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RUSSIA: Danish Jehovah’s Witness Sentenced To Six Years

By Published February 08, 2019

A diplomatic row between Russia and Denmark may be brewing after the Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen said he was "deeply concerned" about the sentencing of its national on extremism charge,

calling on Russia "to respect freedom of religion" while pledging the government’s readiness to fund the appeal of the sentencing.

 

Dennis Christensen, a Danish devotee of the Jehovah's Witness was sentenced to six years "organizing the activity of an extremist organization."

The EU’s foreign-policy chief, Federica Mogherini also called on Russia to release Christensen "immediately and unconditionally," saying that "no one should be imprisoned for peaceful acts of worship in the expression of their religious beliefs."

In a statement issued shortly after the ruling, the Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia said Christensen's lawyers will appeal the decision while he remains in detention in Facility No. 1 in the Oryol region, where he already has been held for 622 days.
"An innocent man who did not commit any real crime was convicted," Yaroslav Sivulsky, a representative of the European Association of Jehovah's Witnesses, said in the statement.

"It is sad that reading the Bible, preaching and living a moral way of life is again a criminal offense in Russia," Sivulsky said.

The Jehovah's Witnesses organization has long been viewed with suspicion by some governments for its members' positions on military service, voting, and government authority in general.

Christensen was arrested in Oryol in May 2017, a month after Russia's Supreme Court ruled that the religious group should be closed down and no longer allowed to operate in the country, he is the first Jehovah’s Witness to be detained for extremism in Russia.

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