In the Stavropol Territory, a criminal case has been initiated against 82-year-old Jehovah’s Witness Zinaida Minenko. The court took into account the advanced age and visual disability of the accused of extremism and assigned her a preventive measure in the form of a recognizance not to leave, informs website of the religious organization “Jehovah’s Witnesses”.
Minenko is one of the oldest defendants in the extremism case in Russia. Earlier, the Stavropol security forces initiated a similar case against 90-year-old Rimma Vashchenko from the city of Nevinnomyssk, but she died in January 2021 even before the case was considered in court.
On November 26, 2021, at 07:00 in the resort town of Zheleznovodsk, officers of the FSB and the Center for Combating Extremism began searches at several addresses, including Minenko’s house. The investigative actions lasted from one to five hours. On several occasions, believers say, operatives planted flash drives with unknown content on them, as well as books that were included in the Federal List of Extremist Materials.
During the searches, electronic devices, storage media, photographs, personal records, and bank cards were seized. The security forces also confiscated a large amount of personal savings from one woman.
The religious organization stressed that the searches concerned three women who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses. Believers consider this to be a corollary error that occurs quite often. “Recently, there was an anecdotal case in Khakassia, where the“ Jehovah’s Witness ”was presented as a deputy from“ United Russia ”, although the“ Jehovah’s Witnesses ”in principle do not participate in politics. It turned out to be just the believer’s namesake ”, – told to the project “Caucasus.Realities” the representative of the European Association of “Jehovah’s Witnesses” Yaroslav Sivulsky.
According to him, pensioners are being prosecuted in the case of Jehovah’s Witnesses not only in the Stavropol Territory. Moreover, in Khakassia, Krasnodar Territory, Novosibirsk, elderly believers received real terms of imprisonment, despite a number of chronic diseases.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses organization was banned on the territory of Russia in April 2017, after which criminal proceedings were initiated against the followers of this religious doctrine. By data human rights center “Memorial”, at least 75 “Jehovah’s Witnesses” are now in custody. Of these, 35 believers were sentenced to real terms of imprisonment. During the investigation, the detainees were tortured.
At the same time, the authorities of the Russian Federation declarethat there is no religious persecution in the country.