Case of Andreyev and Others in Kursk

Case history

In October 2019, the FSB initiated a criminal case against Andrey Andreyev, Artem Bagratyan and his wife Alevtina. Andreyev was accused of organizing the activity of an extremist organization, while the others were accused of participating in it. They were placed in a detention center. Later, another believer, Andrey Ryshkov, was arrested. At the end of 2020, Alevtina Bagratyan was transferred to house arrest. Artem Bagratyan suffers from diabetes and other chronic diseases; his condition required inpatient treatment, which he was denied by the management of the detention center. In June 2021, the court sentenced: Andrey Andreyev to 4.5 years in a penal colony, Andrey Ryshkov - 3 years in a penal colony, Artem Bagratyan - 2.5 years in a penal colony and his wife, Alevtina - 2 years in a penal colony. Aleksandr Vospitanyuk was given a 2-year suspended sentence. In January 2022, the court of appeal, and a year later, the court of cassation, upheld this decision. All of the believers have already served their terms.

  • #
    September 12, 2019

    Maksim Zaitsev, Senior Investigator of the Kursk Region FSB Directorate of the Kursk Region of the Russian Federal Security Service initiates criminal cases for faith under Articles 282.2 (1) and 282.2 (2). Innocent victims of law enforcement officers are: Andreev Andrey (born in 1976), Bagratyan Artyom (born in 1972), Bagratyan Alevtina (born in 1977).

  • #
    September 20, 2019

    Demidov, head of the SO of the FSB Directorate for the Kursk Region, combines criminal cases against three believers into one.

  • #
    October 16, 2019

    Mass searches and interrogations of believers are underway in Kursk. Early in the morning, the security forces come to the homes of Oleksandr Vospitanyuk, Andrey Ryshkov, the Bagratyans couple and Andrey Andreev. Believers are taken away for interrogation.

    Andrey Andreyev, as well as spouses Artem and Alevtina Bagratyan were arrested. The believers were remanded in custody until November 11, 2019.

  • #
    October 18, 2019 Search
  • #
    October 23, 2019 Search
  • #
    November 7, 2019 Search
  • #
    December 26, 2019

    The lawyer visits Artem Bagratyan in the pre-trial detention center. His condition is depressing. Doctors forbid him to take effective medicines, prescribing ineffective analogues.

  • #
    December 27, 2019

    A court hearing on the measure of restraint for Bagratyan. He becomes ill right during the trial. Artem calls an ambulance. Despite the defendant's well-being, Judge Pozdnyakova extends his arrest until March 11, 2020

  • #
    January 2, 2020 Search
  • #
    January 16, 2020

    Investigator Maksim Zaitsev initiates a criminal case against Andrey Ryshkov under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (participation in the activities of an extremist organization).

  • #
    January 17, 2020

    Investigator Maksim Zaitsev initiated a criminal case against Aleksandr Vospitanyuk (born in 1979), the father of two minor children, under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (participation in the activities of an extremist organization).

  • #
    January 21, 2020

    Two believers were detained: Andrey Ryshkov, 32, and Aleksandr Vospitaniuk, 41. They are interrogated, prosecuted and placed in a temporary detention facility.

  • #
    January 23, 2020

    The Leninsky District Court of Kursk elects a measure of restraint in the form of detention for Andrey Ryshkov, and a written undertaking not to leave for Alexander Vospitanyuk.

  • #
    February 12, 2020

    A woman is being interrogated who, pretending to be interested in the Bible, kept a record of conversations with Alevtina and passed information to FSB officers. The agent gives contradictory testimony, saying that she was "disappointed" in some of the beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses, and at the same time would be ready to continue to communicate with them on religious topics.

  • #
    February 15, 2020

    The judge rejects Alevtina Bagratyan's petition to request details of her telephone conversations. Thus, the believer wants to prove that during the period imputed to her she lived in another city and could not have been involved in the "crime".

    The materials of religious, linguistic and other examinations are studied. Their findings show that the believers did not speak negatively about the authorities or law enforcement agencies.

  • #
    April 30, 2020

    Judge of the Leninsky District Court of Kursk Tatyana Pozdnyakova, at the request of FSB investigator Maxim Zaitsev, decides to extend the detention of the believer until July 11, 2020. By this time, the total period of Artem's stay in the pre-trial detention center will be almost 9 months. The investigator submits to the court the decision to bring Bagratyan as an accused.

  • #
    July 7, 2020

    Judge of the Leninsky District Court of Kursk Tatyana Pozdnyakova again extends the period of detention of believers. Andrey Andreev, Artem Bagratyan and Alevtina Bagratyan will remain in the pre-trial detention center at least until September 11, 2020, Andrey Ryshkov - until September 9.

  • #
    August 11, 2020

    The Industrial District Court of Kursk receives a criminal case against believers Andrey Andreev, spouses Bagratyan and Andrey Ryshkov and Alexander Vospitanyuk. Within 14 days, Judge Oksana Ivanova must schedule a preliminary hearing or court hearing.

  • #
    September 21, 2020

    The Industrial District Court of Kursk is holding a hearing in the case of Andreev and others. Two dozen people come to the courthouse to support the believers.

    Assistant Prosecutor of the Seimas District O.A. Pikalova announces the charge. The defendants express their attitude towards him. Alevtina Bagratyan draws attention to the difference between Christian service to God and extremism. Andrei Ryshkov's lawyer calls what is happening "political repression." Andrey Andreyev explains to the court: "Is it possible to officially register an organization headed by God? Faith is not a company that needs to be registered, it cannot be put on paper.

  • #
    December 17, 2020

    The Kursk Regional Court is considering the appeal of Andrey Andreev, Andrey Ryshkov and spouses Artem and Alevtina Bagratyan against the measure of restraint. Alevtina Bagratyan is released from the pre-trial detention center under house arrest, the rest remain in custody.

  • #
    January 21, 2021

    The first volume of the case materials is being examined. The lawyer draws attention to the fact that the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation reveals the definition of extremism, and the prosecution clearly goes beyond this definition.

    Andrey Andreyev emphasizes that it is impossible to equate the LRO and a group of believers, citing the act of inspection of the LRO by the Ministry of Justice as evidence. The document states that the council of the organization has been convened only 11 times in three years, while meetings of believers are held regularly - 2 times a week.

  • #
    January 25, 2021

    Judge Oksana Ivanova partially satisfies the petition of Alevtina Bagratyan: she is allowed to communicate with her mother, but walks are still prohibited.

    Interrogation of a witness. When asked by her lawyer if she was aware of any cases where Jehovah's Witnesses had been prosecuted for committing violent crimes, she replied: "I am not aware, I believe that Jehovah's Witnesses have solved the problem of crime in their midst."

  • #
    January 26, 2021

    The testimonies of three witnesses who did not appear at the hearing are announced.

    The lawyer objects to watching the video of the service, since it took place on May 5, 2017, when the decision of the Supreme Court had not yet entered into force. The prosecutor and the judge agree.

  • #
    February 2, 2021

    Two witnesses are being questioned in court. One of them states that the interrogation during the preliminary investigation was conducted under pressure and retracts his testimony.

    The lawyer asks to soften the measure of restraint for the defendants, providing several addresses where they could be under house arrest. He also reminds the court of the norms of international law and asks that the Third Opinion of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the decision of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe be attached to the case file. Nevertheless, the judge grants the prosecutor's request to extend the detention of the defendants in the pre-trial detention center until May 10, 2021.

  • #
    February 16, 2021

    During interrogation in the courtroom, the witness retracts the testimony in the case. A video recording of his additional interrogation is being watched, in which the witness practically does not say anything. However, the record of this interrogation contains information that the witness did not report.

  • #
    February 24, 2021

    Judge Oksana Ivanova satisfies the repeated request to request the details of Alevtina Bagratyan's telephone conversations.

  • #
    March 1, 2021

    Once again, the state prosecutor is changing.

    At the meeting, the letters of Andrey Ryshkov's wife to the pre-trial detention center are being examined. They are mainly about everyday topics, but biblical texts are mentioned. Although the beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses are not prohibited in Russia, the investigator concludes: "The letters testify to the authors' attitude towards the religious organization and denomination of Jehovah's Witnesses," which, according to law enforcement officers, proves Ryshkov's guilt.

  • #
    April 5, 2021

    20 people, including nonresidents, come to the court session to morally support the defendants. Marina Ryshkova and Svetlana Andreeva are allowed into the hall, allowing them to approach the cage in which their husbands are.

    The judge rejects several defense motions, including two repeated linguistic examinations.

  • #
    April 12, 2021

    Spouses Ryshkova and Andreeva are allowed into the courtroom as listeners.

    At the meeting, a video recording of the worship service is viewed, two witnesses are interrogated. Both claim that the date of worship is not true. Andrey Andreyev testifies, resolutely denying guilt in extremism.

  • #
    May 7, 2021

    The judge does not allow listeners, including relatives of the defendants, to be present in the courtroom.

    Despite the defendants' requests for mitigation of the measure of restraint, the judge extends the believers' detention for another 3 months, until August 10, 2021.

  • #
    May 18, 2021 Prosecutor requested punishment

    During the debate, the prosecutor requested a punishment for believers in the form of real terms of imprisonment: for Andrey Andreev - 7.5 years, for Andrey Ryshkov - 4.5 years, for Alevtina Bagratyan - 4 years, for Artem Bagratyan - 3.5 years, for Alexander Vospitaniuk - 3.5 years in prison.

  • #
    May 25, 2021
  • #
    May 27, 2021
  • #
    May 28, 2021
  • #
    June 3, 2021 First Instance Sentence

    Oksana Ivanova, judge of the Industrial District Court of Kursk, finds all four believers guilty of violating extremist articles of the Criminal Code. Andrey Andreev was sentenced to 4.5 years in a penal colony, Andrey Ryshkov in the form of 3 years in a colony, Artem Bagratyan in the form of 2.5 years in a colony, his wife, Alevtina, in the form of 2 years in a colony. Their co-religionist Oleksandr Vospitanyuk received a 2-year suspended sentence.

  • #
    June 15, 2021

    Artyom Bagratyan is released from the pre-trial detention center. He served his sentence.

  • #
    July 15, 2021

    The lawyer visits Andrey Ryshkov and Andrey Andreev in the pre-trial detention center, who are awaiting consideration of the appeal against the verdict.

    Andreyev is being held in a six-bed cell without a refrigerator or a TV. He had presumably been ill with COVID-19, and also suffered a flux. The believer notes that the 15,000 letters of support he received prompted the administration of the pre-trial detention center to treat him with more respect. Andrey has a Bible, which he was able to get only after several appeals to the administration. Andreev tries to keep himself in good physical shape.

    Ryshkov is being held in a newly renovated cell. He receives letters of support, the number of which surprises the staff of the pre-trial detention center and cellmates. The believer also managed to get a Bible.

  • #
    January 20, 2022 Court of Appeal

    The Kursk Regional Court denies Andrey Andreyev, Andrey Ryshkov, Aleksandr Vospitanyuk, and Artem and Alevtina Bagratyan their appeals against their convictions. It comes into force.

    On the same day, Andrey Ryshkov leaves the pre-trial detention center, having served his sentence.

  • #
    March 17, 2022 Life in prison

    It becomes known that Andrey Andreev is in correctional colony No. 2 in Lipetsk. Probably, he will serve his sentence there. You can send him letters.

  • #
    April 5, 2022 Life in prison

    The lawyer visits Andrey Andreev in Penal colony No. 2 in Lipetsk. The believer was transported for 2 weeks along the route Kursk – Voronezh – Lipetsk.

    The conditions of detention in the detachment are normal: there is a shower with hot water, a refrigerator, a microwave and a TV. Andrey regularly communicates with his wife Svetlana via a payphone. Maintains a positive attitude, is in good physical shape. The prisoners treat him with respect.

    Andrey regularly, albeit less than in pre-trial detention, receives letters of support from Russia and other countries. First of all, he tries to respond to children, while often supplementing letters with his own drawings. Inmates and employees of the colony also show interest in correspondence.

  • #
    January 12, 2023 Court of Cassation
  • #
    February 22, 2023
  • #
    June 2, 2023

    Oleksandr Vospitanyuk served his main sentence — a suspended sentence of 2 years.