Russian Jehovah's Witness sentenced to forced labour


Eastern Europe


Dmitry Dolzhikov and his wife. Photo Jehovah's Witnesses

Another Jehovah's Witness has been sentenced amidst a growing crackdown on the faith group in Russia.

The criminal case against Dmitry Dolzhikov was opened amidst the pandemic in May 2020. According to investigators, Mr. Dolzhikov participated in religious meetings and conversations with citizens and also showed and watched "educational videos."

Dmitry Dolzhikov. Photo Jehovah's Witnesses

These things are forbiddenfor a Jehovah's Witness since the Russian Supreme Court dissolved the Jehovah's Witness as a legal body and marked them as an extreme organisation.

Mr. Dolzhikov was sentenced on Friday to a three-year prison sentence. But the court later commuted the sentence to three years of forced labour.


For years, the Jehovah's Witnesses have faced repression in the Soviet Union and Russia. Thousands of Witnesses were exiled to Siberia by the Soviet Union, who forbade them from having Bibles or religious reading materials.

After the Soviet Union collapsed, the Russian authorities gave the Witnesses more breathing space, but resistance against the faithful grew quickly. Since 2017, there have been no acquittals in cases against Jehovah's Witnesses. Since the group was labelled "extremist", over 650 followers have been subjected to criminal prosecution.

In June 2022, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the decisions of the Russian authorities to liquidate the church, ban its activities and seize property violated the rights of believers.



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