RUSSIA: A Russian Jehovah’s Witness was sentenced to 8 years in prison

In comparison
  • According to Article 111 Part 1 of the Russian Federation’s Criminal Code, grievous bodily harm draws a maximum of 8 years sentence. 
  • According to Article 126 Part 1 of the Criminal Code, kidnappingleads to up to 5 years in prison.
  • According to Article 131 Part 1 of the Criminal Code, rapeis punishable with 3 to 6 years in prison.

The European Times NewsThe European Times/ Sova Center/ HRWF (23.05.2024) – On May 16, 2024, the Samara Regional Court confirmed the sentence of Jehovah’s Witness Alexander Chagan to 8 years in prison under Part 1 of Art. 282.2 Criminal Code (organization of the activities of an extremist organization).

On February 29, 2024, the Central District Court of Togliatti sentenced Chagan to eight years in a penal colony. In addition to the main punishment, Chagan was assigned a year of restriction of freedom and a three-year ban on participation in activities related to religious organizations.

The criminal case against the Jehovah’s Witness was initiated on September 14, 2022 – the investigation was carried out by the Central Interdistrict Investigation Department of Togliatti of the Investigative Committee of Russia in the Samara region. According to the investigation, the believer was involved in “involving citizens in the banned extremist organization “Advernal Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia”. On September 21 of the same year, his apartment, as well as Vladimir Zubkov’s, were searched. Later, Chagan was assigned a preventive measure in the form of a travel ban. In July 2023, the case was brought to court. After the verdict was announced, he was detained in the courtroom.

The accusation of Jehovah’s Witnesses of involvement in the activities of an extremist organization is due to the fact that in April 2017, the Supreme Court of Russia decided to recognize the Management Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia and their 395 local religious organizations as extremist. This decision, which led to the mass persecution of believers under Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code, had no legal basis, and can be interpreted as a manifestation of religious discrimination.

In June 2022, the ECHR issued a ruling on the complaint of Jehovah’s Witnesses, in which it recognized that the prohibition of their organization, the closure of all their local associations and the prosecution of their membersbelievers were contrary to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

The ECHR demanded the termination of criminal cases under Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code against Jehovah’s Witnesses and the release of their members in detention.



Further reading about FORB in Russia on HRWF website