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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: Two years' jail to punish religious study meetings

The two-year jail term a Novosibirsk court handed to Imam Komil Odilov on 29 June brings to 13 the number of people known to have been jailed to punish them for meeting with others to study Islam using the works of Turkish theologian Said Nursi.

RUSSIA: Protestants targeted in Nizhny Novgorod

Two African students from a Nizhny Novgorod Pentecostal Church were fined and ordered deported for appearing in videos of worship services. The FSB initiated the cases. The Church has also been fined. "The charges of illegal missionary activity are completely unlawful," Pentecostal Union lawyer Vladimir Ozolin told Forum 18.

RUSSIA: Longest jail term yet for religious meeting

In the longest known jail term so far for meeting with others for religious study, a Dagestan court sentenced Ilgar Aliyev to eight years' jail plus two years' restrictions for meeting to study Muslim theologian Said Nursi's writings. Similarly, a Krasnoyarsk court fined another Muslim, Aleksei Dedkov, more than six months' average local wages.

RUSSIA: Further raids, arrests of Jehovah's Witnesses

State agencies launched multiple armed raids on Jehovah's Witnesses' homes in four further regions. Long interrogations followed, including of an 83-year-old woman. Courts put another five people in pre-trial custody as they face criminal investigation. Twelve Jehovah's Witnesses are now behind bars, with at least 30 facing criminal cases.

RUSSIA: 28 new raids, now 20 criminal investigations

Officers launched 28 raids on Jehovah's Witness homes in May, often forcing entry, threatening occupants with weapons and seizing literature and other items. Under criminal investigation are 6 Jehovah's Witnesses in pre-trial detention, 2 under house arrest and at least 11 under travel restrictions. Two others are already on trial.

RUSSIA: Will Constitutional Court reduce "anti-missionary" prosecutions?

Lawyers have cautiously welcomed a March Constitutional Court ruling, hoping it will reduce "missionary activity" prosecutions. However, the first case seeking compensation for an unjustified "missionary activity" prosecution failed. Glorification Pentecostal Church's case against Krasnoyarsk Regional Prosecutor's Office and Russia's General Prosecutor was rejected.

RUSSIA: Another "extremism"-related criminal trial imminent?

The criminal trial in Krasnoyarsk Region of a fourth local Muslim accused of "extremism" for meeting with others to study the works of Muslim theologian Said Nursi appears imminent. Other criminal trials on similar charges of Jehovah's Witnesses and Muslims continue.

RUSSIA: Armed raids, criminal investigations, pre-trial detentions

One year after Russia's Supreme Court banned Jehovah's Witnesses, officers mounted armed raids on homes in four regions, some holding guns in individuals' faces. Up to four people in custody and a fifth under travel restrictions face criminal investigations of organising or participating in a banned organisation.

RUSSIA: "Everyone has become much more cautious"

The authorities use two Administrative Code articles to confine the exercise of freedom of religion and belief to easily regulated places, and to limited numbers of people. "Where the boundaries of lawful behaviour lie is incomprehensible," a Hare Krishna lawyer told Forum 18.

RUSSIA: Increasing land use fines "a lottery"

The number of fines for meeting for worship on land not designated for religious use (such as in homes) has increased sharply from 2016. One lawyer compared the legal situation to fining a driver whose passengers drink tea because a road is not designated for drinking tea.

RUSSIA: Ten years' jail for religious study meetings?

Ilgar Aliyev – a Muslim who studied Islam with others using books by theologian Said Nursi – faces up to 10 years' imprisonment if convicted at his Dagestan trial. Imam Komil Odilov faces up to eight years on similar charges. The criminal trials of two others have lasted nearly a year.

RUSSIA: Two criminal trials, three criminal investigations

The criminal trial of Danish Jehovah's Witness Dennis Christensen, accused of "continuing the activities of a banned extremist organisation", began in Oryol after nearly nine months' detention. Investigators launched three similar criminal investigations against Jehovah's Witnesses in Belgorod, Kemerovo and Oryol. Arkadya Akopyan is on trial for inciting religious hatred.