Saratov: Searches, frame-ups and arrests of three believers


JW in Russia (15.06.2018) –  and – On 12 June 2018 in Saratov and the oblast, personnel of law enforcement agencies conducted massive searches in homes of citizens who are suspected of professing the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Three men were arrested and taken to a SIZO: 43-year-old Konstantin Bazhenov, 35-year-old Aleksei Budenchuk, and 33-year-old Feliks Makhammadiev.


At least 7 searches are known in the city of Saratov and village of Shirokoe (Saratov oblast). Acting extremely rudely, personnel of law enforcement agencies hacked at apartment doors. Thus, after arriving for a search in the home of Konstantin and Irina Bazhenov, the special forces by mistake broke down the door to their neighbors’ and only later, having realized, broke down the door to the couple’s apartment. During searches, all technology, books, photographs, notebooks, personal savings passbooks, and foreign passports were seized from the citizens.


During at least two searches, planting of forbidden items occurred. For example, during a search in the village of Shitokoe, in the home of Aleksei and Tatiana Budenchuk, in the sleeve of a child’s jacket, hanging on a hanger, the intruders inserted and then demonstratively “discovered” two books, one of which had been entered into the Federal List of Extremist Materials. Aleksei Budenchuk was arrested.


More than ten persons were taken for interrogation to the F.S.B. and several were interrogated until almost midnight. On the whole, during questioning, believers followed the instruction from the Bible: “I will restrain my lips while the evil one is before me. I was mute and voiceless and was silent even about the good” (Bible, Psalm 38.2,3 Synodal translation).


On 14 June 2018 it was learned that Konstantin Bazhenov, Feliks Makhammadiev, and Aleksei Budenchuk were charged on the basis of article 282.2(1) of the Criminal Code of the RF (“planning the activity of an extremist organization”). Svetlana Gogoleva, a judge of the Frunze district court of the city of Saratov, chose as a measure to assure appearance a two-month confinement in custody (until 12 August 2018) for these law-abiding, respected citizens.


Such a serious violation of the rights of believers is a direct consequence of a horrible judicial mistake, the decision of the Russian Supreme Court for the baseless liquidation and ban of all 396 organizations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. Law enforcement personnel, driven by unknown motives, consider the joint religious confession of law-abiding citizens to be participation in the activity of an extremist organization. (tr. by PDS, posted 16 June 2018)


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