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Russian committee to investigate torture of Jehovah’s Witnesses despite denying two days ago that any torture occurred

Russia’s Investigative Committee will investigate reports that members of the religious group Jehovah’s Witnesses, which is officially banned in Russia, were tortured in the Siberian city of Surgut.

Local Investigative Committee employee Oleg Menshikh told Interfax about the committee’s intentions. He said, “We have still received no official notice of any torture. However, given the stir that has arisen after these reports were published in the media, a decision has been made to undertake a preliminary investigation.”

Menshikh told reporters that both the members of Jehovah’s Witnesses who were interrogated in Surgut and the officials who interrogated them will be questioned. The investigation will follow widespread reports on a February 19 announcement that at least seven Jehovah’s Witnesses faced beatings, suffocation, and electric shocks to the groin after mass arrests in Surgut. On February 20, the Investigative Committee denied the reports.