The case of Zotov and others in Berezovsky

Case history

In October 2020, the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Sverdlovsk Region opened a criminal case against Konstantin Zotov and Natalia Kochneva from the city of Berezovsky. Shortly thereafter, a series of searches took place in the homes of 10 believers. In September 2021, the investigation brought in 5 more believers as defendants - Kristina Gruzdeva, Valentina Kugukov, Alexandra Zakharova and the Fokin spouses, Stanislav and Marina. In October, another criminal case was opened against Zotov. In March 2022, a new version of the charge was brought against Konstantin — the believer is being persecuted under several articles of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation at once.

  • #
    October 14, 2020

    Alexey Zyryanov, Head of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Sverdlovsk Region, is initiating a criminal case under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code against Konstantin Zotov and Natalia Kochneva. According to the investigation, the believers "participated in meetings of the Berezovsky subdivision, held conversations in order to promote religious exclusivity, and disseminated deliberately extremist materials."

  • #
    October 15, 2020

    Judge of the Berezovsky City Court of the Sverdlovsk Region Lilia Chechulina orders a search of Natalia Kochneva's home. Prosecutor Ulyana Zhevlakova supports the petition "as lawful and reasonable."

  • #
    October 19, 2020

    Searches are being conducted at the homes of Konstantin Zotov, Natalia Kochneva and 3 other addresses of believers. As a result, CCE employees seize Bibles of various translations, bank cards, electronic devices and other media, personal records, photographs and postcards, SIM cards, cash receipts, a city map and watches.

    Natalia Kochneva's house is searched by the deputy head of the investigation department, Lieutenant Colonel Mikhail Snigirev, with the participation of the detective of the CPE of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the Sverdlovsk Region, Police Major Vladimir Yarochevsky, the senior detective of the FSB, Major Alexei Filatov, and the chief expert of the ECC, Marina Egorova.

  • #
    October 21, 2020 Search
  • #
    September 24, 2021

    The investigator for especially important cases of the first department for the investigation of especially important cases of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Sverdlovsk Region, N. A. Berg, attracts as defendants in this case five more residents of Berezovsky - Kristina Gruzdeva, Valentina Kugukova, Alexandra Zakharova, as well as spouses Stanislav and Marina Fokins.

    According to the investigation, the accused, "realizing the unlawful nature and public danger of their actions, wishing to exert a psychological impact on society, with the aim of promoting the ideas of superiority of some groups over others, inciting religious discord, promoting the exclusivity, superiority and inferiority of citizens on the basis of their attitude to religion ... that is, acting on the grounds of religious hatred ... committed deliberate actions aimed at achieving the goals of the extremist organization 'Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia'".

    The investigation calls "dangerous actions" the fact that believers "together with other members of the local religious cell read [and] prayers to Jehovah God, sang [and] religious songs, studied [and] prohibited religious literature, watching demonstration role-playing games and participating in them."

  • #
    October 25, 2021

    It becomes known that another criminal case has been initiated against Konstantin Zotov under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation - organization of the activities of an extremist organization.

  • #
    March 17, 2022

    The investigator of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee, Lieutenant Colonel of Justice N. A. Berg, charges Konstantin Zotov in a new edition.

    The believer is prosecuted under several articles of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation: Part 1 and Part 2 of Article 282.2, Part 1 of Article 282.3 and Part 3 of Article 33. At the same time, criminal prosecution under Part 1.1 of Article 282.2 (involvement) is terminated for lack of corpus delicti.

    Zotov is accused of "carrying out pastoral work, personally holding meetings of participants, including using video conferencing technology, at which, together with other members of the local religious cell, he memorized religious texts ... was actively engaged in missionary work."