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Jehovah's Witnesses Say More Homes Raided In Central Russia

Dennis Christensen earlier this year was sentenced to six years in prison after being convicted of extremism, for his affiliation with the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Russian law enforcement agencies have raided more homes belonging to members of the Jehovah's Witnesses in regions east of Moscow, according to the U.S.-based religious group.

The group, which the Russian Supreme Court has deemed to be extremist, said on March 26 that masked, armed officers raided an apartment in the central Chelyabinsk region, seizing a computer, tablets, books, and a passport.

Two people were detained, the group said.

In the Kirov region, east of Moscow, armed officers raided at least 10 homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses on March 26, detained several people and opening criminal investigations, the group said.

The reports could not be immediately corroborated. Still, they come amid a widening crackdown on the group within Russia.

The organization has been under intense pressure since the Russian high court ruled in 2017 that it was an "extremist" organization. The group has reported a growing number of raids and detentions of its adherents in recent months.

In February, a Danish member of the group was convicted of extremism by a court in the southern city of Oryol and sentenced to six years in prison. It was the first such case since the Supreme Court ruling.

Headquartered in the U.S. state of New York, the Jehovah's Witnesses have long been viewed with suspicion in Russia and elsewhere for members' views about military service, voting, and government authority in general.

The group says it has about 170,000 adherents in Russia.

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