US imposes sanctions on two Investigators from Surgut due to torture of Jehovah's Witnesses

US imposes sanctions on two Investigators from Surgut due to torture of Jehovah's Witnesses
Vladimir Ermolaev and Stepan Tkach

Believers were allegedly beaten, strangled, and electrocuted during interrogation to obtain the names of new suspects.

The United States imposed sanctions on two Russian investigators because of suspicion of torture during interrogation. The head of the Surgut Investigations Department, Vladimir Yermolaev, and investigator Stepan Tkach, were blacklisted, according to the US Department of State website.

The investigators allegedly knocked out the names of other believers from the detained followers of Jehovah's Witnesses. During the interrogations, the detainees were strangled with plastic bags on their heads and electrocuted, the US State Department reports. The ICR refuted the use of tortures. 

In 2017, Jehovah's Witnesses were recognized as an extremist organization in the Russian Federation, after which law enforcement authorities periodically detain believers or raid the movement’s cells.

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