The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) condemned an attack on Russian Jehovah’s Witnesses, an incident perpetrated by government officials on the evening of Feb. 10.
USCIRF made the following statement on Tuesday from their Twitter account.
USCIRF condemns #Russia’s continued systematic persecution of #JehovahsWitnesses, as new claims of torture emerge following the gov’s latest raids against JWs in Siberia. Reports indicate that local police beat, suffocated, & tasered member Vadim Kutsenko. https://t.co/EIhZbibshD
— USCIRF (@USCIRF) February 18, 2020
Russian officers reportedly tortured a Witness named Vadim Kutsenko, of Chita, Russia, in an effort to force him to give up information about other Witnesses, according to the group’s official website.
On the morning of Feb. 10, Federal Security Services (FSB) officers searched almost 40 homes of known Witnesses in the Chita community, including Kutsenko’s residence. Later that night, Russian special police arrested him at the home of his mother-in-law. Kutsenko was dragged out of the home in handcuffs, blindfolded and tortured in a nearby wooded area for information which he did not give up. He was then held in jail until Feb. 15, when a judge ruled that there was not enough evidence to hold him, according to the Associated Press. (RELATED: Russia Convicts 12th Jehovah’s Witness This Year For ‘Extremist Activities’)
In 2017, the Supreme Court of Russia passed a verdict to uphold the claims from the nation’s Justice Ministry that the activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses violated the anti-extremism laws, according to a 2017 Human Rights Watch report.(RELATED: Jehovah’s Witness Reportedly Tortured, Shocked And Choked By Russian Officers)