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Russian authorities take local Jehovah's Witnesses leaders into custody

According to investigators, searches are being conducted in Moscow and more than 20 other regions of the country

MOSCOW, November 24. /TASS/. Officers from the Russian Investigative Committee have detained the leaders of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, Spokesperson for the Moscow branch of the Investigative Committee Yulia Ivanova told TASS on Tuesday.

"A number of organizers and members of the movement have been identified and detained, they will be taken to one of the committee’s units for investigative activities," she pointed out.

"According to investigators, a group of individuals aware of the Supreme Court’s decision, which has already come into force, has been administering the organization’s religious unit in northeastern Moscow since June 2019. Clandestine meetings took place in an apartment on Chelyuskinskaya Street, where followers studied religious literature and information from other sources, which promote the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and carried out other activities typical of the organization," Ivanova specified.

It has also been established that the unit’s members recruited residents of Moscow and other Russian regions to join the banned religious movement.

"The First Department for Investigation of High-Profile Criminal Cases and Public Safety of the Investigative Committee’s Moscow branch has opened a criminal case under Article 282.1 of the Russian Criminal Code (arranging the activities of an extremist organization)," the spokesperson added.

According to Ivanova, investigators from the Moscow branch of the Investigative Committee, Interior Ministry officials and Federal Security Service (FSB) officers are carrying out searches in Moscow and more than 20 other regions of the country.