RUSSIA : Freedom of religion or belief – Special Bimonthly FORB Digest (01–15.05.2022)
13.05.2022 – Appeal in Nizhny Novgorod approved the sentence of Victoriya Verkhoturova – 4 years suspended
Link to full text in Russian: https://www.jw-russia.org/news/2022/05/131350.html
On May 12, 2022, the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Court upheld the verdict against Victoriya Verkhoturova from Nizhny Novgorod. A panel of judges chaired by Nikolay Kozlov found the believer guilty of practicing the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses, interpreting this as extremism.
13.05.2022 – In Nizhny Novgorod, the Court sentenced Kirill Yevstigneev to 3 years suspended sentence for believing in God
Link to full text in Russian: https://www.jw-russia.org/news/2022/05/130847.html
On May 12, 2022, Viktor Ushakov, judge of the Leninskiy District Court of Nizhny Novgorod, found 42-year-old Kirill Yevstigneev guilty of financing the activities of an extremist organization and sentenced him to 3 years of suspended sentence. The believer can appeal the verdict.
12.05.2022 – The Court of Appeal on Sakhalin upheld the verdict against five believers
Link to full text in Russian : https://www.jw-russia.org/news/2022/05/121122.html
The Court of Appeal on Sakhalin upheld the verdict against five believers On May 11, 2022, the Sakhalin Regional Court dismissed the appeal of Yevgeny Yelin, Vyacheslav Ivanov, Aleksandr Kozlitin and Sergey Kulakov and his wife Tatyana. The verdict has entered into force.
12.05.2022 – Five Jehovah’s Witnesses lose appeal in Far East
Link to full text in Russian: https://www.sova-center.ru/religion/news/extremism/counter-extremism/2022/05/d46248/
On 11 May 2022, the Sakhalin oblast court upheld the sentence for five Jehovah’s Witnesses—Evgeny Elin, Viacheslav Ivanov, Alexander Koslitin, and the couple Sergei and Tatiana Kulakov—based on articles concerning the arranging of activity of an extremist organization and participating in it (parts 1 and 2 of article 282.2 of the Criminal Code). In January, the Nevelsk city court of Sakhalin oblast found Elin and Kulakov guilty on the basis of part 1 of article 282.2 CC and sentenced them to six and a half years suspended terms of incarceration. Tatiana Kulakova, Ivanov, and Kozlitin were given suspended sentences of two years on the basis of part 2 of article 282.2 CC.
12.05.2022 – The appeal in Primorye Approved the sentence of Sergey Melnikov: 3 years of suspended term for faith in Jehovah God
Link to full text in Russian : https://www.jw-russia.org/news/2022/05/121023.html
On May 12, 2022, the Primorye Regional Court of Vladivostok upheld the conviction of 49-year-old Sergey Melnikov for continuing to attend Jehovah’s Witnesses’ services and discussing the Bible with residents of Ussuriysk.
The verdict has entered into force. The believer still insists on his innocence and has the right to appeal against it in the cassation procedure.
09.05.2022 – Russia guilty of widespread desecration of houses of worship
Link to full text in Russian: https://cutt.ly/IHz9gzm
The aggressive attack by Russian troops has destroyed Christian church buildings and other sacred sites of religious communities of Ukraine. Since 24 February, at least 116 structures of religious significance (not counting adjacent buildings) have been destroyed already in at least 13 oblasts of Ukraine: Kiev, Dnepropetrovsk, Donetsk, Zhitomir, Zaporozhe, Luhansk, Lvov, Nikolaevsk, Odessa, Sumy, Kharkov, Kherson, and Chernigov. This is described in an account by the Ukrainian State Service for Ethnic Policy and Freedom of Conscience.
06.05.2022 – RUSSIA: Religious opposition to war in Ukraine – prosecutions and detentions
Despite the official support for Russia’s invasion shown by many religious leaders, most notably those in the Moscow Patriarchate, small numbers of clergy and laypeople in Russia continue to protest for explicitly religious reasons against the renewed war in Ukraine. They often face detention, prosecution, and the loss of their jobs in consequence. One, Fr Ioann Burdin, told Forum 18 he is appealing against being fined “so that life is not a bed of roses for the authorities and judges”.
05.05.2022 – RUSSIA: First known criminal investigation for opposing Ukraine war on explicitly religious grounds
Nina Belyayeva, a Protestant who is a Communist Party municipal deputy, has become the first known person in Russia to face criminal prosecution for opposing the war in Ukraine on explicitly religious grounds. During a meeting of Semiluk District Council in Voronezh Region she called Russia’s invasion a war crime. She later wrote: “I realised that if I kept silent, I would not be able to respect myself. I wouldn’t be a true Christian and human being.” She fled Russia in early April.
04.05.2022 – The oldest believer was released from prison on probation. The Court of Appeal approved the decision to release Valentina Baranovskaya
Link to full text in Russian: https://www.jw-russia.org/news/2022/05/050853.html
On May 4, 2022, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Khakassia approved the decision of the Ust-Abakan district court about the parole of 71-year-old believer. She was greeted on her way out of the colony by her many friends.
03.03.2022 – The Court in Birobidzhan sentenced the Postnikov spouses to suspended sentences for their convictions
Link to full text in Russian: https://www.jw-russia.org/news/2022/05/031445.html
On April 25, 2022, Judge Mariya Tsimarno found Oleg Postnikov and his wife Agnessa guilty of involvement in and participation in extremist activities and sentenced them to 5.5 and 5 years suspended sentence, respectively. This is the 16th conviction of Jehovah’s Witnesses from the Jewish Autonomous Region.