Quantcast
Connect with us

Russia jails Jehovah’s Witness for six years in landmark case

Published

on

A Russian court on Wednesday found a Danish adherent of the Jehovah’s Witnesses guilty of organizing the activities of a banned extremist organization and jailed him for six years in a case Western governments cast as a test of religious freedom.

Armed police detained Dennis Christensen, a 46-year-old builder, in May 2017 at a prayer meeting in Oryol, some 200 miles (320 km) south of Moscow after a court in the region outlawed the local Jehovah’s Witnesses a year earlier.

Russia’s Supreme Court later ruled the group was an “extremist” organization and ordered it to disband nationwide, and Christiansen’s detention, the first extremism-related arrest of a Jehovah’s Witness in Russia, foreshadowed dozens of similar cases.

A court in Oryol found Christiansen guilty on Wednesday after a long trial, his lawyer, wife and a spokesman for the Jehovah’s Witnesses told Reuters.

Christiansen had pleaded not guilty, saying he had only been practicing his religion, something he said was legal according to the Russian constitution which guarantees the right to practice any or no religion.

ADVERTISEMENT

The U.S.-headquartered Jehovah’s Witnesses have been under pressure for years in Russia, where the dominant Orthodox Church is championed by President Vladimir Putin. Orthodox scholars have cast them as a dangerous foreign sect that erodes state institutions and traditional values, allegations they reject.

But Russia’s latest falling-out with the West, triggered by Moscow’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, spurred a more determined drive to push out “the enemy within”.

After Crimea was seized, a giant poster hung in central Moscow bearing the faces of Kremlin critics and labeling them as “a fifth column”. One of them, opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, was later shot dead.

ADVERTISEMENT

Anton Bogdanov, Christiansen’s lawyer, said he planned to appeal Wednesday’s verdict, which he described as an illegal decision and part of Russia’s fight against religious freedom.

He said he feared the verdict would set a dangerous precedent.

More than 100 criminal cases have been opened against Jehovah’s Witnesses and some of their publications are on a list of banned extremist literature.

ADVERTISEMENT

Yaroslav Sivulsky, a Jehovah’s Witness spokesman, said the group was disappointed by what it regarded as an unjust verdict.

Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, said there had clearly been reasons for Christiansen’s arrest, but that he was unaware of the details of the case.

The group has around 8 million active followers around the world and has faced court proceedings in several countries, mostly over its pacifism and rejection of blood transfusions.

ADVERTISEMENT

Additonal reporting by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Christian Lowe


Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Facebook

Russia launches criminal case over gay couple’s adoption

Published

on

Russia on Wednesday said it had opened an unprecedented criminal case accusing officials of negligence for allowing a gay couple to adopt two children.

The Investigative Committee, which probes serious cases, said that Moscow social workers were suspected of criminal negligence for allowing the two boys to live in the family since 2010.

This is the first such case ever launched, reported Interfax news agency.

"Nothing like this has happened before," said lawyer Maksim Olenichev of Vykhod (Coming Out) support group based in the northwestern city of Saint Petersburg.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

GOP looks like it’s in a ‘state of panic’ after labeling combat veteran a ‘socialist loser’ for running as a Democrat: columnist

Published

on

Republicans in Cincinnati, Ohio, may have overstepped the boundaries of poor taste, calling a former Air Force pilot a "socialist loser."

As columnist Jason Williams writes in the Cincinnati Enquirer, the GOP majorly flubbed their campaign against the Democrat.

"Yeesh, not a good look for the Trump Party," Williams writes. "Democrat Nikki Foster is neither a socialist nor a loser, from what little we know about the Mason moderate after she launched her campaign in Ohio's 1st Congressional District on Monday."

Continue Reading
 

CNN

Pelosi slaps Trump with a backhanded compliment: ‘He’s a great distractor — that’s what this is about’

Published

on

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Wednesday accused President Donald Trump of making a racist attack on four U.S. congresswomen to distract from failures in his administration.

At a press conference, Pelosi told the reporters that lawmakers were "gentle" in condemning only Trump's tweets as "racist" in a recent vote.

"We weren't saying he is racist," she explained. "We were saying that the words that he used were racist."

"We all know the argument that could be made against us in terms of our philosophy, in terms of our priorities and the rest," Pelosi said. "And the president knows there are arguments that could be made against him and, therefore, he wants to distract from them."

Continue Reading
 
 
 

Copyright © 2019 Raw Story Media, Inc. PO Box 21050, Washington, D.C. 20009 | Masthead | Privacy Policy | For corrections or concerns, please email [email protected]

close-image