Politics

Russia Convicts 12th Jehovah’s Witness This Year For ‘Extremist Activities’

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Mary Margaret Olohan Social Issues Reporter
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A Russian court convicted the 12th Jehovah’s Witness this year of “extremist activities” Thursday.

The Ordzhonikidzevskiy District Court of Perm, Russia, convicted civil engineer Aleksey Metsger of “extremist activities,” the Washington Times reported. The 44-year-old Jehovah’s Witness was also fined 350,000 rubles, Communications Officer and Spokesman Jarrod Lopes told the Daily Caller News Foundation, a sum that amounts to about $5,600.

Lopes said Metsger’s conviction comes as no surprise since it follows “increasing raids, detentions, and arrests of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia.” (RELATED: Russia Sends Another Jehovah’s Witness To Prison For ‘Organizing Extremist Activity’)

“He is the 12thJehovah’s Witness to be convicted this year simply for participating in peaceful Christian worship,” Lopes told the DCNF. “Numerous world leaders, international bodies, and human rights specialists have condemned Russia’s egregious disregard for international law, as well as its own constitution, in persecuting Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

The Russian Supreme Court passed a 2017 law declaring Jehovah’s Witnesses an extremist organization, Reuters reported. A Justice Ministry spokeswoman said after the Supreme Court ruled against Jehovah’s Witnesses that members of the organization “pose a threat to the rights of the citizens, public order and public security.”

Members of the media and supporters of Dennis Christensen gather outside a courthouse after the verdict announcement in his trial in the town of Oryol on February 6, 2019. - A Russian court on February 6, 2019 sentenced a Danish Jehovah's Witness to six years in prison for "extremism", in the first conviction of its kind since a 2017 law that outlawed the religious group. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

A Russian court on February 6, 2019 sentenced a Danish Jehovah’s Witness to six years in prison for “extremism”, in the first conviction of its kind since a 2017 law that outlawed the religious group. (MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in December 2018 that it is “complete nonsense” that Jehovah’s Witnesses are classified as members of a terrorist organization, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

“Jehovah’s Witnesses are Christians, too. I don’t quite understand why they are persecuted,” Putin said. “So this should be looked into. This must be done.”

Despite Putin’s words, Jehovah’s Witnesses continue to endure persecution in Russia. (RELATED: Putin Advisers Push To End Prosecution Of Jehovah’s Witnesses In Russia)

As of Nov. 14, there are 285 Jehovah’s Witnesses facing criminal charges in Russia, Lopes told the DCNF, including 220 men and 65 women.  The Russian government has raided 722 homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses since Russia’s condemnation of the religious organization, Lopes said. He explained that 46 Jehovah’s Witnesses are being held in detention or prison, 23 are under house arrest, and 12 men have been convicted.

Lopes also said that Jehovah’s Witnesses’ global community is inspired by their fellow believers “who have resolutely held on to their faith in the face of this systematic attack on religious freedom.”

Metsger’s conviction follows the Nov. 5 sentencing of 49-year-old SergeyKlimov, who served as head of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Tomsk, Siberia.

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