The case of Kalinnikova and Potapova in Kurilsk

Case History

In November 2023, in the city of Kurilsk and in the village of Reydovo, searches were carried out in the homes of two believing women, one of whom has a minor daughter. The criminal case against Olga Kalinnikova and Larisa Potapova was initiated a month earlier. They were accused of spreading the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Sakhalin region. After 5 months, the believers were also accused of involving a local resident in the activities of a banned organization. The women signed a recognizance agreement. In May 2024, their case went to court. At the first hearing on the merits of the case, the judge recused himself.

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    October 12, 2023 Case initiated Art. 282.2 (2)

    Kirill Deshko, investigator of the Korsakov Interdistrict Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, issues a decision to initiate a criminal case under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation against Larisa Potapova and Olga Kalinnikova.

    The ruling states: "In the course of the procedural check, it was established that since 2013, Potapova and Kalinnikova have been members of a religious organization, the Jehovah's Witnesses religious group, consisting of residents of the Sakhalin Region professing the faith of Jehovah's Witnesses."

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    November 12, 2023

    Judge of the Kurilsk District Court Nikita Kucherov orders searches of believers from Kurilsk and Reidovo.

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    November 23, 2023 Search Interrogation Recognizance agreement Case initiated Minors Art. 282.2 (2) Elderly

    Olga Kalinnikova and Larisa Potapova are being searched. They start early in the morning and last more than three hours. Kalinnikova's apartment at this time is a minor daughter. Electronic devices, flash drives, books, personal records, passports and photographs are seized from women.

    After the searches, the women are taken to the investigative committee for interrogation, which is conducted by investigator Deshko. In the presence of the school psychologist and her older brother, Kalinnikova's 13-year-old daughter is interrogated.

    Women are taken on a written undertaking not to leave and proper behavior and allowed to go home.

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    November 29, 2023 Art. 282.2 (2) Elderly

    Investigator Kirill Deshko issues a decision to bring Potapova and Kalinnikova as accused of participating in the activities of an extremist organization.

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    April 10, 2024 Case initiated Art. 282.2 (1.1) Elderly

    Another criminal case is being opened against Potapova and Kalinnikova under Part 1.1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (involvement of a person in the activities of an extremist organization) because they talked with a fellow villager on biblical topics.

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    April 12, 2024 Art. 282.2 (1.1) Elderly

    Investigator Deshko expands the indictment against Olga Kalinnikova and Larisa Potapova. He charges them with involving a person in the activities of an extremist organization.

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    May 30, 2024 Case went to court

    The case of Olga Kalinnikova and Larisa Potapova is submitted to the Kuril District Court of the Sakhalin Region for consideration by Judge Stepan Yakin.

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    July 4, 2024 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The sons of Kalinnikova and Potapova are present at the hearing. Judge Stepan Yakin establishes the identities of the defendants and then recuses himself.

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    July 8, 2024 Retrial (court of first instance)

    The case is transferred to another judge, Nikita Kucherov.