Picture by Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia
Name: Gennady Shpakovsky
Background: Gennady Shpakovsky, along with his wife and daughter, are practicing Jeahovah’s Witnesses. Jehovah’s Witnesses have historically been persecuted by the Russian government, and in 2017 the religious sect was determined to be an extremist ideology. Handfuls of Jehovah’s Witnesses have been detained for their activities of evangelism.
Reason for arrest: A case to investigate members of the Jehovah’s Witness organization was opened in mid-2018. On June 9, 2020, Shpakovsky was arrested, charged with being a leading member of the banned ideology organization and engaging in proselytism, and sentenced to six and a half years in prison, the longest sentence handed down by the Russian government to a Jehovah’s Witness.
According to RadioFreeEurope RadioLiberty, prior to the reading of his verdict, Shpakovsky made the following statement:
“I consider myself not guilty…I did not commit any crime against any person, the government, the country, or the existing system. The charging files against me do not have a defined damage or a victim. I am being persecuted for my faith.”