Crimean Tatar Resource Center

Searches of suspected Jehovah's Witnesses conducted in Crimea by Russian security forces

5 June 2019

On Tuesday, the 4th of June, Russian security forces searched at least 9 Crimean residents in Sevastopol suspected of their membership in the Jehovah's Witnesses religious organization prohibited in Russia. As a result, 52-year-old Viktor Stashevs’ky was detained. On the following day he was released from the detention center on a written undertaking not to leave the place of his habitual residence. This was reported by the official website of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia.

"The search sanctions were issued by the judge of the so-called Lenins’ky District Court of Sevastopol Anatolii Vasylenko. FSB officers alongside the special forces units conducted the searches. At least in one case, the security forces invaded the apartment in the absence of the rightful owners, breaking the door and critically damaging it. Searches continued up until late at night. PC hard drives, tablets and telephones were taken away from the owners. The next morning,  religious believers were called in for interrogation by the FSB investigator A. Chumakin, mainly responsible for his zealous persecution of the religious groups and individuals", - informs the report.

It is worth noting as well that criminal proceedings were initiated against the detainee Viktor Stashevs’ky under the article “Organizing the activities of an extremist organization” (part 1 of article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation).

“Shortly before the searches, the owners of one of the apartments grew suspicious of some kind of surveillance and even managed to change their wireless network access device. During the search, the task force unit was accompanied by a “technical expert” whose face was hidden behind the mask”, - the article notes.

We remind that in March 2019 in Yalta FSB officers were undertaking the searches of people suspected of their membership in the Jehovah's Witnesses religious organization prohibited in Russia. A criminal proceeding was initiated against the 34-year-old resident of Yalta.

In November 2018 in Dzhankoy, FSB officers conducted mass searches of people suspected of their membership in the Jehovah's Witnesses religious organization prohibited in Russia. The head of the local Jehovas’s Witnesses community Syvash, which was officially established in 2015 and wound up in 2017 following the ban of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, Serhii Filatov, was detained. At the moment he is on a written undertaking not to leave the place of his habitual residence as well.

On the 20th of April 2017, the Supreme Court of Russia ruled a decision recognizing the Jehovah's Witnesses Management Center as an extremist organization and thus prohibiting it in Russia.