Jehovah’s Witnesses Most Persecuted Religious Denomination In Russia In 2018 – OpEd


Moscow increased its repression of various religious groups at odds with the four traditional faiths of Russia, but the most persecuted in Russia in 2018 by far have been the Jehovah’s Witnesses, against whom at least 62 criminal cases have been opened and 49 of the faithful confined in preliminary detention centers or under house arrest.

One striking characteristic of the Russian campaign against the Jehovah’s Witnesses is that all these cases have been initiated outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg, as if the authorities wanted to test their repressive mechanism there beyond the prying eyes of opposition media and Western diplomats, Anton Chivchalov says (

The Credo portal religious affairs expert says that all these actions have their roots in the 2017 Supreme Court decision labelling the Jehovah’s Witnesses an extremist organization and liquidating all 396 religious communities affiliated with the Witnesses in Russia. But the actions of local police, prosecutors and courts have little to do with legal niceties.

They treat being a Jehovah’s Witness as a crime in and of itself, a violation of the Russian Constitution and international law, and something that has drawn protests from human rights groups inside Russia and international legal organizations which have pointed out that the Russian approach makes all of the Witnesses in Russia potential victims.

The Russian authorities deny that is true even though case after case showed that it is, that Jehovah’s Witnesses are being convicted of crimes not for any “terrorist” activity but simply for being members of that denomination.  Russian law enforcement personnel know that is what their bosses want, Chivchalov says; and the government has never said otherwise. 

The hypocrisy and duplicity of the Russian authorities in response to these charges has “confused even themselves” as was demonstrated when Vladimir Putin himself “unexpectedly declared that he did not understand why the Jehovah’s Witnesses were being pursued. [They] are also Christians; for what they are being persecuted, I also do not understand very well.”

Those who try to defend what Russian courts are doing say that the Russian authorities are only defending themselves against those who are banned in Europe, won’t serve in the army, and won’t take their children to hospitals. “All three of these asserts are untrue.” But few in the Russian establishment care.

“Truth,” the Credo journalist says, “isn’t much in demand, but lies are spreading like a forest fire.” One can only hope and pray that the situation will get better in 2019.

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

7 thoughts on “Jehovah’s Witnesses Most Persecuted Religious Denomination In Russia In 2018 – OpEd

  • January 4, 2019 at 1:05 am

    Let s make clear one thing, only the members have been persecuted, the leaders like the Circuit Overseer, District Overseer, and the Governing Body in Patterson, NY along with the elite always dodge the bullet, in this situation is important to learn about the past, in Germany during II World War the members ended up in concentration camps, the members along with the president of the Branch in Germany gave up to the pressure from the very beginning, the same in Argentina in 1978 when the work was banned, all the missionaries left Argentina the very same day.

    • January 8, 2019 at 8:11 pm

      that is very interesting.How did you get such info ???…from apostates or from Russian KGB??

    • January 10, 2019 at 8:27 am

      I mean Patterson, NJ.

  • January 4, 2019 at 11:17 am

    When Putin says that Jehovah’s Witnesses are Christian, he contradicts influential people who say they are not. He contradicts ‘anti-cultists’ who say they are the most dangerous of people. He thus shows that he will not be shoved around by the opinion of others.

    “Russian law enforcement personnel know that is what their bosses want.” …In view of what he said, I’m not so sure that they do anymore. If I was a Russian cop, I would certainly hesitate to rough up a Witness after hearing this.

    It is even possible that he will vent his displeasure on those who maneuver him into such a ridiculous position, giving his country an international black eye. They paint the religion as dangerous extremists? All anyone must do is peruse their website where it instantly becomes apparent that they are not.

  • January 6, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    One reason Jehovah s Witnesses became an extremists sect is when blood transfusion is not allowed to be performed on children with the result thousands of deaths. We call Muslims extremists but Jehovah’s Witnesses kill people too.

    • January 8, 2019 at 8:14 pm

      are you convinced we should have no objection against using blood mate???
      may I know WHY you are so staunch on that??…any scriptures verses or just /un/common sens??

  • January 10, 2019 at 8:14 am

    The information about Erich Frost is based from a German Newspaper that published sensitive information about him around 1961. About the Missionaries in Argentina I was there when in happened. Also is important to read about the “Declaration of the fact” from secular people and statement from the 1933 Watchtower Yearbook than in part says: “The greatest and most oppressive empire on earth is the Anglo-American empire. By that is meant the British Empire, of which the United States of America forms a part. It has been the commercial Jews of the British-American empire that have built up and carried on Big Business as a means of exploiting and oppressing the peoples of many nations. This fact particularly applies to the cities of London and New York, the stronghold of Big Business. This fact is so manifest in America that there is a proverb concerning the city of New York which says: `The Jews own it, the Irish Catholics rule it, and the Americans pay the bills.’ We have no fight with any of these persons mentioned, but, as the witnesses for Jehovah and in obedience to his commandment set forth in the Scriptures, we are compelled to call attention to the truth concerning the same in order that the people may be enlightened concerning God and his purpose.
    Also the book Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Third Reich.


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