7 Feb 2019 12:38

Organizers of Jehovah's Witnesses group in Mordovia detained

NIZHNY NOVGOROD. Feb 7 (Interfax) - The activity of a group of Jehovah's Witnesses (banned in Russia) in Saransk in Russia's internal republic of Mordovia has been suppressed, the regional Interior Ministry said on Thursday.

Officers of the local branch of the Federal Security Service (FSB), working with the police and the Russian Guard, carried out investigative actions and searches as part of a criminal inquiry into "organizing activity designated extremist."

"The organizers were detained. A decision on their arrest is pending," the ministry said.

It did not specify the number of detainees.

The detention of Jehovah's Witnesses in the town of Urai in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District was reported earlier on Thursday. Searches of their residences and offices yielded literature designated extremist, computers, and cell phones. A criminal case was opened.

On April 20, 2017, the Russian Supreme Court ruled that the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia and local religious organizations comprising it be closed and its activity be banned as extremist activity.

In December 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with human rights activists that representatives of religious communities should not be regarded as equivalent to members of destructive terrorist organizations.