An Estonian intelligence agency said Friday that a Russian state-run television station has been demonizing Estonia’s Jehovah’s Witnesses, expanding Russia’s harassment campaign against religious minorities.
Estonia’s Internal Security Service said the television station called Russia-1 portrayed Jehovah’s Witnesses in a “hostile and ridiculing” way as part of the Russian government’s efforts to harass minority religious groups, according to The Associated Press.
The agency said two reporters from the station used hidden cameras in Tallinn, the country’s capital, “to explain the reasons for outlawing the religious group, so its members are demonized.” (RELATED: Russia Jails Danish Jehovah’s Witness For ‘Extremist Activities’)
Two employees of state-owned Russian TV channel Russia-1, entering Estonia on French and Italian Schengen visas, used hidden cameras to gather material they then used to ridicule and demonise Jehovah’s Witnesses. https://t.co/xJdyrNxgfA
— JW Governing Body (@jwgoverningbody) April 12, 2019
European authorities banned reporters in question, Yelena Yerofejeva and Pavel Kostrikov, from Europe’s Schengen passport-free zone for five years over their “religious discrimination,” according to the agency.
The Russian government outlawed the Jehovah’s Witnesses as an extremist group in 2017 and later banned their bible as extremist literature. Russia has also targeted other religious groups, like Hindus, in a similar manner in coordination with leaders from the Russian Orthodox Church and an organization called FECRIS.
The Estonian intelligence agency said such actions on the part of the Russian government are par for the course, as “part of the Kremlin’s arsenal of influence is the harassment of various social groups.”
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