The court of Abakan, capital of the Russian republic of Khakassia, declared Valentina Baranovskaya guilty of “participation in a prohibited organization”.
Since 2017, a law has been in force that prohibits citizens of Russia from being Jehovah’s Witnesses because they are considered by the Ministry of Justice as a “Extremist movement”, the same term that can be used to refer to a terrorist organization, a sect, or a group outside the law.
The 69-year-old woman was sentenced to spend the next two years behind bars, the first case of an elderly person.
But she was not the only one affected. His son was also sent to jail for his religious beliefs, but he will have to spend six years in prison.
Commissioner @USCIRF_Bauer: “Today Valentina Baranovskaya, an elderly woman in poor health, became the first female #JehovahsWitness sentenced to prison in #Russia. This marks a new low in Russia’s brutal campaign against religious freedom.” https://t.co/6nM3csltDW
— USCIRF (@USCIRF) February 24, 2021
For the representatives of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the condemnation of the woman is an “unprecedented sentence of cruelty”, although it is added to the 71 similar cases in Russia. Of those, nine members of this religion are serving prison terms.
In the country that hosted the 2018 World Cup and developed the Sputnik vaccine there are a greater presence of believers from the Orthodox Church, which is linked to the government of President Vladimir Putin. The representatives of this religion in that country assure that Jehovah’s Witnesses are a dangerous foreign sect that erodes state institutions and traditional values, accusations that they reject.
With information from AFP