- The Washington Times - Friday, February 14, 2020

Russian officers applied electric shocks to a captive Jehovah’s Witness this week, a spokesman for the World Headquarters of Jehovah’s Witness in New York said.

Russian prison officers in the far southeastern city of Chita sought information from Vadim Kutsenko on fellow believers, hoping to intercept more Jehovah’s Witnesses in what has been a massive and internationally condemned crackdown across Russia over the last two years.

“We are greatly disturbed by the news that our friend and brother Vadim was tortured for his faith,” Jehovah’s Witnesses spokesman Jarrod Lopes said in a statement Thursday evening. “It’s difficult to comprehend that such barbarism persists in a modern country with a constitution that promises freedom of religion.”

The attack took place Monday, hours after nearly 40 houses in Chita were raided by Russia’s Federal Security Service.

Mr. Lopes said the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses convicted by Russian courts in the first month-and-a-half of 2020 already totals half of those convicted in 2019. In January, a Russian judge lamented that Jehovah’s Witnesses were “reluctant to comply with some basic laws of society,” according to a partial transcript.

In 2017, a Russian high court declared Jehovah’s Witnesses to be “extremists,” leading to the large number of arrests. President Vladimir Putin recently suggested he was unaware of the crackdown.

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