A court in southwestern Russia has handed a two-year prison term to a Jehovah’s Witness amid an ongoing crackdown on the religious group, which has been banned in the country since 2017.
The Pavlov district court in the Krasnodar region sentenced Maksim Beltikov on January 17 after finding him guilty of taking part in the activities of “extremist organization.”
Prosecutors sought a three-year prison term for the 41-year-old father of three.
Since the faith was outlawed, many Jehovah’s Witnesses have been imprisoned in Russia.
According to the group, dozens of Jehovah’s Witnesses have either been convicted of extremism or have been held in pretrial detention.
The United States has condemned Russia’s ongoing crackdown on Jehovah’s Witnesses and other peaceful religious minorities.
For decades, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been viewed with suspicion in Russia, where the dominant Orthodox Church is championed by President Vladimir Putin.
The Christian group is known for door-to-door preaching, close Bible study, rejection of military service, and refusal to mark national and religious holidays or birthdays.