The case of Gorbunov in Krasnoyarsk

Case History

About 2 years after the recordings of worship services of peaceful believers from Krasnoyarsk became available to the investigation, investigator Konstantin Zhuikov opened a criminal case. As a result, Anatoliy Gorbunov was accused of organizing the activities of an extremist organization. His house was searched twice. In January 2021, Gorbunov’s case went to court. For more than 10 sessions, Judge Maria Kunik listened to recordings of the defendant’s conversations about the Bible with an interested person, finding no calls to incite hatred or other crimes in the words of the believer. Despite the fact that the prosecution was never able to provide evidence of the believer’s guilt, in February 2022 the court found Anatoly Gorbunov guilty and sentenced him to 6 years in prison. In June, the appeal upheld this decision. In October 2022, the believer was taken to Penal Colony No. 31 in Krasnoyarsk to serve his sentence.

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    November 5, 2018

    The Zheleznodorozhny District Court of Krasnoyarsk allows the investigator to conduct an operational-search measure in the form of a survey of Anatoly Gorbunov's home.

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    November 7, 2018

    Early in the morning, Denis Filippov, a senior detective of the Center for Countering Extremism of the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia for the Krasnoyarsk Territory, under the guise of an examination, searches the apartment of Anatoly Gorbunov. Galina, Anatoly's wife, tells the details: the security forces, having woken up their neighbors in the stairwell, exerted psychological pressure on them, threatened to kick down the door, and also set up guards near the windows.

    During the search, a laptop, a tablet, two phones, a flash drive and a hard drive are seized. Later, at about 10:00 a.m., Anatoliy Gorbunov was brought for interrogation to the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation and released an hour later.

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    March 25, 2020

    Investigator of the Investigation Department for the Oktyabrsky District of Krasnoyarsk of the Main Investigation Department of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee for the Krasnoyarsk Territory and the Republic of Khakassia Zhuikov K.O. initiates criminal case No. 12002040005000014 under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation against Anatoly Gorbunov.

    According to investigators, Gorbunov's guilt lies in the fact that he organized religious meetings with fellow believers, which allegedly indicates the leadership of the activities of the banned organization.

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    March 31, 2020
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    September 12, 2020

    Judge Sergey Gruzdev at a meeting of the Oktyabrsky District Court with the participation of the senior assistant prosecutor of the Oktyabrsky district of Krasnoyarsk R. K. Vakhitov satisfies the petition of investigator K. O. Zhuikov to conduct a personal search of Anatoly Gorbunov in order to detect and seize objects and documents relevant to the criminal case.

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    September 15, 2020

    Investigator Zhuikov, in the presence of 2 witnesses and specialist Alexander Mironenko, conducts a personal search in the apartment of Anatoly Gorbunov. A bunch of 4 keys is taken from the believer, including the intercom and the apartment.

    In the protocol, the defense counsel and the suspect indicate that they do not agree with the search procedure.

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    December 22, 2020

    Investigator Konstantin Zhuikov completes the investigation of the criminal case against A. Gorbunov and submits the materials to the court.

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    February 9, 2021 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The first court hearing in the case is being held in the Oktyabrsky District Court of Krasnoyarsk. Judge Maria Kunik grants Anatoly Gorbunov's petition to refuse the state lawyer. The believer will be protected by a lawyer by agreement.

    Anatoliy expresses his attitude to the prosecution, quotes the statements of the Russian Federation that the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses is not prohibited and the demands of the European Court of Human Rights to stop the persecution of believers in Russia. He also mentions that the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of April 20, 2017 does not prohibit the activities of Jehovah's Witnesses as a religious denomination in general, and believers are not required to stop exercising their constitutional rights and freedoms. The prayers and reading of the Bible, which are imputed to Gorbunov, testify only to the usual forms of expression of faith, which never depended on the existence of any legal entity. The defendant also quotes from historical documents, drawing parallels between the persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in Nazi Germany as well as the Soviet Union and the wording in his indictment.

    Gorbunov asks to attach to the case file the resolution of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe of October 1, 2020; Views of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; documents confirming the persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in Germany and the USSR.

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    May 11, 2021

    A witness is being questioned by the prosecution. He states that the defendant organized all the services on his own. However, the witness may not repeat the information indicated in the record of his interrogation. After a series of clarifying questions from the defense, the witness insults the lawyer and refuses to answer his questions.

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    May 21, 2021

    A secret witness "Salov", who repeatedly attended religious meetings of Jehovah's Witnesses, made audio recordings and handed them over to law enforcement agencies, is being interrogated. The judge rejects the petition to declassify his identity.

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    June 7, 2021

    About 30 people come to support the accused, but only three are allowed into the courtroom.

    The lawyer challenges the prosecutor, referring to his bias in the case. The judge refuses.

    The characteristics of Anatoly Gorbunov from the district police officer and neighbors are read out. All of them speak positively about him.

    During the meeting, the case materials up to volume 7, including video files, are examined. Participants in the process note that they contain the encouragement of believers to prayer and reading the Bible.

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    August 2, 2021

    24 people come to support Gorbunov, but no one is allowed into the courtroom for reasons of sanitary and epidemiological well-being of those present. Anatoly reads out the attitude to the charge, stating that it remains unclear and devoid of specifics, in connection with which a petition is filed to return the case to the prosecutor. The believer does not admit guilt in extremism, emphasizing that the Supreme Court did not prohibit Jehovah's Witnesses from practicing their faith, and the right to read the Bible and pray is enshrined in the Russian Constitution in the form of a provision on freedom of religion.

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    August 6, 2021

    Judge Maria Kunik rejected the defense's motion to admit the audience to the hearing. The court begins to listen to CDs recording the defendant's Bible study with one of the local residents.

    The prosecutor changes in the case.

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    August 17, 2021

    35 people come to the courthouse to support the defendant.

    Before the start of the hearing, the judge notifies Gorbunov that he has received a letter in English sent to the address of the Oktyabrsky Court. It contains words of support for Anatoly and his wife.

    The court listens to one of the seven discs recording the discussion of the Bible.

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    August 30, 2021

    About 50 people come to support the believer. The court continues to listen to the recording of the Bible study.

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    September 2, 2021

    25 people come to the courthouse. The judge continues to review the video of the Bible study.

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    October 12, 2021

    19 people come to support Gorbunov. The court continues to listen to the recording of the Bible study.

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    November 29, 2021

    About 30 people come to the hearing. Listening to the Bible discussion continues.

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    December 3, 2021

    15 caring people come to support the defendant. Judge Kunick listens to the recording of the Bible study again.

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    December 10, 2021

    Friends once again support Anatoliy: 12 people come to the courthouse. The judge listens to the Bible study on record.

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    January 28, 2022 Prosecutor requested punishment

    The prosecutor asks the court to find Anatoliy Gorbunov guilty of extremism and sentence him to 8 years in a penal colony.

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    February 1, 2022 First Instance Sentence

    The court session is adjourned.

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    February 2, 2022 First Instance Sentence

    Judge Maria Kunik found Anatoliy Gorbunov guilty and sentenced him to 6 years in a penal colony.

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    June 21, 2022 Court of Appeal

    The panel of judges of the Krasnoyarsk Regional Court, chaired by Yuri Tsybulya, leaves the verdict on Anatoly Gorbunov unchanged.

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    June 22, 2022 Court of Appeal
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    October 13, 2022 Transfer of a prisoner Life in prison

    It becomes known that Anatoly Gorbunov was taken to the place of serving his sentence - IK-31 in the city of Krasnoyarsk.

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    April 27, 2023 Life in prison

    Anatoly Gorbunov's state of health is satisfactory, but the believer notes a deterioration in memory. He does not work in the colony, as he is an old-age pensioner. Recently, Anatoliy was given a long meeting with his wife.

    The believer receives many letters, he has the opportunity to read the Bible.

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    September 21, 2023 Life in prison Health risk Elderly Letters

    The emotional state of Anatoly Gorbunov is satisfactory, but there are health problems. For example, it is difficult for him to write - his arm hurts. Hearing deteriorates. The believer receives the necessary treatment, but not completely. His barracks are dirty, there are rats, there is often no hot water in the bath.

    Thanks to the transfer from his wife, Anatoliy now has warm clothes. But it is difficult for him to get permission to make phone calls: during the year of his stay in the colony, he was able to get only four out of twelve.

    Letters from friends from all over the world are a great support for Anatoly Gorbunov. He is especially pleased with letters with drawings and photographs.

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    February 5, 2024 Life in prison

    Anatoly Gorbunov maintains a positive attitude, wants to work, but due to his age he cannot engage in heavy physical labor. Has difficulty due to deteriorating hearing. He receives a lot of letters, he doesn't even have time to answer everything.