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Asia2 minutes for believers of all faiths in prison in Russia

2 minutes for believers of all faiths in prison in Russia

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Willy Fautre
Willy Fautrehttps://www.hrwf.eu
Willy Fautré, former chargé de mission at the Cabinet of the Belgian Ministry of Education and at the Belgian Parliament. He is the director of Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF), an NGO based in Brussels that he founded in December 1988. His organization defends human rights in general with a special focus on ethnic and religious minorities, freedom of expression, women’s rights and LGBT people. HRWF is independent from any political movement and any religion. Fautré has carried out fact-finding missions on human rights in more than 25 countries, including in perilous regions such as in Iraq, in Sandinist Nicaragua or in Maoist held territories of Nepal. He is a lecturer in universities in the field of human rights. He has published many articles in university journals about relations between state and religions. He is a member of the Press Club in Brussels. He is a human rights advocate at the UN, the European Parliament and the OSCE.

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At the end of July, the Court of Cassation upheld the 2 years and 6 months in prison sentence against Aleksandr Nikolaev.

The court had found him guilty of participating in the activities of an extremist organization, the religious organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

In fact, he was just reading the Bible and discussing religious issues in private with relatives and friends. The investigation considered it “a crime against the foundations of the constitutional order and the security of the state”.

No evidence was presented in court that the convict had committed any unlawful acts or that his behaviour was of a socially dangerous nature.

More than 140 Jehovah’s Witnesses are now behind bars in Russia for practising their faith in private. For more information about religious freedom in Russia, see our website HRWF.EU

In the Murmansk Region, a military court jailed Dmitry Vasilets for 2 years and 2 months for refusing to fight in Ukraine on grounds of his Buddhist faith.

In September 2022, Pentecostal Andrey Kapatsyna was called up to fight in Ukraine.

On two occasions, he told the commanders that in accordance with his religious beliefs, he could not take up arms and use them against other people.

On 29 June of this year, a court in Vladivostok sentenced him to 2 years and 10 months imprisonment under new legislation punishing the non-fulfilment of orders in a period of combat operations.

Five Protestants are currently imprisoned in Russia for practising their faith.

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