Case of Kupriyanov in Kovrov

Case History

Searches in the house of accountant Aleksey Kupriyanov took place twice - in February and July 2021. The Investigative Committee for the Vladimir Region initiated a criminal case against a believer for “participation in religious meetings.” The entire accusation is based on one quote from the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, spoken by Kupriyanov at a meeting. After Aleksey’s arrest, the health condition of his mother worsened, she is a group II disabled person. The believer, while he was behind the bars, couldn’t care for her anymore. He spent about four and a half months in pre-trial detention. There Aleksey faced inhumane treatment, and his health suffered seriously. In November 2021, Kupriyanov was transferred to house arrest. After another seven months, the court softened his preventive measure to the prohibition of certain actions. In September 2022, the case went to trial. In September 2023, the court found him guilty and sentenced him to prison, but the time was counted as time served during the investigation.

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    February 17, 2021

    Since 7:00 a.m., searches have been carried out in Kovrov at 7 addresses of Jehovah's Witnesses. 23 people are being interrogated.

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    June 28, 2021

    D. A. Tyumenev, senior investigator-criminalist of the FSB Directorate for the Vladimir Region, opens a criminal case against 48-year-old Alexei Kupriyanov for "participation in religious meetings" (part 2 of article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation).

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    July 8, 2021

    The security forces under the leadership of the senior FSB operative Captain Velichko come to the home of Alexei Kupriyanov in Kovrov. The believer is taken away for interrogation in Vladimir, and the investigative actions take place in the presence of Alexei's wife.

    Kupriyanov is accused of participating in peaceful worship services of Jehovah's Witnesses, which the investigation interprets as "committing a deliberate grave crime against the foundations of the constitutional order and security of the state."

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    July 12, 2021
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    August 24, 2021

    Judge of the Leninsky District Court of Vladimir Dmitry Kayushkin extends the detention of Aleksey Kupriyanov until November 27, 2021. The court does not take into account Aleksey's health problems, the need for special care for his mother, a disabled person of group II, and positive characteristics from colleagues and neighbors of the believer.

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    November 19, 2021

    The court changes the measure of restraint to Alexei Kupriyanov and releases him under house arrest. The believer spent almost 4.5 months in custody.

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    June 21, 2022 Prohibition of certain actions

    Alexei Kupriyanov is elected a new measure of restraint - a ban on certain actions. The believer is forbidden to leave the apartment.

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    September 15, 2022 Case went to court

    The case goes to the Kovrov City Court of the Vladimir Region. It will be considered by judge Irina Bubenina.

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    October 21, 2022 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    At a closed hearing, Judge Irina Bubenina asks the defendant and the prosecutor to be brief. So, Alexei Kupriyanov reads out only the beginning and end of his attitude to the accusation. Prosecutor Stanislav Lipynski fragmentarily reads out Volume I, which includes an examination of the case, as well as a transcript of the religious meeting, but their detailed consideration is postponed.

    Alexei expresses his feelings, speaking of the "medieval Inquisition", where people were tortured and killed only for reading "the wrong Bible and for preaching."

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    November 9 — 18, 2022 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    Over the course of three sessions, the court examines the case materials: the results of searches, protocols of inspection of technical means, as well as a disk containing recordings of the defendant's telephone conversations.

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    December 29, 2022 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    Since Judge Irina Bubenina has been working for the last day, Alexei Kupriyanov thanks her for her respectful attitude towards him. He also thanks the prosecutor and the secretary for their work.

    Alexei informs the court that he is no longer an individual entrepreneur, but takes care of his mother's 82-year-old disabled spouse.

    The court orders the extension of the preventive measure for the defendant in the form of a ban on certain actions until April 14, 2023.

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    January 18, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The judge provides a large courtroom, but allows only three listeners, including the defendant's wife, to be admitted.

    The prosecutor reads out the charges, then the judge gives Kupriyanov the opportunity to read out the attitude to the charges. He describes the conditions of detention in the pre-trial detention center: "Can you imagine a person who is forced to sit on the cold floor from 6 am to 10 pm? With my illness, I was only allowed to go to the toilet 2 times a day.

    According to Kupriyanov, former detective V.V. Voskoboynikov was with him in the cell, who, on the instructions of the pre-trial detention center, poured water on him 2-3 times a day in order to exert pressure. In addition, Aleksey tells the court that in the pre-trial detention center he was forbidden to read the Bible, pronounce the name of God, did not pass on letters, and threatened to involve his wife and son in the case.

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    February 14, 2023

    11 people come to support the accused, some come from another region. Kupriyanov asks the court to attach to the case file the ECHR Judgment of June 7, 2022, which acquitted Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia. The court shall attach the petition.

    The prosecutor continues to read out the materials of the case - he selectively reads the contents of volumes from the 5th to the 10th. During the announcement of the list of seized items from Kupriyanov and other believers, he often utters the phrase: "Of no interest to the investigation."

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    March 2, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    Judge Vyacheslav Kuznetsov satisfies the defendant's request to visit medical institutions for treatment. The prosecutor does not object. Also, certificates about the state of health of Kupriyanov and his relatives in need of his care are attached to the case.

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    March 16, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    24 people come to court to support the believer.

    The court grants the request to include excerpts from the Plenum of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation and other documents explaining that the divine services of Jehovah's Witnesses, their joint rituals and ceremonies do not in themselves constitute a crime under Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

    Further, the study of written evidence continues, the transcripts of the recording of the divine service and telephone conversations of Symonenkoand Adestov are read out.

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    March 31, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The study of the case materials continues. Among them is the conclusion of a psychological examination, which confirms that Kupriyanov has no mental disorders and a certificate stating that he is not registered in a neuropsychiatric dispensary.

    The court extends the defendant's ban on certain actions until July 14, 2023.

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    May 11, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    Kupriyanov petitions for the Holy Scriptures to be provided to him during the interrogations, since, according to him, this is the only book referred to by the investigation. The court refuses, explaining that it is not in the case file.

    The questioning of prosecution witnesses begins. The first woman uses Article 51 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, which gives her the right not to testify against herself and her loved ones. The judge satisfies the prosecutor's request for the disclosure of the testimony of the witness given during the investigation.

    In his testimony, another witness says that he is familiar with the defendant and has no personal hostility towards him, has no grounds for complaints. Also, he never heard calls for violence and religious intolerance from Kupriyanov. The man says that he attended the services of Jehovah's Witnesses regularly until 2017, and did it without coercion, voluntarily.

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    May 23, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance Interrogation

    The questioning of prosecution witnesses is ongoing. The woman says that she stopped attending meetings of believers in 2003, after which she did not meet Alexei Kupriyanov. She describes the activities of Jehovah's Witnesses as follows: "The main thing is to preach about the Bible." She says that she has never heard calls for violence or religious criticism from anyone at worship services.

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    June 6, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance Interrogation

    Reading out his testimony, Aleksey Kupriyanov draws the court's attention to the fact that the case file does not contain facts that would indicate that he incited enmity or hatred towards representatives of other religions.

    FSB officer Alexei Bordunov, who conducted operational-search activities, is being interrogated: wiretapping, secret audio recording with penetration into the dwelling, making inquiries, interviewing, examining objects and documents, examining buildings, structures, terrain, vehicles. He does not answer most of the questions, citing a bad memory.

    He baselessly claims that the LRO of Jehovah's Witnesses continues to operate in Kovrov, and Kupriyanov "was identified as one of the elders, among other things, took part in organizing and conducting meetings." The defender asks Bordunov to say what he means by a religious organization and for what purpose, in his opinion, people gathered. The witness recommends referring to the Charter of the liquidated legal entity.

    Kupriyanov asks: "The charter of the LRO says that one of the goals of the activity is to do good deeds. After the ban on LROs, can I do good deeds or not? Or will I be charged with it? Over the past 5 years, I, as an accountant, have opened about 100 accounts for clients - this is also written in the charter of the LRO - I can no longer open accounts for anyone, neither for myself nor for clients?" Bordunov finds it difficult to answer. Nor can he explain the difference between the LRO of Jehovah's Witnesses and the worship services of believers.

    The witness confirms that during the services the defendant Kupriyanov did not call for enmity or violence.

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    July 19, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    Aleksey Kupriyanov emphasizes that out of 39 audio files in the case file, only 5 are relevant to him.

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    September 5, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    Prosecutor Maxim Vavilov reads out the testimony of the defendant. Kupriyanov declares that the entire accusation against him is based only on the fact of participation in worship services, which are not prohibited by law. It recalls the explanations of the Plenum of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of October 28, 2021.

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    September 15, 2023 In the courtroom Hearing in a court of the first instance Deprivation of liberty Torture conditions in detention Letters Art. 282.2 (2) Final statement

    Alexei Kupriyanov gives his last word in court.