Kemerovo, February 17, Interfax - The suspected organizer of a cell of the Jehovah's Witnesses organization (banned in Russia) in the city of Belovo, Kemerovo Region has been placed under house arrest, the regional investigative department of the Russian Investigative Committee said in a statement on Wednesday.
"The detainee is not cooperating with the investigators, as he has invoked Article 51 of the Constitution (no one is obliged to testify against oneself). A court has placed the man under house arrest," the statement said.
The 53-year-old defendant has been charged with organizing the activity of a religious organization whose liquidation has been ordered by a valid court ruling for reasons of extremist activity.
According to preliminary information, the defendant held online meetings of members of the prohibited organization for three years and was supplying them with books, including those containing propaganda of the prohibited organization's ideas.
The police have seized various documents and data storage devices from the defendant and other suspected cell members. A number of forensic examinations will be conducted in order to determine whether this information is extremist.
On April 20, 2017, the Russian Supreme Court upheld the Russian Justice Ministry's motion, branded the Russian branch of Jehovah's Witnesses an extremist organization, and prohibited its activity in Russian territory. Recently, law enforcement agencies have shut down dozens of movement cells in practically every region of the country. Criminal cases have been opened against members of the Jehovah's Witnesses, and they have received fines, suspended sentences, and jail time.