Picture by Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia
Name: Gennadiy Shpakovsky
Country/Area of Origin: Russia
Background: Gennadiy 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.”
- On 3 August 2020, it was revealed that the Pskov Regional Court, located in Western Russia, had commuted Shpakovsky’s six and a half year sentence to “a suspended sentence of the same duration including two years on probation”. He was released from detention on the same day.