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The State Department criticized the Russian authorities on Saturday over this week’s jailing of six Jehovah’s witnesses for up to three-and-a-half years.
“Deeply concerned about the Russian court decision to a prison sentence of six Jehovah’s witnesses in Saratov for peaceful religious practice,” speaker Morgan Ortagus wrote on Twitter. “We call on Russia to respect the rights of citizens to religious freedom and stop accusing falsely, the Jehovah’s witnesses of extremism.”
Reuters reports that a regional court in the southwestern city of Saratov, found the men guilty of participation in the activities of an extremist organization. Russia, the Supreme court decided in 2017, was the Christian religious community, an “extremist” organization and the group ordered to disband.
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“Yes, you were sentenced to,” a court spokeswoman announced on Friday. “Penalties ranged from three years and six months to two years (in jail).”
Danish witnesses-Jehovah’s-Dennis Christensen is accompanied by a courtroom in Russia in February. (Yuriy Temirbulatov, courtesy of Jehovah’s witnesses, via AP)
The US headquarters of the Jehovah’s witnesses have, in the face of discrimination for the years in Russia, where the Orthodox Church is supported by President Vladimir Putin. Orthodox scientists accused Jehovah’s witnesses of the state institutions and the traditional values eroding, have, according to Reuters.
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More than 250 Jehovah’s witnesses have been imprisoned since the year of 2017 the ban, according to the group. 41 are in custody and 23 are grounded to the house.
Two of the condemned face, three-and-a-half years in prison, a three years ago and three two years ago.
Religion says it has 170,000 followers in Russia and more than eight million followers in the world.
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In February, a court has ruled that a Danish Jehovah’s witnesses in Russia has to stay in prison for six years. Soon after, the Religion of accused Russian officers to torture of its members, who claimed that seven of his followers were beaten, given electric shocks and suffocated during the interrogation.