Special Rapid Deployment Force Raids Jehovah’s Witness Gathering in Norilsk

tomsk raidPolice raiding Jehovah’s Witnesses in Tomsk in 2018. Photo courtesy of the website Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia

Special Forces Raid Recreational Compound in Norilsk Where More Than 50 Jehovah’s Witnesses Were Gathered, Criminal Charges Filed
OVD Info
October 22, 2019

On October 20, the Special Rapid Deployment Force (SOBR) raided a recreational compound in Norilsk where more than fifty Jehovah’s Witnesses had gathered, later carrying out searches in some of their homes, according to a report posted the next day on the religious organization’s website. A source in law enforcement confirmed that the raid had happened, according to local news website Tayga.info.

“Masked commandos broke into the building and ordered everyone who was there to surrender their telephones and tablets,” said the report on the Jehovah’s Witness website. Some of the people were then taken away in minivans to be interrogated or have their homes searched. Witnesses noticed the Norilsk Nickel logo on some of the vans.

There is information about searches in five homes. They lasted around five hours. Police confiscated Bibles, computers, tablets, and telephones from the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The interrogations took place at the local headquarters of the Russian Investigative Committee. The people interrogated were asked questions from a questionnaire consisting of twenty-five questions. In particular, they were asked about their affiliation with the “forbidden” faith.

According to Tayga.info’s source, criminal charges have been filed against the leader of the local Jehovah’s Witness community.

On April 20, 2017, the Russian Supreme Court declared the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia an “extremist” organization, abolishing it and banning it from operating in Russia. In August of the same year, all local Jehovah’s Witness organizations in Russia were banned, setting off a subsequent wave of criminal cases against members of the church.

In February 2019, a court handed down the first sentence against a Jehovah’s Witness involving a long term of imprisonment: Danish national Dennis Christensen was sentenced to six years in prison. He has filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which has promised to review it.

Translated by the Russian Reader

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Riot Cops Raid Punk Rock Concert in Barnaul: “Freaks, Not Patriots”

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Riot Cops Raid Punk Rock Concert in Barnaul
OVD Info
April 28, 2018

Riot cops (OMON) raided a punk rock concert in Barnaul and made everyone in attendance lie face down on the floor, Angelina, who was at the concert, told OVD Info.

According to Angelina, all the concertgoers were searched. The young men were searched especially carefully. The young women were asked whether they were carrying weapons and banned substances. The riot cops gave every concertgoer a piece of paper marked with a number and forced them to say their name and address on camera while holding up their number.

Angelina added the riot cops were very rough with everyone.

The concertgoers were asked whether they were members of subcultures: punks, skinheads or some other group. The riot cops also said the concertgoers were all “freaks, not patriots.”

“There were at least six unidentified men who were telling the riot cops what to do. No one was able to figure out who they were. I remember one of them was named Oleg,” said Angelina.

The concert continued after the riot cops left. One juvenile male was taken to a police station where he signed a statement he had not used any banned substances, after which he was released.

Translation and photo by the Russian Reader