The Case of Bushev in Chelyabinsk

Case History

One September evening in 2022, Yevgeniy Bushev from Chelyabinsk was visiting a friend whose home was raided by security forces while he was there. As it turned out, the Investigative Committee suspected Yevgeniy of participating in the activity of an extremist organization, and a criminal case was initiated against him. The believer was taken to his home for it to be searched, and the next day he was placed under a recognizance agreement. Later, the charge was changed to a different article: organizing the activity of an extremist organization. According to investigator Aleksandr Chepenko, Bushev is guilty of extremism because he attended the meetings for worship of Jehovah’s Witnesses and talked with people about the Bible. Testimony against the believer was given by a National Guard officer, who feigned interest in the Bible. In August 2023, the court accepted the case materials for consideration, and two months later sentenced the believer to 7 years of imprisonment. In April 2024, the court of appeal reduced this term to 6 years in a penal colony.

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    August 24, 2022 Case initiated

    Alexander Chepenko, an investigator for particularly important cases of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Chelyabinsk Region, initiates a criminal case against Yevgeny Bushev under Part 2. Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

    The believer is suspected of "taking part in the activities of a religious association ... in the form of participation in religious meetings and meetings of an extremist organization, conducting conversations with residents of Chelyabinsk, demonstrating and watching educational videos."

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    September 8, 2022 Search

    Yevgeny Bushev is visiting a friend when they come to him with a search. Yevgeniy is taken home, where a search takes place from 22:00 to 23:40. The security forces seized several Bibles, computer equipment, electronic media and personal records.

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    September 9, 2022 Recognizance agreement

    Investigator Chepenko takes Yevgeniy's recognizance not to leave.

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    July 11, 2023 Art. 282.2 (1)

    The article of the charge is reclassified as organizing the activities of an extremist organization (part 1 of article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation).

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    August 24, 2023 Case went to court

    The case goes to the Kalininsky District Court of Chelyabinsk. It will be considered by judge Anton Erofeev. The first hearing is scheduled for September 20.

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    September 20, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    At the first hearing, the accusation and the attitude of the defendant towards it are announced.

    The prosecutor reads out a transcript of audio recordings of conversations between the defendant and the informant, as well as correspondence in the messenger. In his speech, Bushev refers to the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation and the decisions of the ECHR, justifying the legality of his actions.

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    September 26, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The court hears the testimony of Manturov, an operative of the Center "E", as well as Denis Polikarpov, an employee of the National Guard, who portrayed an interest in the Bible. Polikarpov tells the court about how he infiltrated the ranks of believers and what methods of audio and video recording he used. The prosecution reads out the transcripts of his notes.

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    October 10, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    24 out of 25 people who came to support the believer are allowed into the hall.

    The judge does not prevent Bushev from exercising the right not to testify against himself and his relatives during his testimony. He is also interested in how to properly emphasize the name Jehovah.

    The defendant talks about his faith. He also objects to the linguistic expertise. According to Bushev, the conclusion that he persuaded Polikarpov's informant to accept his faith is based on phrases taken out of context.

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    October 25, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance Prosecutor requested punishment Closing arguments for the defense

    Yevgeny Bushev reads out his written notes and asks the prosecutor and the court to find in the case file and announce his words about the call for the overthrow of the constitutional order, about inciting hatred or destroying families - there is nothing like this among the "evidence" of Bushev's guilt.

    The court shall proceed to the pleadings of the parties. The prosecutor draws attention to the results of a psycholinguistic religious examination, which, in her opinion, proves Yevgeny's guilt in the creation and continuation of the activities of an extremist organization. The defendant objects, noting that his name was not indicated in any of the legal documents available to law enforcement officers.

    The prosecutor asks for a punishment for the believer in the form of 6 years in a general regime colony. The prosecution repeats more than once, including to the audience in the hall, incorrect information that the religious organization "Jehovah's Witnesses" is banned on the territory of the Russian Federation.

    The lawyer, speaking in the debate, emphasizes that the decision of the Supreme Court of April 20, 2017 concerns only the liquidation of legal associations and that the confession itself is not prohibited, and believers have the right to exercise the right to freedom of religion, guaranteed by Article 28 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation. The defense asks to find Bushev innocent.

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    November 3, 2023 In the courtroom Final statement First Instance Sentence

    Evgeny Bushev makes his final statement. There are about 15 listeners in the hall.

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    November 7, 2023 Art. 282.2 (2) First Instance Sentence Expert studies with violations Deprivation of liberty
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    November 8, 2023 Detention center

    It turns out that Yevgeny Bushev is in pre-trial detention center No. 1 in Chelyabinsk. He can write letters.

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    December 1, 2023 Detention center

    The believer has been held in a pre-trial detention center for about a month awaiting an appeal. He has good relations with the administration of the colony and his cellmates. He exercises regularly. Bushev has a Bible. Twice a week he is given letters, which he reads with pleasure.

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    April 25, 2024 Court of Appeal Art. 282.2 (1) Deprivation of liberty