May 21, 2021

Security Snoops on Banya Bathers


Security Snoops on Banya Bathers
Maybe leave your shorts on. Smarticvs, Wikimedia Commons

A court case in the Ural city of Perm demonstrates that we really aren't too far from where Orwell predicted we might be.

Video from the interior of a Russian Banya has surfaced in the trial of a group of Jehovah's Witnesses. Russia's state security service and the successor to the KGB, the FSB, used a hidden camera to capture JW meetings taking place in bathhouses. As a result, five persons received suspended sentences.

Understandably, the move has angered human rights groups worldwide, as well as banya-goers who now have reason to be a little more bashful when thwacking their naked friends with birch sticks.

Jehovah's Witnesses have long been viewed with suspicion in Russia, and fell under greater scrutiny with the passage of a 2017 law against "religious extremism" both Christian-derived and not. Banyas are often used to perform JW baptisms, an important ritual for the group.

So maybe do a sweep the next time you head to the banya to scrub your buddies.

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