“They want to show that they can break anyone they do not control,” his lawyer said of Russian justice. He announced his intention to appeal. Since 2017, the movement of Jehovah's Witnesses has been banned in Russia.
A member of the Jehovah's Witnesses was sentenced on Tuesday, November 5 to six years in prison by a court in Siberia, this religious movement being banned since 2017 in Russia and in the sights of the authorities. “The verdict was made today”Olga Chevtsova, spokeswoman of the Oktyabrskiy court in Tomsk city, said, confirming information from the Russian media. She added that Sergei Klimov, 49, was accused of being “Organizer” an extremist group.
He had been detained since June 2018 in this case. His lawyer, Arthur Leontiev, announced his intention to appeal. “They want to show that they can break anyone they do not control”he said commenting on the verdict. Sergei Klimov will also be banned from leaving Tomsk for one year after his prison term, a sentence reminiscent of the treatment reserved for political prisoners in the Soviet Union.
“You punish a person who reads the Bible in the same way as if he had killed someone.said Yaroslav Sivoulski, spokesperson for the European Association of Jehovah's Witnesses, saying he was shocked by the “cruelty” of pain. This conviction also provoked reactions from the Russian opposition. “They lock people simply for their belief in God”said on Twitter the main Russian opponent Alexei Navalny.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov defended a verdict respectful of the legislation in force “on sects” and added that no changes to the law were planned.
Since April 2017, the rigorous religious movement of Jehovah's Witnesses is banned in the country because it is considered “extremist” by the Russian Ministry of Justice. It has 175,000 followers in Russia. More than 100 of them are being prosecuted in the country. In February, The world the six-year sentence of a Jehovah's Witness of Danish nationality living in Russia to “activities in an extremist organization”.