Russian Jehovah’s Witness sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison

MOSCOW — The Jehovah’s Witnesses say a member of the religious denomination that is banned in Russia has been sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison, the harshest punishment in scores of cases.

The denomination’s European office said 63-year-old Alexander Ivashin was sentenced on Wednesday in the Krasnodar region of southern Russia.

Authorities said he had conducted religious discussions with friends in another city by video link. Russia banned the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2017 and declared the religious group an extremist organization.

Currently, 46 members are imprisoned and 27 under house arrest, the denomination says.