For Immediate Release
February 3, 2011
Illegal surveillance “evidence” used to prosecute Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia—Investigators in two Russian cities filed charges against two of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Maksim Kalinin in Yoshkar-Ola and Pavel Stegachyov in Tambov. The men were accused of inciting hatred and enmity and were charged on January 17, 2011, with violating Article 282 (1) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.
In the town of Yoshkar-Ola police disrupted a peaceful religious meeting on August 10, 2010, that Mr. Kalinin was attending. Earlier in 2010, FSB officers received a warrant to enter into the home of Kalinin and covertly install equipment for phone tapping and video surveillance. They took an audio recording of a Bible talk that was allegedly presented by Mr. Kalinin along with the several publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses and sent them to the Kemerovo State University to be examined by linguistic experts. Previous linguistic opinions prepared by this university have been criticized as unscientific. On September 27, 2010, the Yoshkar-Ola City Court ruled that the personal searches made by police during the raid were unlawful. However, investigators still filed criminal charges against Kalinin despite the ruling.
Grigory Martynov, press secretary for Jehovah’s Witnesses stated: “A potential wave of unjust criminal cases against Jehovah’s Witnesses could soon be flooding the judicial system. Thus far, we know of 12 criminal cases initiated against Jehovah’s Witnesses in various Russian cities, including the case against Pavel Stegachyov, all based on the misapplication of an article in the Criminal Code concerning ‘extremism.’ The resources of law-enforcement agencies are being spent on harassing people who are internationally known as peaceful and law-abiding Christians.”
In Russia: Grigory Martynov, tel. +7 812 702 2691
In Belgium: The European Association of Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses, tel. +32 2 782 0015
In USA: J. R. Brown, tel. +1 718 560 5600