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Case of Two More ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’ from Crimea Sent to Occupation “Court”

The occupation “investigative committee” has completed the investigation in the case of two Jehovah’s Witnesses from Sevastopol and Yevpatoria, accused of managing the activities of an extremist organization (RF CC Article 282.2-1).

This may be referring to Mr.Viktor Kudinov and Mr.Serhiy Zhygalov, who became criminal case defendants at the end of August 2022.

The case of the followers was sent to the “court”.

“Investigators of the investigative unit of the Gagarinskiy District came to the conclusion that since May 2019, two followers of “Jehovah’s Witnesses”, the organization banned in Russia, had developed a criminal plan to continue its activities in the territory of Sevastopol, having self-appointed themselves the elders in the “Primorskoye” unit”, the occupation agency reported.

As reported by the CHRG, on August 24, 2022, homes of “Jehovah’s Witnesses” in Sevastopol were searched, followed with arresting Viktor Kudinov, aged 53, and Serhiy Zhygalov, aged 51.

The Crimean Human Rights Group informed that on April 20, 2017, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation declared “Jehovah’s Witnesses” an extremist organization and banned its activities in the territory of the Russian Federation. On August 16, 2017, the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation added Crimean units of “Jehovah’s Witnesses” to the list of extremist organizations. In 2018, criminalization of “Jehovah’s Witnesses” persecution started. In 2020, the first imprisonment sentences were passed on the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” followers.

The CHRG considers these lawsuits both as violation of human rights and the international humanitarian law. Persecution of “Jehovah’s Witnesses” violated Article 9 of European Convention on Human Rights (Freedom of thought, conscience and religion). Moreover, persecuting the persons who are not criminals in terms of Ukrainian law violates Article 7 of the Convention (No punishment without law) since according to the international humanitarian law, Russia has no right to enforce its criminal law in the occupied territory. The violations of the ECHR are under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights. On the other hand, enforcing the Russian criminal code in Crimea violates the Fourth Geneva Convention, that constitutes a war crime that falls under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

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