On July 31, 2019, the FSB Directorate for the Republic of Karelia conducted in the cities of Petrozavodsk and Kondopoga at least 15 searches in the homes and workplaces of citizens who are considered Jehovah’s Witnesses. Men and women were detained for interrogation, some overnight. Several people still do not get in touch, presumably they are detained.
A criminal case was opened on the basis that in 2017 the Supreme Court of Russia banned the activities of all organizations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia at once. Law enforcement authorities interpret this decision as a total ban on worship of Jehovah (“Jehovah” is the name of God in the Bible).
In most cases, believers were caught by law enforcement officers at home. To some, capture groups appeared at workplaces. Spouses Maxim and Maria Amosov were detained on the street, while the woman was torn coat. A search in the apartment of Mikhail Gordeev, where he lives with his wife, minor daughters and mother-in-law, was carried out until the evening. During the searches, phones, tablets, computers and the like were seized from citizens.
Judging by the investigators, a criminal case was opened against 44-year-old Alexei Smelov from Kondopoga and 42-year-old Maxim Amosov from Petrozavodsk. Both men have families that are struggling with unjust criminal prosecution.
Exactly 3 years ago, on July 28, 2016, the Karelian special services staged a campaign of intimidation for believers by breaking into the service buildings of Jehovah’s Witnesses Petrozavodsk and Kostomuksha with machine guns. Believers roughly fell to the floor, pressed with a knee, kicked.
Law enforcement officers illegally call religion of citizens participation in an extremist organization. Obvious public figures of Russia, the Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation, the President of the Russian Federation, as well as international organizations — the European Union’s foreign policy service, observers of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights — drew attention to this problem. Jehovah’s Witnesses have nothing to do with extremism and insist on their complete innocence. The Russian government has repeatedly stated that decisions of the Russian courts on the liquidation and prohibition of Jehovah’s Witnesses organizations “do not provide an assessment of the creed of Jehovah’s Witnesses, do not contain a restriction or prohibition to practice the above teachings individually.”