March 20, 2002
Today the court heard from witnesses of the defense. One of them was Mr. Vladimir Pavlovich Sosnin, a resident of Moscow. In 1956, Mr. Sosnin became acquainted with the biblical teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses and became a baptised Witness that same year. In 1960, he was arrested and sentenced to serve in a prison camp in the Mordovian Republic. In 1992, he was officially rehabilitated by the State as a victim of political repression. He expressed his astonishment over the fact that his faith is once again being tried in court: “We have been officially rehabilitated, pronounced innocent, and have had our previously confiscated property fully restored to us—and now, we’re back in court all over again!”
Defence attorney Galina Krylova put the following question to Mr. Sosnin: “The public prosecutor has claimed that Jehovah’s Witnesses harbour feelings of hatred and enmity toward members of other religious faiths and atheists as well.” Mr. Sosnin responded: “I cannot agree with that statement in any way whatsoever. All of my relatives are members of the Russian Orthodox Church, yet we enjoy wonderful relationships with each other. While I was serving my sentence in the Mordovian Republic, I came into contact with people that held quite diverse religious views. However, this did not result in any animosity between us. Of course, we had religious discussions, but we never had enmity toward one another.”
The next session of the court is scheduled to convene at 2 p.m. on 21 March 2002.