March 3, 1999
Witnesses testify to repression under Soviet regime
Today, two defense witnesses testified to years of oppression under the Soviet system, two described their strong family ties, and one explained his work in sharing information on alternatives to blood transfusions.
S. V. Levitsky, who has been one of Jehovah’s Witnesses since 1953, suffered arrests, imprisonment, and deportation to Soviet labor camps. He was sentenced to more than 15 years and served 6 of those years.
Yaroslav Sivulsky told the court that his parents were sentenced to Siberian labor camps because they were Jehovah’s Witnesses. His mother spent four years there and his father, seven. His sister was expelled from university because she was a Witness. Sivulsky spent nearly two years in a camp for his conscientious objection to military service.
Presently, Sivulsky volunteers at the Witnesses’ administrative center in Solnechnoye. He testified that he, as a representative of Jehovah’s Witnesses, has tried to meet with the Committee for the Rescue of Youth in St. Petersburg to discuss the Committee’s concerns, but their response was to litigate.
A non-Witness parent testified about her close ties with her Witness son. Moscow resident Mrs. Zubareva and her husband are atheists, she said. Her oldest son is 22 years old and is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He is a graduate of the Institute of Foreign Relations. Mrs. Zubareva spoke of the strong relationship she and her husband have maintained with their son. When her son first showed an interest in the Bible, she investigated the Witnesses’ teachings, and she and her husband agreed that he could associate with them. Zubareva said that her son’s study of the Bible with the Witnesses has had a positive effect on him. He reads more and has improved his studies. He also shows greater respect to his parents. She knows many Jehovah’s Witnesses and finds their association pleasant. The prosecutor tried to argue that her son’s preaching interfered with his university studies. Mrs. Zubareva was quick to show the court her son’s excellent marks.
D. D. Protsenko has been one of Jehovah’s Witnesses since 1993 and is also a medical doctor. Dr. Protesenko works with the medical information service on alternatives to blood transfusion that is sponsored by Jehovah’s Witnesses. He explained the purpose of this service, which is to promote understanding of medical alternatives to blood transfusions and to encourage cooperation between physicians and their Witness patients. He also gave examples of his work. Protsenko described for the court the medical treatments that are available as alternatives to blood transfusions.
A. A. Losev responded to the testimony his father presented on February 25. His father is active in the work of the anti-cult committee. Losev explained that the family has had conflicts with his father long before he became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and that although, his father has good qualities, he is not tolerant of others. His father had told the court, that “ what is happening today with young people being destroyed by these sects is worse than Afghanistan and worse than Chechnya.” Losev said his father’s harsh treatment of his sister, who is not one of Jehovah’s Witness, has caused difficulty in the family as well.
The trial resumes tomorrow at 2:15 p.m.