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Court Upholds ‘Terrorism’ Convictions While Hundreds Remain in Prison

Last week, Russia’s Supreme Court upheld the terrorism-related convictions of 19 men who are all serving prison sentences ranging from 10 to 24 years because of their alleged affiliation with Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT), an Islamic organization banned in…
Supreme court appeal hearing held via videoconference, September 2020.
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Dennis Christensen Waits in Prison; Many Other Worshippers Await Prosecution

Everything seemed to be in place for Dennis Christensen to leave a Russian prison in early July. On June 23, a judge paroled him, after he served half of a 6-year sentence, while also ordering him to pay a 400,00 ruble (US$5,714) fine. Mr. Christensen…
Dennis Christensen (behind the windows) talks with his interpreter at the Zheleznodorzhy District Court in Oryol, January 28, 2019
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Allegations of Torture, Unfair Trials, Misuse of Terrorism Law

(Berlin) – Russian military courts handed down guilty verdicts on February 5 and 10, 2020 in three separate, deeply flawed terrorism cases in which the defendants alleged incommunicado detention, torture, and other ill-treatment to…
Pictured (L) members of a left-wing group Set (Network) in court in Penza, Russia on Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, when the court convicted seven members on terrorism charges, sentencing them to prison terms ranging from six to 18 years. (R) Eduard Nizamov.
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Arrests, Prison, Harassment for Peaceful Religious Practice

(Moscow) – Law enforcement authorities across Russia have dramatically escalated the nationwide persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the past 12 months, Human Rights Watch said today. One year after President Vladimir Putin said that…
Special Rapid Response Unit raid a Jehovah’s Witness home in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast.
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Camp Raid the Latest in Deepening Crackdown on Members

Last week, police near Norilsk, in northern Russia, raided a campsite where more than 50 Jehovah’s Witness followers had gathered to pray. It was the latest example of an escalating crackdown on Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are targeted…
A woman holds a bible during a service
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Raids, Arbitrary Arrests, Torture of Activists

(Berlin) – Russian authorities have brought unfounded terrorism charges against 24 Crimean Tatars, 20 of whom were arrested during heavily armed raids on their homes in the spring of this year, Human Rights Watch said today. Security…
Crimean Tatar activists protest politically motivated arrests of terrorism charges in Moscow’s Red Square on July 10, 2019.
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Prosecution Part of Nationwide Crackdown on Religious Group

(Moscow) – A Russian court on February 6, 2019 convicted Dennis Christensen, a Jehovah’s Witness adherent and Danish citizen, on extremism charges for practicing his faith, Human Rights Watch said today. The court sentenced Christensen…
Dennis Christensen after the hearing at the Zheleznodorzhy District Court in Oryol, January 28, 2019
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Use September 7 Meeting to Address Arbitrary Detentions, Disappearances, Abductions

(Beirut) – The Astana working group on detentions and abductions in the Syrian conflict should take immediate steps to address the Syrian government’s arbitrary detentions, torture of detainees, and enforced disappearances, 11 human…
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lock hands during a group photo in Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, April 4, 2018. © 2018 Tolga Bozoglu/Pool Photo via AP
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Religious Persecution, Other Abuses

(Moscow) – Law enforcement authorities across Russia have carried out a sweeping campaign against Jehovah’s Witnesses in recent months, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities have carried out dozens of home searches,…
Since 2007, dozens of pieces of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ literature have been banned and placed on the federal registry of banned extremist materials. Picture here, stacks of booklets distributed by a local leader of a Jehovah's Witnesses congregation in the
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Unjust Prosecution Part of Broader Persecution of Religious Group

(Moscow) – Russian authorities should drop the charges against a Jehovah’s Witness adherent for practicing his faith and release him immediately, Human Rights Watch said today. On April 3, 2018, a criminal court in Orel…
Dennis Christensen
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Arbitrary Detentions; Separatism, Terrorism Charges

(Berlin) – Russian authorities in Crimea have intensified persecution of Crimean Tatars, under various pretexts and with the apparent goal of completely silencing dissent on the peninsula, Human Rights Watch said today. Crimean Tatars are a Muslim…
Law enforcement officials during a search in Bakhchysarai, Crimea on January 26, 2017
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Withdraw Lawsuit, Protect Religious Freedom

(Moscow) – Russia’s Supreme Court ruled on April 20, 2017 that the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization should be closed down and no longer allowed to operate legally in Russia, Human Rights Watch said today. The ruling, which affects more than 100,000…
Yaroslav Sivulsky, member of the Managerial center of the JW, gives interview after the court hearing in the Supreme Court on April 7, 2017, Moscow.
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Sweeping Repression Against Critics

(Moscow) – Local authorities are trying to silence even the mildest critics in advance of the September 18, 2016 election for the head, or governor, of Chechnya, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The 56-page report, “‘Like…
Men carrying a banner reading “Putin and Kadyrov are Russia’s foundation”. Grozny, Chechnya, January 2016.
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In today’s Russia, denying God’s existence can carry big risks. Just ask Viktor Krasnov, currently on trial in Stavropol for “offending religious feelings of believers,” and facing a possible year in prison. Krasnov is an avid…
A man walks under an umbrella during a snowfall, with St. Basil's Cathedral seen in the background, in Red Square in central Moscow March 31, 2014.
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Crackdown in Dagestan Targets Muslim Group

(Moscow) – The government’s response to a decade-long insurgency in Dagestan, a southern Russian republic, has been marked by serious human rights violations, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Insurgents…
Dagestan_Salafis_June2015_FR
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Statement on Meeting in Moscow

(Moscow) – After meeting with Edward Snowden on July 12, 2013, Human Rights Watch reiterated its call for his asylum claims to receive fair treatment. Tanya Lokshina, Russia program director at Human Rights Watch, met with the former United States…