A lot has happened since the Russian Supreme Court tagged this religious group as an ‘extremist group.’
The ruling meant that Jehovah’s Witnesses were prohibited from everything including door-to-door evangelizing or church activities of any kind.
Since then, members of this group have gone through a lot. Their homes have been raided by Russian authorities on several occasions. These raids have led to the arrest and detention of at least four individuals.
Reportedly, 17 properties have been confiscated, while there are ongoing lawsuits to seize another 52 properties.
Jaroslav Sivulsky, a representative of the European Association of Jehovah’s Witnesses, sheds some light on the appalling situation.
In his words, “After the decision of the Supreme Court, there was a surge of religious intolerance in the country. Between March 15, 2017, and April 1, 2018, the “European Association of Jehovah’s Witnesses” received information, and far from complete, approximately 250 violations of the rights of believers, including attacks, vandalism, various kinds of discrimination, dismissals and the like.
Leaders in the number of incidents were the Krasnodar Territory (8% of the total number of incidents in the country), Crimea (5.3%), Rostov region. (4.9%), the Moscow region. (4%), Sverdlovsk region. (4%), the Altai Territory (3.6%), the Voronezh Region. (3.6%), the Krasnoyarsk Territory (3.6%), Tatarstan (3.1%), Moscow (2.7%).
“For example, we know of 27 cases of vandalism. Most often this is insulting inscriptions, damage to buildings where believers live or where divine services were held before. In 7 cases, significant damage was caused. 13 citizens reported that after the decision of the Supreme Court were dismissed or forced to resign at their own will because of their religious beliefs.”
Concerning plans to fight the ruling and restore their rights, he says, “…we filed a corresponding complaint. On December 1, 2017, the European Court of Human Rights found the complaint of Jehovah’s Witnesses acceptable, decided to consider it as a matter of priority and ordered the Russian Federation to submit its explanations by March 23, 2018.
“On March 23, 2018, the head of the Office of the Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights, Andrei Fedorov, sent to the Strasbourg Court the observations of the Government of the Russian Federation on our complaint…”
Despite all these attempts, things don't seem to be looking up for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia.