1372 incidents, 1278 arrests, 136 searches, 17religious services disrupted
HRWF (12.11.2012) – Between 11 September 2009 and 12 May 2012 there have been 1,372 incidents where the rights of individual believers have been violated. Law enforcement officials have detained 1,278 believers, carried out 136 searches of homes and houses of worship, and disrupted 17 religious services. Individual citizens opposed to Jehovah’s Witnesses have committed 111 acts of violence against at least 208 Jehovah’s Witnesses and committed 85 acts of vandalism against their places of worship. The authorities have done little or nothing to prevent or to punish these criminal acts.
An initiative with broad implications was launched when the Russian Federation (RF) Prosecutor General’s Office began misapplying the 2006 revised Law on Counteracting Extremist Activity and using it to repress the religious activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses. As a result, a number of « extremism » cases have been initiated against Jehovah’s Witnesses in various regions of Russia. The harassment of Jehovah’s Witnesses is increasing dramatically since February 2009, as a result of an earlier directive from the RF Prosecutor General’s Office ordering all regional prosecutors’ offices to carry out investigations on their religious activities. The Ministry of Interior, the Federal Security Service (FSB), the Ministry of Justice, local police, and other governmental agencies were also instructed to assist with these investigations.
There are nearly 165,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Russian Federation, and approximately 2,500 congregations and groups. Jehovah’s Witnesses have registered 407 local religious organizations in 72 regions throughout the Russian Federation.