Baptists arrested in Russia complain to ECHR

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Human Rights Without Frontiers reports that Donald Jay Ossewaarde, an American national who has lived in Oryol, Russia, since 2005, filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights March 30, 2017, based on his arrest and conviction of violating Article 5.26(5) of the Code of Administrative Offences.

On Sunday, 14 August 2016, while Ossewaarde was holding a Bible reading meeting in his home, police officers walked in. At the end of the service, they questioned him and those attending and then took him to the police station, where he was fingerprinted and shown a statement by a “concerned resident” who complained to the police about “foreign religious cultists” pasting Gospel tracts to a bulletin board at her apartment block. The “concerned resident” was deputy chairman of the Oryol Regional Government in charge of security matters.

Ossewaarde’s actions were interpreted as spreading information about his religion among non-members of his religious group and conducting “missionary activities” without notification of establishment of a religious group.

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