Please join the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) for a virtual hearing about the alarming state of religious freedom in the Russian Federation and Central Asia, and recommendations on how the United States should respond.
On April 16, Russian security services drove Raim Aivazov to a forest, forced him to his knees and put a gun to his head before firing a shot into the air. Aivazov, a Tatar Muslim activist from Crimea, was then told that the next time would be for real unless he signed a confession incriminating himself and other Crimean Tatars of membership in a terrorist group. Unfortunately, this incident was not an unusual one in Russian-occupied Crimea.
USCIRF today released the following report:
This issue update explains the legacy of Soviet-era legislation as well as the substantial influence of the western anti-cult movement on contemporary religious regulation in Russia and Central Asia. The report describes the institutions and highlights individuals driving the restrictions of religious freedom—including an ongoing crackdown on the Jehovah’s Witnesses—and offers policy recommendations to address the challenges that the region poses to these essential rights.
USCIRF expressed concern about the health and wellbeing of Dennis Christensen, a Jehovah’s Witness prisoner of conscience still imprisoned in Russia. Christensen was granted parole on June 23, but USCIRF has learned that prosecutor Aleksei Shatunov subsequently appealed the decision. Christensen will remain in prison while a new hearing is scheduled, which could take weeks.
USCIRF condemned the recent increase in harsh prison sentences handed down to members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia.
WASHINGTON, DC (September 13, 2019) -- In response to the U.S. State Department’s recent decision to publicly designate Russian officials Vladimir Petrovich Yermolayev and Stepan Vladimirovich Tkach, as well as their immediate families, as ineligible for entry into the United States for their involvement in the arrest and torture of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the city of Surgut, USCIRF Chair Tony Perkins and Vice Chair Gayle Manchin issued the following statements: