Russia jails two more Jehovah’s Witnesses for ‘extremism’

A Russian court in Siberia has sentenced two Jehovah’s Witnesses to long prison terms in the latest persecution of members of the banned Christian group.

The commission of inquiry noted on January 20, a court in the city of Seversk sentenced a Jehovah’s Witness to seven years in prison after convicting him of organizing the activities of a “banned extremist group” in the city in the Tomsk region .

The court also ruled that after serving his sentence, the Jehovah’s Witness, whose identity has not been released, will be under police control similar to a parole and prohibited from working in educational institutions or publish documents on the Internet for five years.

On January 19, another Jehovah’s Witness from Seversk, Aleksei Yershov, 69, was handed over a two-year prison sentence for allegedly participating in the activities of an “extremist group”.

According to Jehovah’s Witnesses, Yershov was charged in March 2021 based on video recordings made by someone who pretended to be interested in studying the Bible.

In one maintenance, Yershov said he handled the trial through Bible study and prayer.

Russia labeled Jehovah’s Witnesses an extremist group and banned it in 2017, leading to a wave of lawsuits and jail sentences against its members.

For decades, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been viewed with suspicion in Russia, where the mainstream Orthodox Church is championed by President Vladimir Putin.

The Christian group is known for door-to-door preaching, in-depth Bible study, rejection of military service, and non-celebration of national and religious holidays or birthdays.

According to the group, dozens of Jehovah’s Witnesses have been convicted of extremism or are in pre-trial detention.