SEPTEMBER 23, 2019
On Thursday, September 19, 2019, six brothers from the Russian city of Saratov were convicted and sentenced to prison simply for being Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Judge Dmitry Larin of the Leninsky District Court of Saratov sentenced Brother Konstantin Bazhenov and Brother Aleksey Budenchuk to three years and six months in prison; Brother Feliks Makhammadiyev to three years; Brother Roman Gridasov, Brother Gennadiy German, and Brother Aleksey Miretskiy to two years. Additionally, the ruling states that after serving their time in prison, all of the brothers will be banned from holding leadership positions in public organizations for a period of five years. The defense intends to appeal the verdict.
Criminal charges were first initiated against the six brothers after Russian authorities raided seven homes of Witnesses in Saratov on June 12, 2018. All of the brothers have families, but Brother Budenchuk has two children who are still in school. Brother Budenchuk, along with Brother Bazhenov and Brother Makhammadiyev, spent almost a year in pretrial detention after their arrest.
In their final words to the court, the six brothers quoted several inspiring verses from the Bible and said that they did not harbor animosity toward the prosecution.
Russia has now convicted and sentenced seven men to prison. Over 250 brothers and sisters in Russia are facing criminal charges, with 41 in detention (pretrial or prison) and 23 under house arrest.
We pray for all of our faithful and courageous brothers and sisters in Russia that they ‘may be strengthened with all power according to [Jehovah’s] glorious might so that [they] may endure fully with patience and joy.’—Colossians 1:11.