Case of Prianikov and Others in Karpinsk

Case history

In June 2018, Venera Dulova and Aleksandr Pryanikov were detained for talking about the Bible. A criminal case was opened against them under an extremist article. A year later, Daria Dulova became the third defendant in the case. In January 2020, they were sentenced to suspended sentences ranging from 1 year to 2.5 years. An appeal in Yekaterinburg overturned the verdict and returned the case to the court of first instance. This time, the prosecutor requested a more severe punishment, but the court duplicated the first verdict. In March 2022, the appellate court again overturned the verdict, acquitting the believers. The cassation court did not change this decision. However, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation overturned it in March 2023 and returned the case to the appeal stage, which returned the case to the prosecutor’s office, after which the cassation sent it for a new appeal hearing. A fourth appellate decision upheld the convictions of Aleksandr and Venera. Daria is exempt from criminal liability, as the statute of limitations has expired. All three believers are defendants in another criminal case for their faith.

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    April 19, 2016

    Alexander Pryanikov and Venera Dulova talk about religion with a person. During the conversation, the man's relative accuses them of theft and calls the police.

    Dulova and Pryanikov are taken to the police station, fingerprinted, inspected and seized religious literature in order to send it for examination.

    Believers give explanations about the activities of Jehovah's Witnesses.

    The material on the distribution of religious literature is registered in the register of reports of crimes under No. 2906.

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    April 28, 2016

    The initiation of a criminal case on the fact of distribution of literature was denied.

    From April 2016 to June 2018, there is no information about ongoing MPAs.

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    June 14, 2018

    Aleksandr Pryanikov and Venera Dulova were re-detained by the police while talking about biblical topics.

    During the interrogation, the believers refer to Article 51 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation. Phones, data carriers, and personal records are seized from them in order to check for extremist materials. Copies of passports and other documents were made, fingerprints were taken.

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    June 15, 2018

    Detectives of the Criminal Investigation Department and the FSB inspect the contents of the phone seized from Venera Dulova. A 40-page inspection report was drawn up.

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    July 5, 2018

    A religious study of the personal records and contents of the phones of Dulova and Pryanikov is being conducted. The study is carried out by Associate Professor of the Department of Theology of the Ural Mining University Alexei Starostin.

    The 15-page conclusion concludes:

    1) the submitted materials are of a religious nature;

    2) the materials presented are related to the teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses.

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    July 30, 2018

    Criminal case No. 11802650042000038 under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code against Aleksandr Pryanikov and Venera Dulova was initiated.

    The case is being investigated by the Investigative Department of the Krasnoturinsk SU of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Sverdlovsk Region.

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    July 31, 2018

    A judge of the Karpinsky City Court gives permission to search the homes of two believers: Venera Dulova and Aleksandr Pryanikov.

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    August 1, 2018

    During the search of Venera Dulova's apartment, phones, a laptop, storage media, books, notebooks, and photographs were seized. Employees behave quite correctly.

    On the same day, Venera Dulova and her 18-year-old daughter Daria Dulova were interrogated. They are subjected to psychological pressure in order to find out the whereabouts of Alexander Pryanikov. During the interrogation, a lawyer appointed is present.

    Senior investigator of the Investigation Department Sudin V.A. chooses a measure of restraint in relation to Venera Dulova in the form of a written undertaking not to leave and proper behavior. In the decision on the election of a measure of restraint Dulova is listed as a suspect.

    On the same day, searches were conducted at the dacha of V. Dulova's relatives and at the apartment of the Pryanikov family in their absence.

    During the interrogation, Venera and Darya Dulova are again pressured and intimidated by long prison terms. Daria is asked if her parents read religious literature. Venera Dulova signed a recognizance not to leave.

    During the search, nothing was seized from A. Pryanikov.

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    August 8, 2018

    An appeal is filed with the Judicial Collegium for Criminal Cases of the Sverdlovsk Regional Court by V. Dulova against the decision of the judge of the Karpinsky City Court of 31.07.2018 to allow a search of the home. The judicial collegium leaves the decision unchanged.

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    September 21, 2018

    Aleksandr Pryanikov, who is outside Karpinsk at the time of the initiation of the criminal case against him, voluntarily appears before the investigator S. Khmelenko and is interrogated as a suspect in the presence of a lawyer.

    With regard to Alexander Pryanikov, a preventive measure is chosen in the form of a written undertaking not to leave, and he is also given a copy of the decision to initiate a criminal case against him and other documents.

    FSB officers come to the places of residence of believers and subject them to interrogations, some are summoned for interrogation to the police station.

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    September 24, 2018

    The term of the preliminary investigation is extended until 30.10.2018.

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    December 20, 2018

    The term of the preliminary investigation is extended until 28.02.2019.

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    March 6, 2019

    Investigator Khmelenko S. informs the lawyer Dulova V. and Pryanikov A. about the appointment of psychological, religious and religious examinations and sends him decisions on the appointment of examinations for review.

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    March 14, 2019

    Pryanikov A. and Dulova V. submit to Khmelenko S. A. petitions for the implementation of rights in the appointment of examinations.

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    March 26, 2019

    The Investigative Department for Krasnoturyinsk, represented by S. Khmelenko, instructs the head of OP No. 32 of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia "Krasnoturyinsky" to conduct a complex of ORM.

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    05.04.2019 — 06.04.2019

    Investigator S. Khmelenko and unidentified persons in civilian clothes interrogate Natalia Blum and Ruslan Zalyayev.

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    April 16, 2019

    In accordance with the decision of the judge of the Karpinsky City Court, A. Pryanikov is being searched in the presence of 3 FSB officers, an investigator and two other officers. Almost all electronic devices were seized, and the car was searched. Aleksandr Pryanikov's wife, Anastasia, was interrogated.

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    April 17, 2019 Search
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    April 22, 2019

    Since the appeal against the search of A. Pryanikov is not satisfied, he sends a cassation appeal to the Presidium of the Sverdlovsk Regional Court.

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    April 23, 2019

    The term of the preliminary investigation is extended until 30.06.2019.

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    May 30, 2019

    Khmelenko S. makes a decision to merge the criminal cases into one case.

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    June 26, 2019

    The term of the preliminary investigation is extended until 30.07.2019.

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    July 22, 2019

    A. Pryanikov is involved in a criminal case and interrogated as an accused. V. Dulova is also being prosecuted and interrogated as a defendant in the case.

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    July 23, 2019

    Dulova V. and Pryanikov A. were chosen as a preventive measure in the form of a written undertaking not to leave. They file petitions for familiarization with the materials of the criminal case.

    Darya Dulova was summoned for questioning as a suspect.

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    July 24, 2019

    The procedural status of Daria Dulova changes, and she is involved in a criminal case as an accused, interrogated, and a preventive measure in the form of a written undertaking not to leave is chosen for her. Dulova D. submits a petition for familiarization with the materials of the criminal case.

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    July 30, 2019

    Dulova V., Dulova D. and Pryanikov A. are familiarizing themselves with the materials of the case under Article 217 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Federation.

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    August 3, 2019
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    August 9, 2019

    The prosecutor of the city of Karpinsk approved the indictments against A. Pryanikov, V. Dulova and D. Dulova, which were handed to them.

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    August 19, 2019
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    September 9, 2019
    Preliminary hearing on the case. The accused Pryanikov A., Dulova V. and Dulova D. plead not guilty. Submit motions for the return of the criminal case to the prosecutor, for the termination of the criminal case and for the exclusion of evidence. To familiarize the parties with the petitions, the hearing is postponed to September 12.
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    September 12, 2019
    The court rejected all three motions. The next meeting will be held on 16 and 18 September. Witnesses are scheduled to be questioned on September 18.
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    January 20, 2020

    Debate in the Karpinsky City Court. The presiding judge is Gabbasova S.V. The prosecutor asks for 3 years of probation and 3 years of probation for Alexander Pryanikov and Venera Dulova; for Daria Dulova - 2 years of probation and 2 years of probation.

    The sentencing is expected on January 27 at 9:30 a.m.

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    January 21, 2020
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    January 24, 2020
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    January 27, 2020

    The Karpinsky City Court of the Sverdlovsk Region sentences: Aleksandr Pryanikov — 2.5 years suspended with a correctional term of 2.5 years; Venera Dulova — 2 years probation with a correctional term of 2 years; Darya Dulova — 1 year probation with a correctional term of 1 year. All three are additionally forbidden to visit crowded places and change their place of residence. When changing jobs, it is necessary to notify the supervisory authorities. Twice a month it is necessary to report to the police. The believers intend to appeal.

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    February 18, 2020

    Vladimir Sudedan, Senior Investigator of the Investigative Department for Krasnoturyinsk of the Investigative Committee of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, initiates criminal cases against Venera and Daria Dulov and Alexander Pryanikov under Part 1.1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. It was he who had previously initiated the criminal prosecution of three believers, which eventually turned into suspended sentences for them. The decisions to initiate criminal cases include secret witnesses, according to whom the believers allegedly involved them "in the activities of a banned religious organization." The investigation of the second case of Pryanikov and others in Karpinsk begins.

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    August 6, 2020 Court of Appeal

    The Sverdlovsk Regional Court in Yekaterinburg overturns the convictions of all three, returning the case to the court of first instance for consideration by another court.

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    September 8, 2020

    Judge of the Karpinsky City Court of the Sverdlovsk Region Vera Bazueva schedules a hearing on September 29, 2020 in criminal case No. 11802650042000038 against Alexander Pryanikov, Venera and Daria Dulov.

    The criminal case will be re-considered after the cancellation of the conviction by the court of appeal, issued more than 9 months ago.

    Believers will have to defend their constitutional right to freely practice their religion in court for the third time.

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    September 29, 2020 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    There are repeated hearings in the criminal case against believers in the Karpinsky City Court. The case is being considered by judge Vera Bazueva.

    The defendants do not admit their guilt and emphasize that the accusation is unfounded and fabricated. They never had anything to do with extremism and were not members of banned organizations. Believers pay attention to the absence of victims. "Participation in the sermon is my personal desire," says Alexander Pryanikov. "I studied the Bible and learned a lot from it. I found tips that help strengthen families and make marriages happier."

    The prosecutor reads out the charges.

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    September 30, 2020

    Interrogation of witnesses. Prosecution witness Yulia Gorshkova works in law enforcement. Confirms that the defendants did not commit unlawful acts, and the law does not prohibit them from preaching their religion. Another employee, Yevgeny Podoynitsyn, finds it difficult to explain what the believers' guilt is.

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    November 18, 2020

    Experts from the Ural Federal University are being questioned in court. Starostin Alexei Nikolaevich, candidate of historical sciences, Islamic scholar, reports that he examined materials seized during the searches: books, disks with videos and photos. Almost all of the materials he examines contain quotations from the Bible. The expert confirms his cooperation with the Orthodox Academy in St. Petersburg, and refuses to explain what research he did about Jehovah's Witnesses, citing a non-disclosure agreement. Starostin confirms that Jehovah's Witnesses do not call for undermining the constitutional order, for rallies, etc.

    4 prosecution witnesses are also being questioned.

    During the interrogation of witnesses, the prosecutor asks questions about whether the witnesses understood the purpose of the defendants' arrival, whether they remember well the essence of the conversation, the date of the meeting, the fact of being invited to any religious organization. None of the witnesses can give a definite answer, since no one can remember exactly who, why and when came to them.

    One of the witnesses says that he identified the defendant by the color of her hair, and at the same time he states that he does not remember well the events of that day and the interrogation of the investigator, where the investigator showed him black and white photographs of the suspects. Also, he cannot confirm his testimony, since he did not read them, but simply signed the document, relying on the honesty of the investigator.

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    January 21, 2021

    Interrogation of the secret witness "Osokina". Answering the questions of the defendants and the defense counsel, she cannot explain what exactly the Supreme Court banned in 2017, she cannot remember exactly how many times and when she attended the services of Jehovah's Witnesses, what topics were discussed there, and at what address they took place. According to her, the believers did not cause any harm to either her or her property. The witness cannot give examples of unlawful actions on the part of A. Pryanikov.

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    January 22, 2021

    This is the second time that three invited prosecution witnesses have not appeared at the hearing, despite the fact that they have been forcibly summoned.

    The next hearing will be held on February 16 at 10:00 a.m. The remaining witnesses will be questioned and the written case file will be examined.

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    May 14, 2021 Prosecutor requested punishment

    The prosecutor recommends to the court a real term of punishment for believers who are charged with peaceful worship services consisting of a discussion of the Bible: for Venera and Alexander - 3 years of imprisonment in a colony, for Daria - 2 years of probation. In January 2020, at the first hearing of the case, the prosecutor asked for suspended sentences for all three.

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    May 28, 2021 Prosecutor requested punishment

    The debate of the parties is taking place. The defender and defendant Alexander Pryanikov speaks.

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    June 16, 2021 Final statement

    The defendants' closing statement and the announcement of the verdict shall be postponed.

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    July 13, 2021 First Instance Sentence Final statement

    Alexander Pryanikov, Venera and Daria Dulov, speaking in court with the last word, do not admit guilt in extremism. At the next hearing, the court intends to announce the verdict.

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    July 15, 2021 First Instance Sentence

    The verdict is announced: Aleksandr Pryanikov - 2 years and 6 months of suspended imprisonment with a probationary period of two years, Venera Dulova - 2 years of suspended imprisonment with a probationary period of two years, Darya Dulova - 1 year of suspended imprisonment with a probationary period of one year.

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    February 4, 2022 Court of Appeal

    The defendants' closing statement and the announcement of the verdict shall be postponed.

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    March 15, 2022 Court of Appeal

    The Sverdlovsk Regional Court overturns the convictions of Aleksandr Pryanikov, Venera and Darya Dulov, finding them not guilty.

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    September 15, 2022
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    January 24, 2023

    The Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation appeals to the Supreme Court with a complaint against the appeal verdict and cassation ruling, which acquitted Venera and Daria Dulov and Alexander Pryanikov.

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    March 14, 2023
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    May 2, 2023 Court of Appeal

    The Sverdlovsk Regional Court is holding an appeal hearing in this criminal case for the third time. The meeting is attended by about 20 listeners. The case is being considered by a panel of judges: Margarita Bratanchuk, Andrey Kalinin and Kristina Uporova.

    The meeting was adjourned.

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    May 29, 2023 Court of Appeal

    About 25 people come to the hearing in 32-degree heat to support the believers. The hearing is postponed again, as Venera Dulova needs a new hearing aid to fully participate in the trial.

    The court satisfies the defense's request for photographing and filming of the hearings.

    The prosecution is requesting the summoning and interrogation of the classified witness Osokina, since for unknown reasons her testimony is not in the record of the interrogation in the court of first instance. In turn, the Karpinsky City Court reports that the testimony of the witness was restored. The judge explains that the parties have the right to familiarize themselves with these statements and, if necessary, to submit comments on them.

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    July 6, 2023
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    November 8, 2023 Second cassation appeal Believers with a disability Prosecution of several family members

    The Seventh Court of Cassation of General Jurisdiction in Chelyabinsk cancels the decision of the Sverdlovsk Regional Court to return the criminal case to the prosecutor and sends the case for a new appeal to the same court with a different composition. Thus, the court refuses to satisfy the prosecutor's request to change the territorial jurisdiction, that is, to send the case for a new appeal to another court in the territory of the Seventh Court of Cassation.

    The prosecutor sought to transfer the case to a court on the territory of another subject of the Russian Federation. According to the state prosecutor, "there are circumstances that cast doubt on the objectivity and impartiality of the Sverdlovsk Regional Court." However, the cassation court considers the prosecution's arguments insufficient.

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    February 8, 2024 Second appeal Art. 282.2 (2) Suspended sentence Believers with a disability Prosecution of several family members

    Sverdlovsk Regional Court (Yekaterinburg, Moskovskaya Street, 120). Time: 10:30.