APRIL 7, 2021
Born: 1986 (Khabarovsk Territory)
Biography: Works as a finishing carpenter. Married Alyona, his wife, in 2008. They enjoy camping and hiking
His parents instilled in him a love for the Creator when he was a youth. He especially appreciated the promise that humans and animals would one day live in peace. Baptized in 1997 at the age of 11
Brother Anatoliy Vilitkevich was added to Russia’s list of suspected terrorists on August 8, 2018. Along with Brother Dennis Christensen, Anatoliy was one of the first Witnesses imprisoned in a pretrial detention center after the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation effectively banned Jehovah’s Witnesses in April 2017.
Investigators installed hidden cameras in Anatoliy and Alyona’s apartment. The investigators recorded Anatoliy committing the “crime” of hosting Bible discussions with friends. He now stands accused of organizing activities of a so-called extremist organization.
When Anatoliy was taken away by the police, one of the officers spitefully told Alyona to “look for a new husband.” Anatoliy relates that during the interrogation he “experienced a huge amount of stress and emotional pressure. They told me that if I didn’t confess to the charges, my wife and those who were in our home for the meetings would suffer further consequences. Many times, I was told that my wife would end up in prison as well. At such moments, I prayed to Jehovah and asked that he give me peace of mind.”
Anatoliy has spent more than two months in pretrial detention, almost nine months under house arrest, and more than one and a half years under travel restrictions. While in prison, he wrote in a notebook examples from the Bible of those who also experienced persecution. He says: “I remembered that Jehovah didn’t spare them from difficulties, but at the same time, he didn’t abandon them. This strengthened me greatly and gave me strong assurance that Jehovah would act similarly in my behalf. The main thing was to remain loyal.” His wife’s letters also gave him needed encouragement. “In one of her first letters, Alyona sent me several photographs with our friends and loved ones,” Anatoliy relates. “Every evening I would look at these photographs and try to recall something interesting that happened between me and the individual in the photograph. This helped me to feel that they were right there next to me.”
The steadfast examples of Anatoliy and Alyona encourage us all. We rejoice to know that our brothers and sisters in Russia are thriving spiritually in the face of intense persecution. And we thank Jehovah for listening to our collective prayers in their behalf.—2 Corinthians 1:11.
^ par. 3 Advance notice of the verdict date is not always available.