During the month of October 2018, local and federal police raided more than 30 homes throughout western Russia. Six brothers and two sisters were arrested and sentenced to pretrial detention for so-called extremist activity. Consequently, there are now 25 brothers and sisters unjustly imprisoned, and 18 others are under house arrest.
October 7, Sychyovka, Smolensk Region—Local police and masked special forces searched four homes and arrested two sisters, 43-year-old Nataliya Sorokina and 41-year-old Mariya Troshina. Two days after their arrest, the Leninsky District Court sentenced our sisters to pretrial detention through November 19, 2018. Then, on November 16, 2018, the Leninsky District Court extended the sisters’ pretrial detention for an additional three months, that is, until February 19, 2019.
October 9, Kirov, Kirov Region—At least 19 homes were raided. Five congregation elders were arrested and later sentenced to pretrial detention. Four of the brothers (Maksim Khalturin, Vladimir Korobeynikov, Andrey Suvorkov, and Evgeniy Suvorkov) are Russian nationals, and one, Andrzej Oniszczuk, is a Polish citizen. Brother Oniszczuk is the second foreigner, after Dennis Christensen from Denmark, to be unjustly detained in Russia for his Christian beliefs.
October 18, Dyurtyuli, Republic of Bashkortostan—Police raided at least 11 homes and seized money, bank cards, photographs, personal letters, computers, SIM cards, and cell phones. Anton Lemeshev, an elder, was arrested and then sentenced to pretrial detention for two months. On October 31, 2018, he was released from prison and transferred to house arrest, where he remains at present.
Despite the ongoing threat of raids and unlawful seizure of their belongings, local brothers and sisters continue to pray for those imprisoned and to provide them and their families with practical help when possible. Until the situation is resolved, our international brotherhood will supplicate Jehovah in behalf of all his faithful servants in Russia, even mentioning some by name.—Ephesians 6:18.