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3 Jehovah's Witnesses convicted in Russia amid crackdown

MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian court has convicted three adherents of the Jehovah's Witnesses of participating in a religion banned for extremism, the latest move against the denomination. Russia banned the Jehovah's Witnesses in 2017 and since then has convicted 24 members, nine of whom are imprisoned; 27 others are in pretrial detention.

The three who were convicted Monday in the central Russian city of Karpinsk were given suspended sentences of up to 2 1/2 years. "Russian authorities today are following in the footsteps of their Soviet predecessors,” Jarrod Lopes, spokesman for the Jehovah's Witnesses world headquarters in Warwick, New York, said in a statement.

The Kremlin has actively used vaguely worded extremism laws to crack down on opposition activists and religious minorities.

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