On Tuesday, November 24, the Russian Investigative Committee announced that it is carrying out searches targeting Jehovah’s Witnesses in Moscow, as well as in more than 20 other regions across the country.
Spokesperson for the Investigative Committee’s Moscow branch, Yulia Ivanova, told the state news agency TASS that officers have already arrested the leaders of an illegal Jehovah’s Witnesses center in the Russian capital.
“The conspiratorial gatherings took place at one of the apartments located on Chelyuskinskaya Street [in Moscow], where followers studied religious literature and other sources of information promoting the teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and carried out other activities characteristic of this organization,” Ivanova said.
State investigators have opened a criminal case for organizing the activities of an extremist organization, Ivanova added, without specifying any other details.
Asked about the raids being carried out on Jehovah’s Witnesses across the country during a press conference today, Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said that the Kremlin has no information about the investigation as of yet.
In 2017, the Russian Supreme Court declared the Jehovah’s Witnesses an extremist organization and banned their activities in Russia. President Vladimir Putin has dismissed reports about the persecution of believers as “nonsense.” That said, Russian law enforcement officials continue to arrest Jehovah’s Witnesses and bring them to trial, often resulting in prison sentences.