Everyone shall be guaranteed the freedom of conscience, the freedom of religion, including the right to profess individually or together with other any religion or to profess no religion at all, to freely choose, possess and disseminate religious and other views and act according to them.
—Constitution of the Russian Federation, Chapter 2, Article 28
Police Search Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Halls in Smolensk and Sochi, Disrupting Services in Both Cases
December 19, 2016
On December 17 in Sochi, police officers and Cossacks came to the Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall, blocked all the doors, drove all the worshippers from the auditorium except two people, and conducted a search. During the search, a publication included in the Federal List of Extremist Literature was confiscated.
According to the worshippers, one of the official witnesses accompanying the police helped them knock down the gate.
On December 18 in Smolensk, police and prosecutors, accompanied by armed riot police, arrived at the Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall, where about sixty people were assembled. A search was also conducted. During the search, an extremist pamphlet was discovered in the toilet.
According to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the extremist literature was planted by those conducting the searches in both cases. In both cases, the worship services were disrupted.
In addition, on December 18, a search was carried out in a private home in Smolensk where Jehovah’s Witnesses live. According to them, the police officers were rude and used force against women. When one of the Jehovah’s Witnesses felt sick, the law enforcement officers kept them from summoning medics for a long time.
Translated by the Russian Reader