MOSCOW, October 8 (RAPSI) – A court in Russia’s Ulyanovsk passed suspended sentence on six members of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a religious organization banned in Russia, the press service of the regional Prosecutor Office reports Thursday.
The defendands received suspended terms varying from 2 years and 2 months to 3.5 years. They were found guilty of participating in a religious community prohibited in Russia by court as extremist.
Prosecutors earlier demanded prison terms ranging from 3 to 7 years.
Investigators claimed that a resident of Ulyanovsk had organized holding of meetings. During these meetings he has cited religious texts included in the federal list of extremist materials. Moreover, the man collected money under the guise of donation; other defendants took part in the meetings and propagated the Jehovah’s Witnesses doctrine.
In April 2017, the Supreme Court of Russia ordered liquidation of the Jehovah's Witnesses managing organization and all its 395 local branches. In August, the Administrative Centre of Jehovah's Witnesses was added to the list of banned extremist organizations.
Jehovah’s Witnesses religious organization has had many legal problems in Russia. Since 2009, 95 materials distributed by the organization in the country have been declared extremist and 8 Jehovah's Witnesses’ branches have been liquidated, according to the Justice Ministry.
Jehovah's Witnesses is an international religious organization based in Brooklyn, New York. Since 2004 several branches and chapters of the organization were banned and shut down in various regions of Russia.