Opinions from Outsiders

The Federal Commissioner for Religious Freedom around the World is concerned about the situation of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia

Oryol Region,   Germany

On May 24, 2019, Markus Grübel, Federal Commissioner for Religious Freedom Worldwide, commented that the Court of Appeal upheld the sentence of Jehovah's Witness Dennis Christensen.

"I regret the court's decision to dismiss the Christensen appeal," said Markus Grübel, "The situation of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia is of concern to me. Freedom of religion and worldview is an important human right. Every state must respect it. Religious freedom is indivisible and valid for all religious communities."

A huge number of Russian and international figures and organizations unanimously condemn the persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia. These include the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation, the Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation, the President of the Russian Federation, prominent public figures of Russia, the European Union External Action Service, observers of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Russian government has repeatedly stated that the decisions of the Russian courts on the liquidation and prohibition of organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses "do not assess the doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses, do not contain a restriction or prohibition to practice the above teachings individually." Nevertheless, Russian security forces in 40 regions continue to conduct night raids on the homes of believers and throw them into prisons.

Case of Christensen in Oryol

Case History
Dennis Christensen is the first Jehovah’s Witness in modern Russia to be imprisoned only because of his faith. He was arrested in May 2017. The FSB accused the believer of organizing the activities of a banned organization on the basis of the testimony of a secret witness, theologian Oleg Kurdyumov from a local university, who kept covert audio and video recordings of conversations with Christensen about faith. There are no extremist statements or victims in the case. In 2019, the court sentenced Christensen to 6 years in prison. The believer was serving time in the Lgov colony. He repeatedly asked for the replacement of part of the unserved term with a fine. For the first time, the court granted the request, but the prosecutor’s office appealed this decision, and the prison administration threw the believer into a punishment cell on trumped-up charges. Christensen developed illnesses that prevented him from working in prison. On May 24, 2022, the believer was released after serving his sentence and was immediately deported to his homeland, Denmark.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Oryol Region
Suspected of:
according to the investigation, together with the others he conducted religious services, which is interpreted as “organising the activity of an extremist organisation” (with reference to the court’s decision on the liquidation of the local organisation of Jehovah’s Witnesses)
Court case number:
May 23, 2017
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
UFSB of Russia in the Oryol region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
[i18n] Рассмотрено судом первой инстанции:
Железнодорожный районный суд г. Орла
Алексей Николаевич Руднев
[i18n] Суд апелляционной инстанции:
Орловский областной суд
[i18n] Суд апелляционной инстанции:
Льговский райсуд Курской области
Case History