f18 Logo

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: "Russia has deceived Interpol"

Russia is using Interpol Red Notices to try to get back at least three citizens now based abroad to prosecute them on extremism charges for exercising freedom of religion or belief. Two are Muslims who meet to study their faith using the writings of Said Nursi. The Red Notices appear to violate Interpol's rules, which ban their use in ways that violate individuals' human rights.

RUSSIA: Three prisoners of conscience stripped of citizenship

Authorities have stripped Russian citizenship from three men jailed for exercising freedom of religion or belief: Muslim Yevgeny Kim in January 2019, and Jehovah's Witnesses Feliks Makhammadiyev and Konstantin Bazhenov in April 2020. Kim and Makhammadiyev are now stateless. Russia has been trying to deport Kim since 2019, and might try to deport Makhammadiyev and Bazhenov when they complete their jail terms.

RUSSIA: Currently jailed, serving suspended sentences, fined - list

Eleven people are serving prison terms and eight suspended sentences under the Extremism Law for exercising their freedom of religion and belief. A further seven have been fined. One man was sentenced to assigned labour, but this was changed on appeal. Of these, 25 are Jehovah's Witnesses, and two are Muslims who met with others to study the works of the Turkish theologian Said Nursi.

RUSSIA: 6.5 years' jail for building "world theocratic state" with 700 roubles

A Pskov court handed a six and a half year jail term to 61-year-old Jehovah's Witness Gennady Shpakovsky. This is the second-longest jail term yet on "extremism"-related charges for meeting with others to pray and study beliefs. Muslim Ilgar Aliyev received an eight-year prison term in 2018. Prosecutors claimed two jars of small donations Shpakovsky had were to finance building a "world theocratic state".

RUSSIA: UN Working Group condemns detentions. Trial list

Full list of 93 people currently on trial for exercising the right to freedom of religion and belief as Jehovah's Witnesses. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has adopted a wide-ranging Opinion condemning the "ever-growing number of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia who have been arrested, detained and charged with criminal activity on the basis of mere exercise of freedom of religion".

RUSSIA: 43 trials with 93 defendants

For 93 people on trial in 43 cases for "continuing the activities of a banned extremist organisation" since the Supreme Court ban on Jehovah's Witnesses, court proceedings can be lengthy. As well as the strong possibility of conviction, bringing with it a criminal record and a heavy fine or prison sentence, prosecution and trial can have wider consequences, including blocking of bank accounts, dismissal from work and seizure of property.

RUSSIA: On trial despite age, sickness

Of the 93 people on trial in 43 cases for "continuing the activities of a banned extremist organisation" for exercising freedom of religion or belief since the Supreme Court ban on Jehovah's Witnesses, 85-year-old Yelena Zayshchuk is the oldest. Five fellow defendants in her case are in their sixties or seventies. All face up to six years' imprisonment if convicted. Two defendants in their sixties died in April before trials began.

RUSSIA: Mass raids, new arrests on "extremism" charges

Police raided 20 Muslim women's homes in Naberezhnyye Chelny in Tatarstan. One woman suffered a heart attack and was placed in intensive care. A court ordered two months' house arrest for 62-year-old Nakiya Sharifullina as she is investigated on criminal "extremism" charges for meeting to study theologian Said Nursi's works. A Dagestan court ordered two months' pre-trial detention for Ibragim Murtazaliyev as he is investigated on similar charges.

RUSSIA: 32nd Jehovah's Witness criminal conviction

On 1 April, Igor Ivashin became the 32nd Jehovah's Witness convicted of "continuing the activity of an extremist organisation" since the 2017 Supreme Court ban. A Siberian court handed him a six-year suspended sentence, requiring him to live under restrictions. Jehovah's Witness Vladimir Alushkin was freed from pre-trial detention after nearly ten months after a court overturned his six-year jail term. He and five others face a new trial.

RUSSIA: Impunity for officials who torture?

No officials accused in three cases of torture of individuals detained for exercising freedom of religion or belief appear to have been arrested or put on criminal trial. Prison officials in Blagoveshchensk between 2015 and 2017 oversaw the torture of Yevgeny Kim, which included broken ribs and attempted rape. Investigators in Surgut in February 2019 hooded, kicked, beat and tortured seven Jehovah's Witnesses with electric shocks.

RUSSIA: More Jehovah's Witnesses tortured this month

Jehovah's Witnesses state that this month (February 2020), prison guards tortured five of their prisoners of conscience in the Urals city of Orenburg, and National Guard officers tortured two adherents in the Siberian city of Chita. The torture included beatings, choking and electric shocks. No officials have yet been arrested for the tortures.

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.