Fri, 23 Apr 2021

A Russian court has sentenced a mother and her son to prison as part of ongoing persecution of the Jehovah's Witnesses religious group.

A court in Abakan in the Siberian region of Khakassia on February 24 sentenced Roman Baranovsky to six years in prison and his mother, Valentina Baranovskaya, to two years, the group said.

Baranovskaya, 69, is the first woman to be imprisoned from the religious group. Last year, she suffered a stroke.

Addressing the court in a final statement, Baranovskaya condemned Russia for the 'shameful persecutions against the most peaceful, kind, and law-abiding citizens of its country.'

The Jehovah's Witnesses said the verdicts will be appealed.

Russia labeled the Jehovah's Witnesses an extremist group and banned it in 2017, leading to a wave of court cases and prison sentences against its members.

For decades, the Jehovah's Witnesses have been viewed with suspicion in Russia, where the dominant Orthodox Church is championed by President Vladimir Putin.

The Christian group is known for door-to-door preaching, close Bible study, rejection of military service, and not celebrating national and religious holidays or birthdays.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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