SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine -- Authorities in the Russian-occupied Ukrainian region of Crimea have detained another Jehovah's Witness amid an ongoing crackdown against the religious group.
Russia's Investigative Committee said on March 24 that a 30-year-old resident of the city of Kerch, whose identity was not disclosed, was detained on suspicion of being a member of the group, which was labeled as extremist and banned in Russia in 2017 but is legal in Ukraine.
The announcement came two days after prosecutors in the Crimean city of Sevastopol asked a court to sentence another Jehovah's Witness, Viktor Stashevsky, to seven years in prison on a charge of "organizing the activities of an extremist group."
Since the group was outlawed in Russia, many Jehovah's Witnesses have been imprisoned in Russia and Russian-occupied Crimea.
On March 23, prosecutors in the western Russian city of Smolensk asked a court to sentence three Jehovah's Witnesses, Yevgeny Deshko, Ruslan Korolyov, and Valery Shalyov, to prison terms between eight and nine years on similar charges.
The Jehovah's Witnesses said earlier that a fourth man in the case, Viktor Malkov, died in pretrial detention after he was denied assistance for his medical condition.
The United States has condemned Russia's ongoing crackdown on Jehovah's Witnesses and other peaceful religious minorities.
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, rejecting military service, and not celebrating national and religious holidays or birthdays.
According to the group, dozens of Jehovah's Witnesses have been either convicted of extremism or are being held in pretrial detention.
The Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Center has recognized dozens of Jehovah’s Witnesses who've been charged with or convicted of extremism as political prisoners.