UPDATE: Russian Court Orders Woman Detained for Nearly Two Months for Practicing Falun Gong

Natalya Minenkova

Natalya Minenkova

NEW YORK—On May 4, a judge from the Tushinsky District Court in Moscow ordered that a Falun Gong practitioner in Russia, Natalya Minenkova, 46, be held for one month and 25 days. Her case is pending investigation, and she then faces trial and potential imprisonment, simply for practicing and organizing activities related to Falun Gong.

“By ordering the detention of Ms. Minenkova, Russia joins communist China as the only other country where a judge has incarcerated a citizen simply for meditating and aspiring to live by Falun Gong’s teachings of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance,” said Falun Dafa Information Center executive director Levi Browde. “This shameful act further erodes freedoms in Russia, and demonstrates Russia’s growing, and disconcerting, ties to China’s communist regime.”

Natalya Minenkova meditates in a park in Moscow, July 2022

Ms. Minenkova, a woman who organizes Falun Gong meditation groups in Moscow, was among three Falun Gong practitioners detained during home searches in the early morning on May 3; the relative of another practitioner was also taken into custody but quickly released. Ms. Minenkova has been charged under Article 284.1, “conducting activities of a foreign or international non-governmental organization,” a provision that has been used in the past to crack down on journalists and civil society groups in Russia. The charges she faces, per court documents, could carry as many as nine years in prison.  

Russian media have portrayed her as a “leader of the sect” and have repeated the Chinese Communist Party’s false propaganda about the practice. Two other practitioners, Svetlana Kiseleva and Eremin Michael, were reportedly detained as witnesses and have been released.

“The sum total of what Ms. Minenkova was doing is bringing music to a park and guiding others to do meditation exercises, while hosting readings of spiritual texts in her home, all as a volunteer because she wanted to share the benefits she received from practicing Falun Gong with others.” says Browde. “Falun Gong is neither a ‘sect’ nor is Ms. Minenkova a ‘leader,’ illustrating the completely false portrayal of this case by Russia’s government-controlled press.”

For additional details on the police raid of Ms. Minenkova’s home and prior harassment of Falun Gong practitioners by Russian authorities, see URGENT APPEAL: Falun Gong Practitioners Detained in Russia.

The Falun Dafa Information Center will continue to follow this story as it develops. For inquiries, contact us at [email protected].