Jehovah’s Witnesses, Fleeing Russia Crackdown, Seek Shelter in Finland

Source: The New York Times


TURKU, Finland — Sergey Avilkin, one of the hundreds of Russians now sheltering in Finland to avoid arrest as “extremists” in their home country, has no interest in politics or politicians and says that he has always followed the biblical injunction to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.”


But Mr. Avilkin, a 42-year-old father of three, said before President Trump met with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Helsinki, the Finnish capital, on Monday, that he would like Mr. Trump to ask Mr. Putin a simple question: Why are Russians who pay their taxes, follow the law and embrace the Christian values promoted by the Kremlin being forced to flee their country?

“We don’t steal, we don’t smoke, we don’t drink and always try to obey the law,” said Mr. Avilkin, sitting in the kitchen of the apartment he recently rented for his family in Turku, a city west of Helsinki, while he waits for Finland’s immigration service to process an application for asylum. “But I am 100 percent sure that if I had not left I would now be in prison.”

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