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17 September 2019

RUSSIA: Mosque demolished, church to follow?

Officials repeatedly rebuffed attempts to legalise ownership of the land where Good News Pentecostal Church in Samara has worshipped for two decades. Officials want to demolish the church, at the congregation's expense. A court hearing is due on 25 September. In May, officials bulldozed a mosque built on farmland near Chernyakhovsk in Russia's Kaliningrad exclave, claiming it violated planning regulations.

6 September 2019

RUSSIA: Losing places of worship

Complex, sometimes contradictory, and often inconsistently applied legislation can lead religious communities to lose their places of worship. Officials barred a Baptist community in Novorossiysk from using its church "for religious purposes", despite the fact that it has worshipped on the same site for two decades. Local authorities are often unwilling to permit the construction of purpose-built churches and mosques.

12 July 2019

RUSSIA: First Jehovah's Witness ban conviction, more trials underway

In the first conviction deriving from the Supreme Court ban on all Jehovah's Witness activity, Aleksandr Solovyov was fined nearly a year's average local wages, although prosecutors had sought to jail him. Six more trials – of 13 defendants – are underway or imminent.

28 June 2019

RUSSIA: Tortured for beliefs, suspect torturers rewarded

Contrary to Russia's international legal obligations, no official responsible for the torture of either a Muslim following his 2015 arrest or seven Jehovah's Witnesses in 2019 has been arrested or put on criminal trial. One of the victims was re-arrested after reporting the torture, and two of the officials implicated have been given awards.

31 May 2019

RUSSIA: Jehovah's Witness criminal cases - list

Full list of 200 Jehovah's Witnesses (aged between 19 and 84) known to have been charged or named as suspects for "extremism"-related "crimes" as of 31 May 2019. Of these, 30 are in detention, 28 under house arrest and 76 under travel restrictions. Cases against four were handed to court in late May.

27 May 2019

RUSSIA: Second Oryol Jehovah's Witness appeal

The appeal by Oryol Jehovah's Witness Sergei Skrynnikov against a fine of about 18 months' average local wages is due on 13 June at the same court which rejected Dennis Christensen's appeal. At least 189 Jehovah's Witnesses are facing criminal prosecution across Russia. Among them are seven men tortured in Surgut in February.

24 May 2019

RUSSIA: Jehovah's Witness appeal fails, appeal to Strasbourg

An appeal court in Oryol upheld the six-year jail term on Jehovah's Witness Dennis Christensen on "extremism"-related charges. In his final address to the court he described the accusations as "ridiculous and absurd". His wife Irina told Forum 18 he will appeal directly to the European Court of Human Rights.

22 May 2019

RUSSIA: Imprisonment completed, citizenship stripped, awaiting deportation

The lawyer for Yevgeny Kim, stripped of Russian citizenship and left stateless on completing his nearly four-year jail term for meeting with other Muslims to study Said Nursi's works, says this is the first such case he knows of. Kim was fined and is awaiting deportation to Uzbekistan.

7 May 2019

RUSSIA: 159 "anti-missionary" prosecutions in 2018 - list

Forum 18 has found 159 prosecutions in all of 2018 (56 of organisations and 103 of individuals) for violating Russia's July 2016 Administrative Code Article 5.26 "anti-missionary" restrictions. 132 of the 2018 prosecutions resulted in initial convictions (129 fines). 2018 saw a conviction rate of 90 per cent, compared with an 82 per cent conviction rate in the year from July 2016. Three foreigners were ordered deported, and one of the deportations was overturned on appeal).

6 May 2019

RUSSIA: 159 known "anti-missionary" prosecutions in 2018

At least 56 organisations and 103 individuals faced prosecution in 2018 under the 2016 "anti-missionary" legal changes. Lawyer Mikhail Frolov warns prosecutions have a chilling effect. "Believers don't understand what they can and can't do, and because of heavy fines they don't want to take the risk and therefore significantly reduce their activity, especially in public."

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