2019-02-06 16:49:00

Danish citizen gets 6 years in penal colony for organizing Jehovah's Witnesses community in Oryol

Oryol, February 6, Interfax - Oryol's Zheleznodorozhny Court on Wednesday has sentenced Danish citizen Dennis Ole Christensen in the case involving the creation of a regional division of the Jehovah's Witnesses (banned in Russia).

"The court found Dennis Ole Christensen guilty of committing a crime described by Part 1, Article 282.2 of the Russian Criminal Code (organization of the work of an extremist organization) and sentenced him to six years in a general security penal colony," the court said in a statement on its website.

Because there is an extenuating circumstance in the case and Christensen has no previous criminal record, he was given the minimum punishment, the court said.

Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen expressed concern about the sentencing. "Deeply concerned by sentencing of Dennis Christensen. Again call on Russia to respect freedom of religion," he wrote on Twitter, adding that the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to follow the situation.

The court said it has been determined that "Dennis Christensen, knowing about the type of activity of the local religious organization Jehovah's Witnesses Oryol and knowing that there was a court ruling in legal force to close that organization due to extremist activities, deliberately took organizational actions aimed at continuing its illegal activities when he was in Oryol in the period between January 18, 2017 and May 25, 2017."

Christensen was arrested on May 25, 2017 in a building on Zheleznodorozhnaya Street, where local Jehovah's Witnesses were holding a Bible study.

In July 2016, an Oryol court found the activities of the Jehovah's Witnesses in Oryol extremist and ruled to close the organization. The Russian Supreme Court upheld that ruling in October 2016.