The occupation court of Yalta in the annexed Crimea has sentenced four followers of the Church of Jehovah’s Witnesses to various terms of imprisonment, accusing them of participating in the organisation and financing of an “extremist community”.
Quote: “The three organisers were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment: from six years six months to 6 years 1 month, which will be served in a general regime penal colony. Also, after the expiration of the specified term, they will be restricted in freedom for a period of one year. The court sentenced the active member of the group to a three-year suspended sentence with a similar probationary period. The court’s verdict has not entered into force.”
Details: The Russians say that 5th Jehovah’s Witnesses is currently “on the international wanted list. The names of the convicts and the accused are not specified, and they have not made any public comments.
The Russian authorities have been persecuting Jehovah’s Witnesses since the mid-2010s, and in 2017, the Supreme Court banned their activities in Russia and recognised them as extremist. The decision was actively criticised by human rights groups and the international community, and in June, it was recognised as inconsistent with Moscow’s commitments by the European Court of Human Rights.
Hundreds of church members have been convicted of extremism under criminal articles in Russia, and more than a hundred of them have been sent to prison.