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
29 January 2021
RUSSIA: "The policy of expelling 'extremists and terrorists'"
After serving sentences as "extremists" for meeting to study and worship, three former prisoners of conscience face expulsion. One was deported, one may be expelled later in 2021, and one remains in detention as he is now stateless and no country has agreed to take him. "I think that the authorities – that is, de facto, the security services – perceive this measure not as an additional punishment, but as a way to get rid of the problem," says Aleksandr Verkhovsky.
18 December 2020
RUSSIA: Raids, investigations, torture
Regional Investigative Committee branches, the FSB security service, and armed police have carried out at least 86 house searches between late October and mid-December alone across 16 regions of Russia as investigations and criminal prosecutions of Jehovah's Witnesses continue. Some raids involve violence. Three Muslims who met with others to study Islam with the writings of Said Nursi are known to be under criminal investigation in Tatarstan and Dagestan.
16 December 2020
RUSSIA: "A fresh bloody wound on his forehead"
During 24 November raids by Investigative Committee officials, Police, FSB and National Guard on Jehovah's Witnesses in Moscow, armed officials hit Vardan Zakaryan in the head with a rifle butt, resulting in his two-day hospitalisation. Officers assaulted a neighbour before locating and hitting another targeted Jehovah's Witness. Officials in these and earlier torture cases refused to explain or failed to respond to Forum 18 why the suspected torturers have not been arrested and prosecuted.
25 November 2020
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.
23 November 2020
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.
20 October 2020
RUSSIA: January 2019 - June 2020 prosecutions for not showing full official name - list
98 prosecutions for not showing a full official name reached court between the beginning of January 2019 and the end of June 2020. These involved 76 registered religious organisations and 22 individuals. Most resulted in guilty verdicts and fines, and the largest increase in the number of prosecutions by religious community was of Muslims.
19 October 2020
RUSSIA: 2019-20 prosecutions increase for not showing full official name
Religious organisations continue to be prosecuted for not showing their full official names on literature, online, and most frequently on buildings. The conviction rate is 72.5 per cent. A Constitutional Court appeal may clarify the law on how and where names should be displayed. Charges are also sometimes brought against individuals, despite the Supreme Court in 2017 clarifying that this should not happen.
21 August 2020
RUSSIA: 42 known "missionary activity" prosecutions in first half of 2020 – list
Forum 18 has found 42 prosecutions in the first half of 2020 (2 of organisations and 40 of individuals) for violating Russia's July 2016 Administrative Code Article 5.26, Parts 4 and 5, which punish "illegal missionary activity". 36 of the prosecutions resulted in initial convictions, all being punished with fines (though a few were overturned on appeal). The first half of 2020 saw a conviction rate of 92 per cent. Two foreigners were ordered deported.
20 August 2020
RUSSIA: 100 known "missionary activity" prosecutions in 2019 – list
Forum 18 has found 100 prosecutions in all of 2019 (15 of organisations and 85 of individuals) for violating Russia's July 2016 Administrative Code Article 5.26, Parts 4 and 5, which punish "illegal missionary activity". 76 of the 2019 prosecutions resulted in initial convictions, almost all being punished with fines. 2019 saw a conviction rate of 89 per cent. Eight foreigners were ordered deported.
19 August 2020
RUSSIA: 142 known "anti-missionary" prosecutions in 2019-20
At least 17 organisations and 125 individuals faced prosecution in 2019 and the first half of 2020 for "missionary activity" under Administrative Code Article 5.26, Parts 4 and 5. Over 90 per cent of cases ended with convictions. Nineteen of the 125 individuals were foreigners, 10 of whom were ordered deported. One such – Tajik citizen Fayzali Kholmurodov – is still in a detention centre in Tula Region six months after his conviction.
13 July 2020
RUSSIA: 15 months in deportation centre so far
18 months after officials secretly stripped Yevgeny Kim of Russian citizenship (his only citizenship) and 15 months after he completed his jail term for exercising freedom of religion or belief, the now-stateless 45-year-old Muslim remains in the foreigners' detention centre in Khabarovsk. Uzbekistan – where he was born – refuses to accept him. In June, he asked for identity documents enabling him to leave Russia voluntarily for Turkey.
10 July 2020
RUSSIA: "Russia has deceived Interpol"
Russia is using Interpol Red Notices to try to get back at least three citizens now based abroad to prosecute them on extremism charges for exercising freedom of religion or belief. Two are Muslims who met to study their faith using the writings of Said Nursi. These Red Notices violate Interpol's rules, which ban their use in ways that violate individuals' human rights.