Russian officers reportedly tortured, shocked, and choked a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Jehovah’s Witnesses spokesman Jarrod Lopes announced Thursday evening that Russian officers tortured Jehovah’s Witness Vadim Kutsenko on the evening of Feb. 10. Russian officers reportedly beat, choked, and shocked Kutseneko and demanded that he give information about his fellow Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“We are greatly disturbed by the news that our friend and brother Vadim was tortured for his faith,” Lopes said in a statement. “Almost a year to the day, seven Jehovah’s Witnesses in Surgut were similarly tortured by Russian authorities, simply for their peaceful Christian worship.”
“It’s difficult to comprehend that such barbarism persists in a modern country with a constitution that promises freedom of religion,” Lopes added, noting that Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Human Rights Council in December 2018 that calling Jehovah’s Witnesses extremists is “complete nonsense.”
“Before any more Jehovah’s Witnesses are tortured and imprisoned, we hope Russian authorities quickly get on the same page as their President,” Lopes said. (RELATED: Russia Convicts 12th Jehovah’s Witness This Year For ‘Extremist Activities’)
Officers from the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation searched almost 40 homes in the Russian city of Chita Feb. 10, including Kutsenko’s home, according to Lopes. The officers reportedly arrested Kutsenko around 11 p.m. at his mother-in-law’s home, handcuffed him, covered his head, and took him to a nearby forest where they tortured him.
He reportedly refused to cooperate, according to a press release. The officers then took him to the investigator’s office to be questioned further. He is currently under house arrest and awaits court hearings that will resume Feb. 15.
“He is currently in custody — in pain and worried about his family, because he was threatened that something could happen to his wife,” his lawyer Artur Ganin told the Associated Press.
Lopes notes that as of Feb. 11, there are 307 Jehovah’s Witnesses under investigation and facing criminal charges, 38 Jehovah’s Witnesses in prison, 27 under house arrest, and 26 already convicted.
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