Russian Jehovah's Witnesses Report Wave Of Police Raids, Detentions

2018/6/16 23:58:03

Jehovah's Witnesses have long been viewed with suspicion in Russia for their positions on military service, voting, and government authority in general. This is in stark contrast to Ukraine where Jehovah's Witnesses practice their religion freely without government interference


By Andrei Filimonov and Robert Coalson for RFE/RL, June 15, 2018 20:13 GMT


On May 30, agents of the Magadan regional branch of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) knocked at the apartment of Tatyana and Konstantin Petrov.

"It began about 10 o'clock in the evening and didn't wind up until 4 a.m.," Tatyana Petrova said of the raid. "I didn't see how it started because I was in the kitchen, but I heard my husband go to the door. I heard a woman introduce herself as someone from the electric company. She said she needed to read the meter. My husband opened the door and then a whole crowd of people pushed into the apartment."

"I was too scared to go out," she continued. "I was simply in shock and stood petrified in the kitchen. I heard loud noises as my husband was wrestled to the floor. They started asking him, 'Are you Petrov?'... Then they took him away and I didn't see him again."

On June 14, a Magadan court confirmed Petrov's detention on charges of "fomenting hatred or enmity on the basis of sex, race, nationality or religion." Petrova told RFE/RL she believes the case stems from a Jehovah's Witnesses gathering in a local hotel that Petrov helped to organize.

"As usual at those meetings, we discussed the Bible," Petrova said. "That is the crime that they are accusing my husband of."

The Petrovs' story is far from unique. Yaroslav Sivulsky, a member of the European Association of Jehovah's Christian Witnesses, told RFE/RL that nearly identical stories have been reported in recent weeks in cities from Ivanovo in western Russia to the Petrovs' hometown of Magadan in the Far East.


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