11/08/2019, 10.08
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Sergej Klimov, Jehovah's Witness, sentenced to 6 years in Siberia lager

by Vladimir Rozanskij

The accusation is of having organized "extremist association activities".  Long interrogations with the police to make them confess that they are "involved in politics".  The activities of Jehovah's Witnesses are also prohibited in China, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia.  A young Orthodox, Aleksej Minjaylo, alone spoke in their favor: "The real Orthodox are against religious persecution;  every man has the right to decide for himself what he wants to believe".


Moscow (AsiaNews) - Sergej Klimov, head of the Tomsk community of Jehovah's Witnesses, was sentenced to 6 years in a labor camp on charges of "organizing extremist association activities".  Sergej and his wife Julia (see photo 2) were arrested last July for gathering a group of people on the street with songs, prayers and Bible readings.  Members of the community were supervised by members of the local section of the FSB, the ex-KGB, who carried out numerous searches in their homes.

For several years, Jehovah's Witnesses have been banned from any activity, after the decision by the Russian Supreme Court to classify them as "extremist organization".  Their version of the Bible is also forbidden, as its differences with the official Orthodox Bible and would confirm the extremist tendencies of the religious association.

Julia Klimova, released without charges, said she was "threatened and terrified" by the agents, who constantly repeated during 12-hour interrogations that "the question is political, you must understand that you are involved in politics ... if you don't tell us everything,  we will put you behgnd bars for a long time”.  The husband was convicted as the main organizer of the activities of the Jehovah's Witnesses in Tomsk, without specifying what exactly they were.  Julia herself recalled that "no one is forbidden to sing and pray", that is, to do that for which the husband ended up in the concentration camp.

Russia is not the only country in the world that prohibits the actions of Jehovah's Witnesses: the same is true in China, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia.  In theory, the Russian Constitution guarantees freedom of religious confession, but currently over two hundred members of Jehovah's Witnesses are under arrest or serving sentences for belonging to the community.

Klimov's lawyer, Artur Leont’ev, recalled an incident in Stalin's time, when a believer tried to defend himself by appealing to the Constitution, and a KGB collaborator replied: "Who do you thnk will drink that? The Constitution is for abroad, for you there is only the Penal Code ”.  In his opinion, the same situation is repeated today.

On 5 November a single human rights activist, Alexei Minjaylo, of Orthodox confession, already a participant in the Moscow protests of recent months, held an individual picket in support of Jehovah's Witnesses outside the entrance to the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in  Moscow, the main church of the patriarchate of Moscow (photo1), recalling the arrest of Sergej Klimov. 

In his words, "the real Orthodox are against religious persecution;  every man has the right to decide for himself what he wants to believe, "as he also wrote on his Facebook page.  On the poster he presented in front of the church, it was written: "Orthodox, let us defend together Jehovah's Witnesses.  Not too long ago we were also locked up for our faith ".

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