11/25/2020, 17.11
RUSSIA
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Russian police again raid homes of Jehovah's Witnesses

The group is banned in Russia. The Investigative Committee (SK) posted a video on YouTube showing its agents in balaclavas breaking into a flat and seizing piles of foreign currency. Russian Jehovah's Witnesses claim they were tortured and are calling for an investigation into their treatment.

Moscow (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (SledKom) raided the homes of Jehovah's Witnesses across the country, arresting a number of them as part of a criminal investigation against this group, which is illegal since Russia’s Supreme Court banned it in 2017 as “extremist”.

Sledkom, which operates like the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), posted a video on YouTube showing its agents in balaclavas breaking into a flat and seizing piles of foreign currency.

According to the agency, "conspiratorial meetings" have been held at a Moscow flat since June 2019 where they "studied religious literature . . . propagandising Jehovah's Witnesses teaching” and “indoctrinated and recruited new members among the capital's residents and in other regions”.

For their part, Russian Jehovah's Witnesses claim that they were tortured and want an investigation into their allegations. Scores of them have been persecuted for practising their faith.

In July the British government voiced concern over Russia's crackdown on Jehovah's Witnesses, saying that the Russian state had "criminalised the peaceful worship of 175,000 Russian citizens and contravened the right to religious freedom that is enshrined in the Russian constitution”.

In December 2018 Russian President Vladimir Putin said he could not understand why followers of the religion were being persecuted. However, the Russian Orthodox Church welcomed the ban in 2017.

A senior Orthodox cleric, Metropolitan Hilarion, called the Jehovah's Witnesses a "totalitarian sect" on Russian TV.

In his view, "It's hard to deny that these cultists will remain and continue their activity . . . but at least they'll stop openly claiming to be a Christian faith”.

He went to say that “in the market place of existing Christian confessions, this product will no longer be on display.” And this is “all for the best. It'll save families, people's lives".

The Jehovah's Witnesses were founded in the United States in the late 19th Century, and follow a very literal reading of the Bible, rejecting the interpretations of many Christian scholars and the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.

They believe that a final battle between good and evil will take place soon. They are also pacifists, carry out door-to-door preaching, and oppose blood transfusions.

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