Putin and Jehovah’s Witnesses
Vladimir Putin Pledges To Look Into The Persecution Of Jehovah’s Witnesses In Russia | TIME
Russian experts – about why the persecution of a religious minority continues, despite the statement by the President of the Russian Federation
Russian human rights organization «Memorial» recognized several other representatives of the religious organization as political prisoners and persecuted for political reasons «Jehovah witnesses». The total number of adherents of this religious trend, persecuted in Russia for their beliefs, has exceeded two hundred people.
As representatives «Memorial», announcement of organizations «Jehovah’s Witnesses» extremist is unfounded, constituting a violation of the right to freedom of conscience and freedom of association, and criminal prosecution of followers of this peaceful faith – illegal and discriminatory.
Human rights activists call for the immediate release of all Jehovah’s Witnesses in custody or under house arrest and an end to the criminal prosecution.
Recall that in Russia «Jehovah witnesses» have been prosecuted for their religious beliefs following a 2017 Supreme Court ruling recognizing them «an extremist organization».
In December last year, at a meeting of the Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, commenting on the situation with «Jehovah’s Witnesses», called her «complete nonsense» and agreed that this should be dealt with, promising to talk on this topic with the head of the Supreme Court Vyacheslav Lebedev.
«Jehovah’s Witnesses are also Christians, so I don’t really understand why they should be persecuted.», – Putin said then.
After the president’s statement, the repressions subsided somewhat, but then resumed with renewed vigor. In the Siberian city of Surgut, human rights activists recorded the use of torture against believers, which received a wide public response both in Russia and around the world..
The United States imposed sanctions on Russian investigative officials suspected of torturing detained Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Department of State said interrogations were conducted under the supervision of these officers, during which at least seven believers were suffocated, electrocuted and severely beaten..
Editor in Chief «Religion and Law» Anatoly Pchelintsev in an interview with the correspondent of the Russian Service «Voices of America» noted that when believers are tortured, as is the case with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and imprisoned, it becomes clear that freedom of conscience in Russia has finally become a myth. According to Pchelintsev, this constitutional norm of the law was consigned to oblivion in the country..
«In such conditions, of course, solidarity with the international human rights community is required., – he added. – And if this topic is insufficiently covered by the media for well-known reasons, then it should be widely presented abroad. Constant pressure must be exerted on the Russian authorities to reconsider their position».
If it is practically impossible to organize such pressure from within, then it is required to do it at least from abroad, Pchelintsev stated..
As for Putin’s words about «Jehovah’s Witnesses», then, according to Pchelintsev, they «hung in the air». «Hence the question arises: who is running the state today? – president or law enforcement?» – summed up the expert.
Religious column leader «Daily journal» Svetlana Solodovnik comments for the Russian Service «Voices of America» stressed that the flywheel of repression against «Jehovah’s Witnesses» spun, and now it is difficult for the law enforcement system to back up. «The same is happening throughout the country, mostly even in the provinces, and not in the capitals. And it should take some time to cut down on overly zealous employees and bring everything more or less into the normal framework.», – notes Solodovnik..
According to the journalist, in order for Putin’s remark to take effect, it was necessary to back it up with appropriate decisions, documents, but this was not done.
«Perhaps Putin is not fully in control of the process. On the other hand, he does not strive for this. It seems to me that the president is pleased with what the investigating authorities and the FSB are doing and believes that they are in their right. In any case, it is not visible that he somehow corrected their work.», – concluded by Svetlana Solodovnik