En Ru Ua

05.07.2017

People in Crimea are being persecuted by court for their religious beliefs

Crimean Human Rights Group (CHRG) records facts of harassment and persecution of believers in the occupied by the Russian Federation Crimea

On the Crimean website of de facto authorities “Justice of the Peace of the Republic of Crimea” there is information about 6 decisions on administrative cases in 2017 for religious activities in Crimea under Part 3 of Article 5.26 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation (Implementation of activities by a religious organization without specifying its official full name) and Part 4 of Article 5.26 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation (Implementation of Missionary Activities with Violation of Legislation Requirements). Violation of these articles entails the imposition of fines in the amount of 30,000 to 50,000 rubles and from 5,000 to 50,000 for individuals, respectively.

On 9 February, 2017, the “Justice of the District of Bakhchisarai” Artem Cherkashin appointed an administrative fine to a resident of Crimea, Muslim Arsen Ganiev under Part 4 of Article 5.26 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation for distribution of calendars, leaflets about the upcoming event “Maulid” (Birthday of the Prophet Muhammad) and the book “Mevlyud ayy Hayyrli olsun”. The “Judge” Cherkashin considered this as missionary activity in the wrong place. (Resolution)

On 18 February, Yelena Bekenstein, a justice of the peace of Yalta, fined the head of the local religious organization, the Church of Seventh-day Adventists of the City of Yalta, Grigory Stasyuk for 30,000 rubles for the lack of a sign on the building where church sermons are being conducted (part 3, article 5.26 of the Code of Administrative Offenses RF). (Resolution)

On 11 May, 2017, the “Judge of peace of the District of Bakhchisarai” Elena Esina decided to fine the pastor of the local religious organization “Christian Evangelical Church of Revival” Nikolay Blyshchik for the absence of a signboard on the premises where sermons are conducted (part 3, article 5.26 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation ). (Resolution)

In June 2017, the “judge of peace the Kerch judicial district” Khazret Cheech fined Martyushov S.V. and Kudin E.A. for 5 000 rubles each for participation in the worship of the local branch of “Jehovah’s Witnesses” (Part 5, Article 5.26 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation). (Resolution)

On 19 June, 2017, the “judge of peace of the Yalta Judicial District” Petr Kireev decided to fine Sazonov D.G. for 5 000 rubles according to the part 4 of Article 5.26 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation. (Resolution)

The “judge” accused Sazonov of having read the Bible, singing songs and praying, without the authority of the organization “Jehovah’s Witnesses”, while attending divine services. The “judge” considered this as missionary activity.

“Persecution for religious activities is a violation of Article 9 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights, according to which everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right also includes the freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs individually or in community with others, publicly or privately. Limitations of this right are possible only in the interests of national security and public order. However, in all these cases, there is no such threat”, – explains the expert of the Crimean Human Rights Group Alexander Sedov

“In addition, the restriction by the occupation authorities of the possibility of conducting religious rites and the prosecution of the residents of the occupied territory for these activities violates Article 27 of the Geneva Convention (IV) on the protection of civilians in time of war, “said the human rights activist.

Recall that on 27 June, 2017 in Dzhankoy, Kremlin-controlled “world judge” Alkhaz Tulparov held a hearing on the case of Vitaly Arsenyuk, accused of illegal missionary activity under part 4 of Article 5.26 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation. Arsenyuk headed the local Committee of “Jehovah’s Witnesses” before the ban of this organization in Russia. The same night, after the court session, Arsenyuk died of a massive heart attack.

All of the above prosecutions are carried out within the framework of the “Yarovoy package” adopted in July 2016 – a package of changes that increase the responsibility for “extremist” and “terrorist” activities. Article 5.26 The Administrative Code is supplemented with Parts 3 and 4 in the “Yarovoy package”.

On 20 April, 2017, the Russian Supreme Court found the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization as an extremist and banned the its activities, which is also a violation of freedom of conscience and religion