Raids Target Dozens of Jehovah’s Families in Single Russian Region

They face up to 10 years in prison on charges of organizing an extremist community for holding religious meetings, preaching and recruiting new members between mid-2018 and early 2020.

“Not wanting to be exposed by law enforcement, the suspects used measures of secrecy including storing electronic documentation and using video conferencing,” the regional Investigative Committee branch said.

Russian authorities said they’ve carried out more than 100 raids in the homes of dozens of Jehovah’s Witnesses in a region that borders Ukraine.

The joint searches by investigators, police and National Guard troops led to two criminal cases being opened against 10 worshippers aged between 24-56, investigators in the Voronezh region south of Moscow said in a statement Monday.

The investigators boasted of the 110 raids as the Jehovah’s Witness branch in Russia said its members have experienced more than 1,000 home invasions since the country outlawed the group as an “extremist” organization in April 2017.

“The security forces’ special operations are staggering in their cruelty,” the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia said Tuesday.

“Masked armed groups break down doors and windows, barging into the homes of harmless people. Not only men, but also young children, vulnerable women, the elderly and the disabled often fall victim to grueling and long searches.”

Russia Seeks Hefty Jail Terms For Activists in ‘New Greatness’ Case

A Russian prosecutor Tuesday requested that three young men receive between six and seven and a half years in prison for allegedly plotting to overthrow Vladimir Putin’s government, lawyers said.

In 2018, authorities detained 10 people accusing them of belonging to an anarchist cell that had plotted an uprising against the government in what has come to be known as the «New Greatness» case.

Critics say the case has been fabricated by the security service, and top rights group Memorial has pronounced the young men and women political prisoners.

On Tuesday, a prosecutor requested that Ruslan Kostylenkov, 27, be sentenced to seven and a half years in prison, Pyotr Karamzin, 34, to six and a half years and Vyacheslav Kryukov, 22, to six years.

All three have been under arrest since March 2018.

The prosecution requested that four other defendants including 20-year-old Anna Pavlikova should receive suspended sentences of between four and six and a half years, lawyer Maxim Pashkov, a member of the defence team, told AFP.

The New Greatness affair is one of several cases initiated by the FSB security service, the successor to the Soviet-era KGB.

In February, seven young anarchists and anti-fascists were sentenced to between six and 18 years in prison on terror and other charges.

Arrested in 2017 and 2018, most of the men said they had been tortured in custody with electrodes and beaten to extract a confession.

President Putin has been in power for 20 years and this month oversaw a controversial vote that allows him to stay in the Kremlin until 2036.

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