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The right to believe, to worship and witness
The right to change one’s belief or religion
The right to join together and express one’s belief

RUSSIA: Pentecostal churches facing possible closure, destruction

Kaluga's Word of Life Church and Oryol's Resurrection Church of God are battling, in court, official attempts to destroy their places of worship. "The City Administration received an order from the FSB to shut us down by any means," Oryol Pastor Pavel Abashin insists. Bailiffs closed the building of Nizhny Novgorod's Jesus Embassy Church. A court rejected a suit to demolish Samara's Good News Church.

DONBAS: Donetsk: Raid, fine for unregistered worship meetings

Security forces of the unrecognised Donetsk People's Republic raided Protestant Sunday morning worship on 19 January. They interrogated church leaders at the police station. In December 2018, a Makeyevka court fined another Protestant leader 10 days' average local wages for leading a community denied registration. "Each country has its own Religion Law," the rebels' Ombudsperson Darya Morozova claimed, wrongly.

RUSSIA: Will church's alleged fire safety violations be resolved?

Bailiffs have closed the building of Jesus Embassy Church in Nizhny Novgorod due to alleged "fire safety" violations, but the changing number of violations claimed, and the apparent hostility of the FSB security service, raise doubts that the church building will be reopened soon. "Of course the FSB isn't interested in fire safety," Alexander Verkhovsky of SOVA Center commented.

DONBAS: Luhansk: No gas, electricity, water for unregistered communities

The rebel Luhansk People's Republic – which denies registration to many religious communities including all Protestants – threatens to cut off gas, electricity and water to places of worship belonging to unrecognised communities. The rebel authorities have allowed the only Catholic priest to return to the territory, but have not said if he can remain permanently or only for three months.

DONBAS: Luhansk: Soviet-era prisoner of conscience to be jailed again?

Officers of the State Security Ministry of the unrecognised Luhansk People's Republic threatened Baptist Pastor Vladimir Rytikov – a Soviet-era prisoner of conscience – with an "extremism" criminal prosecution if he continues to lead worship without official permission. Prosecutors are still investigating Orthodox Church of Ukraine priest Anatoli Nazarenko on "extremism" charges.

TAJIKISTAN: Alleged "extremist", alleged Shia, jail, torture

36-year-old Muslim Khayriddin Dostakov is spending his birthday in jail under criminal investigation after having been arrested and tortured. Officials allege he spread "extremist ideas", and questioned him about whether he has become a Shia Muslim or spread Shia beliefs. Dostakov "was tortured with electric shocks" and "lost consciousness several times", Bakhrom Khamroyev of Memorial told Forum 18.

TURKMENISTAN: First 2020 conscientious objector jailing

A Dashoguz Region court jailed Jehovah's Witness conscientious objector Kamiljan Ergashov for two years on 13 January, the first such jailing of 2020. He had offered to do an alternative civilian service but Turkmenistan does not offer this. He is likely to join the eight other jailed conscientious objectors in Seydi labour camp, known for harsh conditions and torture.

RUSSIA: Three more Jehovah's Witness "extremism" convictions

As criminal trials of people exercising freedom of religion continue, three more Jehovah's Witnesses have been convicted of "extremist activity". Grigory Bubnov was given a six-year suspended jail sentence while Roman Markin and Viktor Trofimov were each fined about a year's average local wages. The Judge ordered two of Bubnov's Bibles to be destroyed. The court has not explained why.