07/06/2020

Urgent Action Update: Jehovah’s Witness’ Release Appealed (Russian Federation: UA 99.20)


On 25 June, the prosecution appealed the court decision of 23 June to release Jehovah’s Witness Dennis Christensen, a Danish national living in Russia. On 26 June, the penal colony authorities put him into punitive confinement for alleged minor violations of prison rules, further threatening prospects of his release. Dennis Christensen is a prisoner of conscience persecuted solely for his faith and must be released immediately and unconditionally.

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Aleksey Nikolaevich Tsukanov
Prosecutor of Kursk Region
Prosecutor’s Office of Kursk Region
Ul. Lenina, 21
Kursk, 305000
Russian Federation
Email: [email protected]
Ambassador Anatoly Antonov
Embassy of the Russian Federation
2650 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington DC 20007
Phone: 202 298 5700 I Fax: 202 298 5735
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @RusEmbUSA
Facebook: @RusEmbUSA
Instagram: @RusEmbUSA
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

 

Dear Prosecutor of Kursk Region,

I am writing to urge you to ensure that the prosecutor’s office withdraws its appeal against the release of Danish Jehovah’s Witness Dennis Christensen and that while he is still in custody his rights are not violated.

On 23 June, the Lgov District Court decided to release Dennis Christensen, having commuted his sentence and ordering him to pay a RUB 400,000 fine. The prosecutor present at the hearing supported this decision. However, on 25 June, another prosecutor filed an appeal against the court decision quoting the negative reports by the penal colony administration which claimed Dennis Christensen lacked “a favorable record of work and public life at the correctional facility” as grounds for the appeal.

During Dennis Christensen’s imprisonment in IK-3, the penal colony authorities have repeatedly subjected him to unsubstantiated punishments. Some of them have been quashed by the prosecutor’s office. On 26 June, the day after the prosecution’s appeal, Dennis Christensen was again reprimanded and put into punitive confinement accused of being in the canteen at the wrong time and wearing only a t-shirt instead of a prisoner’s jacket. Dennis Christensen told his lawyer that although there were other prisoners with him at the time of the alleged violations, he was the only one sent to the punishment cell. He shares a cell of about six square meters with another prisoner. The cell lacks proper ventilation and has mold, further threatening Dennis Christensen’s health which deteriorated due to pneumonia.

In April, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urged states to release political prisoners and those who might be especially at risk of contracting COVID-19. I urge you to ensure that the appeal against Dennis Christensen’s release is withdrawn and that while he is still in custody his rights are not violated.

Yours sincerely,

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