Tthe Vilyuchinsk City Court convicted Mikhail Popov and his wife Yelena Popova. The couple was fined RUB 350 000 and RUB 300 000 respectively. There have now been 10 Jehovah’s Witnesses convicted for their faith in 2020, already more than half of the total convicted in 2019. Once convicted, these peaceful believers are burdened by the stigma of being an “extremist” thus making it virtually impossible to function in society (e.g. open/access a bank account or get/keep a job).
The couple was arrested on the 30th of July 2018, following mass home raids on Jehovah’s Witnesses in Kamchatka. They were charged with engaging in “extremist” activity.
Last month, Judge Alexander Ishchenko who has presided over the Popov hearings did not hide his opinion of the religious beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses, He was quoted saying that “Jehovah’s Witnesses are reluctant to comply with some basic laws of society. They refuse to defend their homeland…. Who, then, must defend the Homeland if most become Jehovah’s Witnesses? What will happen to the country then? Is this not a threat to our national security?”
(follow this link to read more from the court proceedings in Russian)
Currently, 307 Jehovah’s Witnesses under investigation and facing criminal charges in Russia and 38 in prison (29 pretrial; 9 sentenced) and 27 under house arrest.