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FEBRUARY 21, 2019

Jehovah’s Witnesses Tortured in Surgut, Russia

Just nine days after Dennis Christensen was unjustly convicted in a Russian court, at least seven of Jehovah’s Witnesses were subjected to physical abuse—electric shocks, suffocation, and beatings—by Russian investigators in the western Siberian city of Surgut. While torturing our brothers, the officers demanded to know the locations of their meetings and the identity of other Witnesses.

The incident began when authorities in Surgut carried out raids in the early morning hours of February 15, 2019. After arresting some Witnesses and taking them to the Investigative Committee offices, the authorities began interrogating our brothers, who refused to disclose details about their fellow worshippers. After the only legal representative present left, the victims report that the following occurred: agents put a bag over their head and sealed it with tape, tied their hands behind their back, and beat them. After stripping the Witnesses naked and dousing them with water, the agents shocked them with stun guns. This sadistic torture lasted for about two hours.

At least three Witnesses are still imprisoned. Those who have been released sought medical attention for their injuries and filed complaints with supervisory agencies.

Additionally, after the mass searches were completed, the Russian authorities initiated criminal cases against a total of 19 Witnesses for so-called “participating in extremist activity” and “organizing an extremist organization.”

Such an egregious abuse of authority is punishable under the Russian Criminal Code. Additionally, the Russian Federation is subject to several international bodies that protect individuals from torture. Therefore, we will pursue all available legal remedies, both domestic and international, for this crime.

Ultimately, we know that Jehovah has seen the persecution of our brothers in Russia and will act as their ‘helper and rescuer.’—Psalm 70:5.