2019-11-05 16:13:00

Sentence for leader of Tomsk Jehovah's Witnesses consistent with current Russian law - Peskov

Moscow, November 5, Interfax - The sentence handed down to the leader of the Jehovah's Witnesses in Tomsk is consistent with the current Russian legislation, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, adding that the Kremlin does not intend to comment on the judgment itself.

"Thus far, this complies with the existing legislation. There have been no amendments to the legislation so far, therefore, the court ruling was made on the basis of the law in effect," Peskov said when asked to comment on the six-year sentence given to the leader of Jehovah's Witnesses in Tomsk.

"We cannot and will not comment on it [the sentence]," he said.

The website of the newspaper Kommersant reported that the sentence was handed down in Tomsk to Sergey Klimov, the leader of the local branch of Jehovah's Witnesses, which is banned in Russia as an extremist organization. The Oktyabrsky District Court sentenced him to six years in a general-security penal colony.

According to the investigators, the leader of the Severskaya-Tomsk community convened meetings of his fellow believers, organized religious worship at these, and collected money under the guise of donations in April 2017-June 2018, while being aware that the Jehovah's Witnesses is banned in Russia.

Operatives terminated the regional Jehovah's Witnesses branch in the summer of 2018. A criminal case of organization of activities of a banned extremist organization was initiated against Klimov. He was placed in a pre-trial detention facility for the duration of the investigation. Klimov did not agree with the charges and refused to testify.