Authorities in northern Russia have opened a criminal case against a 78-year-old woman for being a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the religious organization has said.
Russia labeled the Jehovah’s Witnesses an “extremist” group in 2017, exposing Russia’s estimated 175,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses to mass raids and forcing at least 5,000 to flee the country. The Memorial human rights organization said in May that 154 members of the religious group have been persecuted under Russia’s criminal law since then.
The Arkhangelsk region Investigative Committee opened a case against Kaleria Mamykina on May 9 for "continuing the illegal activities of a banned religious organization,” the Russian Jehovah’s Witnesses said in a statement on Tuesday.
Law enforcement monitored Mamykina for more than a year to collect evidence of her participation in local Jehovah’s Witnesses meetings, the organization said.
“Investigators have equated reading the Bible and talking about faith to acting with criminal intent,” the Jehovah’s Witnesses said.