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Stalin like persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses planned in Ukraine

Russia is tellingly talking about "purges" in occupied territories – ISW

FRIDAY, 23 FEBRUARY 2024, 04:56

Dmitry Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, has described Russia's plans for repressions against Ukrainian citizens in the occupied territories of Ukraine, and the FSB conducted searches in the Jehovah's Witnesses community in occupied Mariupol.

Details: Medvedev said that Ukrainian citizens in the occupied territory of Ukraine who "harm" Russia should be "exposed and punished, sent to Siberia ... for re-education in forced labour camps." 

The ISW noted that the exemplary trials and repressions of the Stalinist era, starting in the 1920s and the 1930s, were also aimed at saboteurs (who were considered to be harmful for the state), especially in the agricultural sector. 

The analysts noted that Medvedev's use of Stalinist-era rhetoric about "purges" is telling.

Yevhen Balytskyi, the Kremlin-appointed head of occupied part of Zaporizhzhia Oblast, has also openly discussed and attempted to defend Russia's illegal occupation policy. He justified the forced deportation of Ukrainian citizens who opposed Russia's invasion of Ukraine and even hinted at executions of Ukrainian citizens by Russian occupation forces.

In addition, Russia continues to extend its state policy of systematic religious persecution in occupied parts of Ukraine. On 22 February, Denis Pushilin, the Kremlin-appointed puppet leader of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (non-recognised and self-proclaimed quasi-state formation in Donetsk Oblast – ed.), posted photos supposedly showing the FSB and Rosgvardiia searching the office of the Jehovah's Witnesses community in occupied Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast. 

Pushilin claimed that Russian authorities seized more than 5,000 books from the office. In 2017, Russia banned the Jehovah's Witnesses as an "extremist" organisation, and Russian authorities have persecuted Jehovah's Witnesses and other religious minorities in Russia and Ukraine alike.

To quote the ISW’s Key Takeaways on 22 February:  

  • Russian Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitry Medvedev said that Russia would likely have to seize Kyiv sooner or later while identifying Russia’s possible further territorial objectives in Ukraine.

  • Medvedev’s mention of Russia’s possible intentions to occupy Odesa may be worth noting in light of recent developments in the pro-Russian breakaway republic of Transnistria in Moldova, the southern tip of which is about 50 kilometers from the city.

  • Medvedev also described Russian plans to repress Ukrainian citizens in occupied Ukraine.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) leaders and Republic of Tatarstan Head Rustam Minnikhanov on 21-22 February.

  • Ukrainian forces conducted another successful strike against a Russian training ground in occupied Kherson Oblast on 21 February and likely inflicted significant casualties.

  • Ukraine’s European and Western allies continue to ramp up their support for Ukraine.

  • Russian opposition outlet Proekt reported on 22 February that the Russian government has subjected at least 116,000 Russians to criminal and administrative charges since the start of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fourth term in office in 2018.

  • Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated on 22 February that the Kremlin does not regard Russian military correspondents (voyenkory) and milbloggers as participants of the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine, shortly after the suicide of a prominent Russian milblogger on 21 February.

  • Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Bakhmut and Avdiivka.

  • A Russian insider source claimed that Russian officials have postponed creating Rosgvardia’s 1st Volunteer Corps from remaining Wagner Group detachments because of an ongoing rotation of former Wagner personnel in Africa.

  • Russia continues to export its state policies on systemic religious persecution to occupied Ukraine.

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