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Russian agents—carrying weapons and a sledgehammer—charging one of the 31 homes that were raided in the city of Nizhniy Novgorod in July 2019

AUGUST 7, 2019

Number of Witness Homes Raided by Russian Agents Tops 600

Number of Witness Homes Raided by Russian Agents Tops 600

Over the past 18 months, local police and Federal Security Service (FSB) agents in Russia have raided a total of 613 homes of our brothers and sisters. Since January 2019, authorities have raided 332 homes—already exceeding the 281 that were invaded in all of 2018.

Authorities have been especially active against our brothers and sisters in recent months. In June there were 71 raids, and in July there were 68—a significant increase compared to the 23.4 average number of raids per month in 2018.

Russian authorities raiding a home in Nizhniy Novgorod

In a typical raid, masked and heavily armed security forces converge on a house or apartment. Once inside the home, agents have at times pointed guns in the faces of Witnesses, including children and the elderly, as if they are hardened and dangerous criminals. It stands to reason, then, that several experts agree with Dr. Derek H. Davis, former director of Baylor University’s J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies, who states: “Russia’s aggressive persecution of a peaceful group like the Jehovah’s Witnesses is patently ‘extreme.’”

Unfortunately, as the raids have increased, so have the criminal cases against our brothers. There are now 244 brothers and sisters facing criminal charges in Russia and Crimea. This number has more than doubled since December 2018, when there were 110 open criminal cases. Of the 244 brothers and sisters facing prosecution, 39 are in detention, 27 are under house arrest, and over 100 are under a variety of restrictions.

Although our brothers and sisters continue to be targeted by Russian authorities, we are ‘not shaken by these tribulations.’ Rather, we are encouraged by reports that our fellow believers are remaining loyal and enduring. We thus praise and thank Jehovah for answering our many prayers in their behalf, and we remain ever confident that he will continue to do so.—1 Thessalonians 3:3, 7.