- The Washington Times - Friday, December 13, 2019

A Russian court has convicted a Jehovah’s Witness to six years in prison for engaging in so-called “extremist activity” — one of the harshest penalties imposed since a ban on the faith in 2017.

Vladimir Alushkin was immediately handcuffed and taken into detention in the city of Penza, about 400 miles southeast of Moscow, according to a news briefing from the World Headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in New York City. Five other Jehovah’s Witnesses, including Mr. Alushkin’s wife, were given probation that could become a two-year prison sentence if violated.

“Our hearts go out to the six Jehovah’s Witnesses convicted today,” the group’s spokesman, Jarrod Lopes, said in a statement. “I don’t think anyone is surprised, though, that Russia has convicted more Jehovah’s Witnesses — bringing the total to 18 this year — for their peaceful Christian worship.”

Mr. Lopes characterized the current Russian crackdown on Jehovah’s Witnesses to the Soviet era. Mr. Alushkin was arrested two summers ago by masked police officers with assault rifles who seized a Bible, other literature and cell phones. The United Nations has denounced the country’s arbitrary detainment of Jehovah’s Witnesses.


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