I just got the verdict… The Zheleznodorozhniy District Court in Oryol ruled that 56-year-old Sergey Skrynnikov is guilty of participating in the activity of an extremist organization and imposed a large fine of 350 thousand RUB ($4,758.95 EUR; $5,348.00 US). No prison time was ordered, although the prosecution was seeking three years of detention. Sergey has 10 days to appeal today's decision.
Sergey is the second Jehovah's Witness in Russia to be convicted under Article 282.2 of the Russian Criminal Code for his peaceful worship, since the 2017 Russian Supreme Court ruling that liquidated the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Solnechnoye and 395 Local Religious Organizations (LROs) used by the Witnesses throughout Russia.
Paul Gillies, international spokesman for Jehovah's Witnesses at their world headquarters in New York, states: "Sergey Skrynnikov is yet another victim of Russia's campaign to crush the peaceful religious activity of Jehovah's Witnesses. Sergey's bold and fearless concluding statement in court was a testimony to his personal faith. We feel great empathy for Sergey, his wife, and dependent family. This conviction, along with other recent events, is further evidence of the resurgence of Soviet-style repression in Russia, despite the international outcry that followed Dennis Christensen's sentencing."
SUPPLEMENTAL: Although there is an obvious and very tragic irony in Sergey earning the same label of "extremist" that is given to violently radical groups such as ISIS, there is also irony in the fact that Sergey's so-called extremist Christian beliefs are what saved his marriage decades ago. When Sergey was 25, he began abusing alcohol due to the disappointment of losing his job and having severe marital problems. Thus, Sergey's mother, who was one of Jehovah's Witnesses, encouraged him to turn to the Bible, and it helped him to stop abusing alcohol. In 1989, Sergey was baptized as one of Jehovah's Witnesses. Because Sergey's ex-wife Nina noticed that he made positive changes in his life/personality as result of his new-found faith, she began studying the Bible and they got remarried. Nina was baptized as one of Jehovah's Witnesses one year after Sergey.