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The right to believe, to worship and witness
The right to change one’s belief or religion
The right to join together and express one’s belief

RUSSIA: "Extremist organisation" trial outcomes: fines and suspended sentences

Of 21 Jehovah's Witnesses convicted of "extremism" charges since late July 2020, six were given jail terms and 13 suspended sentences. Receiving a suspended sentence means a convicted person must live under restrictions specified by the judge, regularly register with probation authorities, and avoid conviction for any other offence during the probationary period or risk being sent to prison. "A suspended sentence means that you need to live under stress for many years," Jehovah's Witnesses note.

RUSSIA: "Extremist organisation" trial outcomes: jail sentences

Eight Jehovah's Witnesses and one Muslim Nursi reader are serving labour camp terms as "extremists". Six more Jehovah's Witnesses received jail terms since July. Sergey Britvin, one of two awaiting appeals, is allowed a "disabled cell" where he can lie down, his wife Natalya told Forum 18. It is so cold he must wear two jumpers and trousers. She takes him fresh colostomy bags and medications "all the time". A further 14 received suspended sentences.

CRIMEA: Fined after prosecutor "told us we'd get a warning"

Of 20 known cases in 2020 to punish Crimean religious communities which fail to use their full legal name on websites or on meeting places, 12 related to websites (mostly the VKontakte site). Nine of these were fined one month's average wages. "We were saddened and in shock," said a member of one fined community. "The prosecutor told us we'd get a warning."

CRIMEA: "My husband does not admit any guilt"

"My husband does not admit any guilt," says Svetlana Sakada, wife of one of four Jehovah's Witnesses in pre-trial detention after 1 October raids in Sevastopol. She insists that Vladimir Sakada "has conducted no crimes against the foundations of the state". The four face up to ten years' imprisonment if convicted on "extremism"-related charges. Already on trial in Sevastopol facing the same charges is fellow Jehovah's Witness Viktor Stashevsky.

CRIMEA: Ten months in Russian "prison within a prison"

Prisoners of conscience Jehovah's Witnesses Sergei Filatov and Artyom Gerasimov are being denied letters sent to them. Muslim prisoner of conscience Renat Suleimanov is being denied letters sent in his own language of Crimean Tatar. He has been held for ten months in Kamenka Labour Camp's closed zone, in a cell holding 10 prisoners, but may be released in December. All were transferred illegally to jails in Russia.

TAJIKISTAN: Conscientious objector freed, but another jailed

Rustamjon Norov, a 22-year-old Jehovah's Witness from Dushanbe, is in Khujand Investigation Prison facing prosecution for refusing compulsory military service on grounds of conscience. He faces two to five years' imprisonment if convicted. He denies accusations of falsifying his medical history to evade military service. On 1 November, conscientious objector Jovidon Bobojonov was freed under presidential prisoner amnesty after serving nine months of his two-year jail term.

UZBEKISTAN: Trial postponed, home raided to pressure human rights defender

The criminal trial of surgeon and human rights defender Doctor Alimardon Sultonov continues but has been postponed to 24 November, and his home was raided after the second hearing as human rights defender Solmaz Akhmedova of the Human Rights Alliance was present. Police confirmed to Forum 18 that this was the reason for the raid.

GEORGIA: Religious freedom survey, October 2020

As parliamentary elections approach on 31 October, Forum 18's freedom of religion and belief survey analysis notes that systemic violations of human rights continue against those who do not belong to the dominant and politically influential Georgian Orthodox Church. Problems include blocking non-Georgian Orthodox communities gaining building permits, discrimination in favour of the Georgian Orthodox Church during the coronavirus pandemic, and discriminatory laws enabling the Georgian Orthodox Church alone to acquire state property and gain tax exemption.