Case of Moskalenko in Khabarovsk

Case history

On November 5, 2019, the Khabarovsk Regional Court handed down the final verdict in the case of Valeriy Moskalenko - a fine of 500,000 rubles. Previously, the Zheleznodorozhny District Court sentenced the peaceful believer to 2 years and 2 months of forced labor and 6 months of restricted freedom. The believer was charged under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code on the grounds that on April 21, 2018, he, “acting intentionally”, “with observance of conspiracy measures”, participated in a worship service of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The believer was thrown behind bars in August 2018 after the Khabarovsk FSB searched Valeriy’s home in his absence. For more than a year, the elderly single mother was deprived of her son’s support. In court, the expert stated that the words from Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, which Moskalenko discussed among fellow believers, “are evidence of exclusivity propaganda and a call to continue the activities of a banned organization.” The prosecution also relied on the testimony of a witness, who stated in court that he did not know Valeriy and did not sign the interrogation protocol. The believer does not agree with the verdict and is appealing to the European Court of Human Rights.

  • #
    August 1, 2018

    Senior investigator-criminalist of the Investigation Department of the FSB of Russia in the Khabarovsk Territory, Senior Lieutenant of Justice D. Pozdnyakov, having considered the report of the crime, decides to initiate a criminal case against Valery Moskalenko on the grounds of a crime under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

    The deputy head of the investigation department of the FSB of Russia in the Khabarovsk Territory, Captain of Justice M. Eremin, entrusts the production to an investigation team headed by a senior investigator-criminalist of the investigative department of the FSB of Russia in the Khabarovsk Territory, Senior Lieutenant of Justice D. Pozdnyakov.

    Judge of the Railway Court of Khabarovsk Svetlana Zherebtsova makes a decision to allow a search of Moskalenko's apartment.

  • #
    August 2, 2018

    At about 11:00 a.m., a search of Moskalenko's apartment begins in his absence. Valery himself comes home at about 12:00, after which the search continues until about 16:00. Then he was detained, taken to the investigation department, interrogated as a suspect. Protocols of detention and interrogation have been drawn up.

    Investigator D. Pozdnyakov makes a decision to bring Moskalenko as an accused and obtain voice samples from him. He was questioned as an accused. A record of the interrogation of the accused has been drawn up.

    Searches are being conducted at five addresses where believers live.

  • #
    August 3, 2018

    Judge of the Railway Court of Khabarovsk Natalia Firsova makes a decision on the election of a measure of restraint for Valery Moiseenko in the form of detention for a period of 1 month 29 days, i.e. until 01.10.2018.

  • #
    August 16, 2018

    A search is underway at the home of a family of believers.

  • #
    August 20, 2018

    The judge of the Khabarovsk Regional Court, Lyubov Volkova, decides to leave the measure of restraint unchanged, the complaints of lawyers - without satisfaction.

  • #
    September 26, 2018

    The judge of the Zheleznodorozhny District Court of Khabarovsk, Natalia Taranushchenko, makes a decision to extend the period of detention for 2 months, i.e. until 01.12.2018.

  • #
    October 8, 2018

    The judge of the Khabarovsk Regional Court, Valentina Nem, makes a decision to cancel the decision of the Zheleznodorozhny District Court of Khabarovsk dated 09/26/2018 and to make a new decision to extend the period of detention for 2 months, i.e. until 12/01/2018 (the preventive measure is the same).

  • #
    November 23, 2018

    The judge of the Zheleznodorozhny District Court of Khabarovsk, Aleksey Gorlach, makes a decision to extend the period of detention for 2 months, i.e. until 01.02.2018.

  • #
    December 3, 2018

    The judge of the Khabarovsk Regional Court Maxim Vergasov makes a decision to cancel the decision of the Zheleznodorozhny District Court of Khabarovsk to extend the period of detention by 2 months, i.e. until 01.02.2018 and to make a new decision to extend the period by 2 months, and in total up to 5 months 29 days, i.e. until 01.02.2018 (the measure of restraint is the same).

  • #
    December 18, 2018

    The complaint "Moskalenko v. Russia" was sent to the European Court of Human Rights with a request to consider it as a priority in accordance with the policy of the Strasbourg Court.

  • #
    January 22, 2019

    The judge of the Zheleznodorozhny District Court of Khabarovsk, Tatyana Toropenko, makes a decision to extend the period of detention for 2 months, i.e. until 01.04.2019.

  • #
    January 28, 2019

    The judge of the Kirovsky District Court of Khabarovsk, Sergey Babiy, issues a decree on the seizure and inspection of postal and electronic items in the name of Moskalenko.

  • #
    February 25, 2019

    A petition was filed to restore the deadline for filing an appeal against the arrest of Moskalenko's correspondence.

    An appeal was filed against the decision to seize and inspect postal and electronic items in the name of Moskalenko.

  • #
    February 26, 2019

    The judge of the Kirovsky district court Babiy makes a decision on the restoration of the procedural period for appealing the decision to seize and inspect postal and electronic items in the name of Moskalenko.

  • #
    March 28, 2019

    The judge of the Zheleznodorozhny District Court of Khabarovsk, Ivan Belykh, makes a decision to extend the period of detention for 2 months, i.e. until 05/31/2019.

  • #
    April 4, 2019

    The judge of the Khabarovsk Regional Court, Alexander Ermolaev, issues a decree on the seizure of postal items and electronic messages addressed to Moskalenko and the production of their inspection.

  • #
    April 29, 2019

    Investigator D. Pozdnyakov makes a decision to bring Valery Moskalenko as an accused. He was charged under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

  • #
    May 28, 2019

    The judge of the Zheleznodorozhny District Court I. Belykh makes a decision to extend the period of detention for 2 months, i.e. until 07/31/2019. Valery Moskalenko will be in custody for almost a year.

  • #
    July 8, 2019

    Hearings on the merits of the charges begin in the Zheleznodorozhny District Court. A preliminary hearing is being held under the chairmanship of Judge I. Belykh.

    The court rejected all the motions of the defense and extended the term of detention of V. Moskalenko for 6 months.

  • #
    July 18, 2019

    The court session is devoted to the announcement of the charges by the state prosecutor A. Uvarova. After that, the state prosecutor proposed to interrogate a secret witness who, in the opinion of the investigation, could tell about the continuation of V. Moskalenko's activities in an extremist organization. The witness testified that the concept of a local religious organization first appeared after April 21, 2017, this concept had never existed before and Jehovah's Witnesses were considered a worldwide religious organization.

  • #
    July 24, 2019

    The hearing is devoted to the questioning of prosecution witnesses. The state prosecutor was replaced, the prosecution was supported by A. Grigorenko. During the interrogation of one of the witnesses, the latter told the court that he had not testified against V. Moskalenko and did not know him at all. He told the court that he did not sign the record of the interrogation of the witness. It is worth noting that on the basis of his alleged testimony, Moskalenko has been held in a pre-trial detention center for almost a year. Then, at the request of the prosecutor, the court viewed a video of a Bible study with believers in the Yerofey hotel complex.

  • #
    July 30, 2019

    The hearing is devoted to the questioning of prosecution witnesses who were supposed to recall that Valery Moskalenko used the rented premises in the spring of 2018 to conduct talks about the Bible. Witnesses gave contradictory testimony.

    The next hearing is scheduled for August 13, 2019.

  • #
    August 13, 2019

    The court hearing is devoted to the interrogation of prosecution witness Alena Paevshchik, an expert psychologist of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, who conducted a psychological and linguistic examination of video recordings of conversations about the Bible that Moskalenko conducted in April 2018. She considered that the words of Jesus Christ quoted by Valery Moskalenko from the Sermon on the Mount are proof of propaganda of exclusivity and calls for the continuation of the activities of the banned organization. In addition, Valeria Moskalenko's sister acted as a witness for the defense. In court, she explained that he was an example for her. She noticed that his faith had a positive effect on his brother.

    The next hearing is scheduled for August 15, 2019.

  • #
    August 15, 2019

    The court session began with the fact that the defense filed a motion to exclude evidence as inadmissible, namely examinations that were carried out with gross violations of the law. The court rejected the application. Then Moskalenko testified and explained to the court that his performance in the hotel complex "Yerofey" was peaceful. He discussed what Jesus Christ taught in the Sermon on the Mount. The next hearing is scheduled for August 28, 2019. The debate of the parties is expected to begin, during which it will become clear what punishment the prosecutor's office will request for Valery Moskalenko

  • #
    August 28, 2019

    The prosecutor said he was not ready for the debate. But he brought a religious scholar to the hearing, and the court agreed with the prosecutor's request for his interrogation. At the same time, the court denied both requests to the defense. First, the lawyers asked the court to attach to the case copies from various translations of the Bible, certified by the Khabarovsk library, proving that the words from the Gospel that Moskalenko quoted from the "Holy Scripture - New World Translation" are in all translations of the Bible. Secondly, the lawyers unsuccessfully requested that an extract from the Federal List of Extremist Materials (FSEM) be attached to the case, clearly showing that the "Holy Scripture - New World Translation" was included in the FSEM on July 27, 2018 (and the action imputed to Moskalenko took place in April of the same year).

    The beginning of the debate in the case was postponed to August 30, 2019 at 14:00 (local time). During the debate, the prosecutor will announce what, in the opinion of the prosecutors, Valery Moskalenko deserves punishment for reading the Gospel. Probably, on the same day, Valery Moskalenko will address the court with the last word of the defendant.

  • #
    August 30, 2019
  • #
    September 2, 2019
    Judge Ivan Belykh orders that Moskalenko be sentenced to 2 years and 2 months of forced labor and 6 months of restricted freedom. The defense intends to appeal the verdict.
  • #
    October 10, 2019

    At 16:00, the Khabarovsk Regional Court began hearing on the appeal against the verdict against Valery Moskalenko. The defense filed motions, after which the court announced a break due to the end of working hours.

  • #
    November 5, 2019

    The Khabarovsk Regional Court commutes the sentence of Valery Moskalenko, replacing forced labor with a fine of 500 thousand rubles for reading an excerpt from Christ's Sermon on the Mount. Taking into account 396 days in the pre-trial detention center, the court exempts him from paying this fine.