In Gorno-Altaisk, searches were carried out in at least four families of believers. According to the European Association of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a criminal case has been initiated against 45-year-old Alexander Kalistratov under an extremist article. In 2010, he was the first convicted Jehovah’s Witness in Russia, but then the sentence was canceled, transmits Taiga.Info.
During the searches, the FSB officers seized electronics, “prohibited literature and other items and documents related to the case.”
The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Republic of Altai stated that Kalistratov “committed actions of an organizational nature aimed at continuing the illegal activities of a banned organization by convening meetings, recruiting new members, for the purpose of secrecy, determined the places and methods of their conduct using software for video calls over the Internet.”
The case was initiated under Part 1 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code (organization of the activities of an extremist organization).
The European Association of Jehovah’s Witnesses said that Kalistratov first encountered religious discrimination in 2000.
“The believer decided to exercise his right to alternative civilian service, but a criminal case was opened against him for refusing to take up arms. Alexander was arrested and placed in a pre-trial detention center for 21 days. However, in May 2000, the Gorno-Altai City Court acquitted Kalistratov, not seeing corpus delicti in his actions, and recognized his right to rehabilitation, ”the organization noted.
In 2010, a case was initiated against Kalistratov under Art. 282 of the Criminal Code (inciting hatred or enmity). Then the court issued the first conviction in the history of Russia against a Jehovah’s Witness, but the Supreme Court of the Altai Republic overturned the decision and the man was found not guilty with the right to rehabilitation.
The organization “Jehovah’s Witnesses” was banned on the territory of Russia in April 2017, after which criminal cases began to be initiated against the followers of this religious teaching. By data Memorial Human Rights Center, at least 75 Jehovah’s Witnesses are currently in custody. Of these, 35 believers were sentenced to real terms of imprisonment. During the investigation, the detainees were subjected to torture.
At the same time, the Russian authorities declarethat there is no religious persecution in the country.
In December 2021, during another search in Samara, Jehovah’s Witnesses were tortured with a hot kettle. According to the organization, the security forces “began to put a heated kettle on the hands of the owner of the apartment and pour hot water on his hands, feet and neck” because he refused to reveal the password to the laptop. A similar situation happened with another believer.