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Jehovah's Witnesses report convictions, torture in Russia

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Jehovah’s Witnesses report convictions, torture in Russia

MOSCOW (AP) – Two Jehovah’s Witnesses have been convicted of extremism in Russia and 4 extra arrested, certainly one of whom reported being tortured in custody, the non secular group stated Friday.

A courtroom in Kamchatka on Friday sentenced Mikhail Popov and his spouse Yelena to fines of 350,000 and 300,000 rubles ($5,500 and $4,700) for partaking in extremist actions associated to their membership in the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Earlier this week the police raided some 40 houses of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Chita, a metropolis in southern Siberia, and arrested 4 members of the group. One of them, Vadim Kutsenko, was overwhelmed and tasered by males who recognized themselves as officers of Russia’s National Guard, his lawyer Artur Ganin advised The Associated Press.

“They handcuffed him, put a hat on his head and over his eyes and drove him away in an unknown direction,” Ganin stated in a cellphone interview Friday. He stated officers introduced Kutsenko to a forest, the place they choked, beat and tasered him, attempting to extract a confession.

“He is currently in custody – in pain and worried about his family, because he was threatened that something could happen to his wife,” Ganin stated.

The National Guard didn’t reply to a request for remark.

Russia formally banned Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2017 and declared the group an extremist group. The Kremlin has actively used vaguely worded extremism legal guidelines to cra-ck down on opposition activists and non secular minorities.

Since then, a whole bunch of members have been subjected to raids, arrests and prosecution. Twenty-eight members of the group have been convicted, 9 of whom have been sentenced to pri-son, and greater than 300 persons are at the moment beneath felony investigation.

Last February, seven Jehovah’s Witnesses in western Siberia reported being tortured throughout interrogations by operatives of the Investigative Committee, eliciting widespread public outrage.

The crackdown on members of the group continues regardless of a promise by Russian President Vladimir Putin to look into “this complete nonsense.”

“Jehovah’s Witnesses are Christians, too, so I don’t quite understand why persecute them,” Putin stated at a gathering with the Presidential Council for Human Rights in 2018.

Russian authorities turned up strain on the group this yr by including over 200 Jehovah’s Witnesses to a register of extremists and terrorists, successfully chopping them off from the nation’s monetary system – being on the record results in one’s financial institution accounts being frozen and to extreme restrictions on any monetary transactions.

Jarrod Lopes, a spokesman for the Jehovah’s Witnesses world headquarters in the United States, stated in an announcement Friday that the group is “greatly disturbed” by studies of torture of their member. “It’s difficult to comprehend that such barbarism persists in a modern country with a constitution that promises freedom of religion,” Lopes stated.

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