Russian jailing of Jehovah’s Witness raises persecution fears by Andrew Brown for Guardian
GNN Note – What’s interesting is this is happening in Russia, one of the more Christian based nations in the world. What is actually happening with this person and why was he arrested? Personally, I’m not buying this story at all.
Danish builder arrested at prayer meeting imprisoned for organising ‘extremist group’
A Russian court has found a Danish Jehovah’s Witness guilty of organising a banned extremist group and jailed him for six years in a case raising fears of a return to Soviet-era religious persecution.
Armed police detained Dennis Christensen, a 46-year-old builder, in May 2017 at a prayer meeting in Oryol, about 200 miles (320km) south of Moscow following the banning of the local Jehovah’s Witnesses by a court a year earlier.
Russia’s supreme court later ruled the group was “extremist” and ordered it to disband nationwide. Christensen’s detention, Russia’s first extremism-related arrest of a Jehovah’s Witness, foreshadowed dozens more.
The court, in the city of Oryol, found Christensen guilty on Wednesday after a long trial, his lawyer, his wife and a representative for the Jehovah’s Witnesses told Reuters.
Christensen had pleaded innocent, saying he was exercising freedom of religion guaranteed in Russia’s constitution.
The Danish foreign minister, Anders Samuelsen, called on Moscow to respect religious freedom and criticised it for classifying Jehovah’s Witnesses on a par with terrorist groups.
The US-headquartered Jehovah’s Witnesses have been under pressure for years in Russia, where the dominant Orthodox church is championed by the president, Vladimir Putin. Orthodox scholars have cast them as a dangerous foreign sect that erodes state institutions and traditional values, allegations they reject.
With about 170,000 followers in Russia and 8 million worldwide, Jehovah’s Witnesses are a Christian denomination known for door-to-door preaching, close Bible study, and rejection of military service and blood transfusions.
They believe the end of the world as we know it is imminent, an event “the obedient” will survive to inhabit the kingdom of God they believe will follow.