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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: "Extremism" religious freedom survey, September 2016

Russia's "Extremism" Law and associated Criminal and Administrative Codes (with ever-harsher punishments) are used to arrest, imprison or fine individuals exercising freedom of religion and belief, punish communities for meeting, and ban publications on religion which do not encourage violations of others' human rights.

RUSSIA: Punishments under anti-sharing beliefs changes begin

Three individuals – two of them foreign citizens – are the first known victims of Russia's new amendments punishing sharing beliefs, which came into force on 20 July. All were fined. A Russian citizen is due in court on 29 August. An earlier prosecution ended in acquittal.

RUSSIA: Anti-sharing beliefs changes' first use

Less than four weeks after Russia's "anti-terrorism" changes restricting sharing beliefs came into force, a Judge acquitted Vadim Sibiryev on 15 August in the first known attempted prosecution. "Anti-extremism" Police had charged Hare Krishna devotee Sibiryev for offering religious books on the streets of Cherkessk.

RUSSIA: Putin signs sharing beliefs, "extremism", punishments

President Putin has signed amendments imposing harsh restrictions on sharing beliefs, including where and who may share them, and increased "extremism" punishments, introduced with alleged "anti-terrorism" changes. There are widespread Russian protests against the suddenly-introduced changes, and may be a Constitutional Court challenge.

RUSSIA: Sharing belief restrictions, increased "extremism" punishments?

President Putin may sign amendments imposing strict limits on sharing beliefs, including where and who may share them, as well as increased "extremism" punishments, introduced with alleged "anti-terrorism" changes. There are widespread Russian protests against the suddenly-introduced changes, though some fear consequences for protesting.

RUSSIA: Eleven new "extremism" criminal trials?

Eleven further Muslims face criminal prosecution for reading works of theologian Said Nursi the authorities claim are "extremist". Five are in pre-trial detention and three under travel restrictions. A twelfth has already been given a two-year suspended sentence, the first for sharing Nursi's works online.

RUSSIA: Jehovah's Witnesses face possible liquidation

If prosecutors proceed with their threat to liquidate the Jehovah's Witness headquarters near St Petersburg, thousands of local congregations across Russia could also face prohibition of their activities and individuals could be vulnerable to criminal charges for expressing their beliefs, Forum 18 notes.

RUSSIA: 2015 prosecutions for publicly sharing beliefs

Unapproved sharing of beliefs were a quarter of 2015 prosecutions for public events in Russia. Forum 18 found 119 individuals and 3 religious organisations prosecuted, a sharp rise on 2014. Initial punishments were 80 fines, 2 short-term jailings and one community service term.

RUSSIA: Jehovah's Witness Bible to be "extremist"?

Russian prosecutors are trying to ban the Jehovah's Witness New World Bible as "extremist", Forum 18 notes. However, a Pervouralsk court refused to ban two Islamic texts citing the Koran as "extremist", in the first use of a legal amendment protecting some sacred texts.

RUSSIA: In 2015, 89 known individuals and communities prosecuted for religious literature

Unemployed Jehovah's Witness A. Bokov served six days in prison for possessing Jehovah's Witness literature the Russian authorities deem "extremist". Yevgeny Menshenin served five days in prison for sharing an Islamic video on a social network. Elista's Jehovah's Witness community and an Islamic community in Komsomolsk-on-Amur were each fined 100,000 Roubles for religious literature (Jehovah's Witnesses say the literature in Elista had been planted). These were some of the 89 known individuals and communities brought to court in 2015 under Administrative Code Article 20.29 for religious literature, Forum 18 News Service notes, a rise of a third on 2014. While more than half the prosecutions resulted from Islamic materials (many of them online), more than a third (a marked increase on 2014) were Jehovah's Witness texts. The other two were from Chinese spiritual movement Falun Gong.

RUSSIA: Eight facing criminal cases, five already under arrest

Komil Odilov was arrested in Novosibirsk and Yevgeny Kim in Blagoveshchensk in December 2015, Ziyavdin Dapayev and Sukhrab Kaltuyev in Makhachkala and Andrei Dedkov in Krasnoyarsk in March 2016, Forum 18 News Service has learned. The five – who can be held in pre-trial detention for up to one year - are among eight Sunni Muslims known to be facing FSB-led criminal prosecution on charges of "extremism" for studying the works of Turkish theologian Said Nursi. Many Russian translations of his books have been banned as "extremist" in Russia, along with many Jehovah's Witness publications. The 16 Jehovah's Witnesses convicted of "extremist" activity in Taganrog in November 2015 have failed in their attempt to have their sentences overturned. When they get the written verdicts of the 17 March decision they will decide whether to appeal further, Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18.

RUSSIA: Enforced liquidation of communities accelerates

Three Jehovah's Witness communities are trying to challenge lower court orders that they be liquidated as "extremist" and are awaiting Supreme Court decisions. The cases brought to six the number of their communities banned as "extremist". Court moves to liquidate a seventh were launched in May 2015. Since spring 2015 at least seven further Jehovah's Witness communities have received written "extremism" warnings from prosecutors, a frequent prelude to liquidation suits, Forum 18 News Service has found. A Jehovah's Witness community in Arkhangelsk applied to liquidate itself in October 2015, just weeks before Regional Governor Igor Orlov told the local Russian Orthodox Diocese website of "ongoing work to ensure the de-legalisation of Jehovah's Witnesses in Arkhangelsk Region". All these moves mark an intensification of law enforcement efforts to curtail Jehovah's Witness activity, Forum 18 notes. One Muslim community is known to have been similarly liquidated, with a second being issued a warning.