in the Belgorod Region when attempting to cross Russia’s border with another state and transported to Crimea. He is accused of organizing the activity of an extremist organization.
The cell of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Yalta was created in 2017, investigators believe. They allegedly held propagating gatherings, collected money for the cell’s operation. Most of the group participants were arrested earlier and brought to criminal liability, the statement reads.
The man, who is believed to be the thought leader of the banned organization’s cell personally controlled its activity. Currently, there are 5 defendants in the case, according to investigators. One more defendant is wanted.
In April 2017, the Supreme Court of Russia ordered liquidation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses managing organization and all its 395 local branches. In August, the Administrative Centre of Jehovah’s Witnesses was added to the list of banned extremist organizations.
Jehovah’s Witnesses religious organization has had many legal problems in Russia. Since 2009, 95 materials distributed by the organization in the country have been declared extremist and 8 Jehovah’s Witnesses’ branches have been liquidated, according to the Justice Ministry.
Jehovah’s Witnesses is an international religious organization based in Brooklyn, New York. Since 2004 several branches and chapters of the organization were banned and shut down in various regions of Russia.