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The Kremlin’s Political Prisoners: Prosecution of Religious Minorities in Russia in April 2020

May 01 2020

Earlier this week The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released a new annual report on the state of religious freedoms across the globe. According to the report, religious freedom conditions in Russia deteriorated in 2019.

Earlier this week The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released a new annual report on the state of religious freedoms across the globe. According to the report, religious freedom conditions in Russia deteriorated in 2019. “Russian legislation criminalizes “extremism” without adequately defining the term, enabling the state to prosecute a vast range of nonviolent religious activity,” the report highlights. In the beginning of April Memorial Human Rights Center estimated over 330 Jehovah’s Witnesses prosecuted for their religious beliefs. The USCIRF report counted 489 raids conducted by Russian authorities on the private homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses members during the year. Northern Caucasus and Crimea where Russia continues its repressive policies remain the regions of particular concern.

The list below highlights the recent updates just for the month of April in prosecution of religious minorities in Russia:

April 30 – A court in Rostov-on-Don extended the house arrest for two Jehovah’s Witnesses for another month. Ruslan Alyev and Semyon Baibak will remain under house arrest until June 5, 2020.

April 30 – A court in Simferopol, Crimea extended arrests for three more months for four persons involved in the Bakhchisaray case of “Hizb ut-Tahrir”. Osman Seytumerov, Seytumer Seytumerov, Rustem Seitmemetov and Amet Suleymanov were originally detained on March 11, 2020.

April 30 – A court in Moscow extended arrest for four Jehovah’s Witnesses until the end of July. Yuri Krutyakov was left in jail, his wife Zinaida Krutyakova, as well as Vitaly Nikiforov and Konstantin Zherebtsov, were under house arrest.

April 30 – The court left four defendants in the Alushta case “Hizb ut-Tahrir” in a pre-trial detention center until October. Crimean Solidarity activists Lenur Khalilov, Ruslan Nagaev, Ruslan Mesutov and Eldar Kantimirov were arrested in June 2019.

April 28 – Two Jehovah’s Witnesses passed ahead of trial. On April 24, a 64-year-old Yuri Geraskov died in Kirov, and on April 26 a 61-year-old Viktor Malkov passed in Smolensk. Both believers were under recognizance not to leave the place, but Malkov had previously spent 8 months in a pre-trial detention center and 3 months under house arrest.

April 21 – A court in the Bryansk region has extended the detention of two Jehovah’s Witnesses for a month. Eduard Zhinzhikov and Vladimir Khokhlov from Novozybkov, accused of organizing the activities of an extremist organization and its financing, have spent six months in a pre-trial detention center.

April 21 – In Primorye, two Jehovah’s Witnesses were charged with new charges. Now Sergey Sergeyev and Yuri Belosludtsev are accused of participating in the activities of an extremist organization and involving other people in it.

April 21 – A court in Rostov-on-Don extended the detention of three Jehovah’s Witnesses for another month. Alexander Parkov, Vilen Avanesov and Arsen Avanesov – father and son – have already spent 11 months in jail on charges of leading the local community of believers.

April 21 – A court in Novosibirsk left a 66-year-old Jehovah’s Witness in jail until July 22. Yuri Saveliev, who the investigation calls the leader of the Novosibirsk community of believers, has been in custody for almost 1.5 years – since the beginning of November 2018.

April 16 – The Military Court of Appeal upheld the Crimean Enver Seitosmanov’s sentence. In December 2019, he was sentenced to 17 years in high security on charges of involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir.

April 14 – In Dagestan, a new criminal case has been opened against the journalist of the Chernovik newspaper, Abdulmumin Gadzhiev, accused of financing terrorism, about participation in an extremist organization (part 2 of Article 282.2.)

April 7 – A court in Yekaterinburg extended the pre-trial detention for a publicist Ayrat Dilmukhametov until September 24, 2020. He was accused in extremism for his public support of convicted members of Hizb ut-Tahrir.

April 3 – In Sverdlovsk region, a new case against three previously convicted Jehovah’s Witnesses was opened, accusing them in activities of an extremist organization. In late January, Alexander Pryanikov, Venus Dulova, and her daughter Daria were sentenced to probation on charges of participating in an extremist organization.

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Activatica.org (Estonia)Activatica.org (Estonia) Article 20 (Russia)Article 20 (Russia) Euromaidan SOS (Ukraine)Euromaidan SOS (Ukraine) Free Russia Foundation (U.S., Russia, Ukraine, Georgia)Free Russia Foundation (U.S., Russia, Ukraine, Georgia) Human Rights Foundation (United States)Human Rights Foundation (United States) Action for Post-Soviet Jewry (United States)Action for Post-Soviet Jewry (United States) Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice (United States)Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice (United States) Center for Civil Liberties (Ukraine)Center for Civil Liberties (Ukraine) McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University (United States)McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University (United States) Solidarus (Germany)Solidarus (Germany) Union of Council for Jews in the Former Soviet Union (United States)Union of Council for Jews in the Former Soviet Union (United States) Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights (Canada)Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights (Canada) NEP Prague (Czech Republic)NEP Prague (Czech Republic)