Case of Kobeleva in Lesozavodsk

Case History

In May 2020, in Lesozavodsk, officers of the Investigative Committee and the FSB conducted searches in 4 dwellings of believers, including Galina Kobeleva. Law enforcement officers opened a criminal case against Yevgeniy Grinenko. Soon Galina and her son Sergey became his defendants. The woman was included in the list of terrorists and extremists of Rosfinmonitoring. The accusation was based on the testimony of an embedded FSB agent Vladislav Mrachko, who communicated with Kobeleva, pretending to be interested in the Bible. In March 2021, the case of the believer was separated into separate proceedings in connection with her serious illness, and 7 months later it went to court. Despite the fact that the testimonies of 20 witnesses did not confirm the charges, and the examination was biased, in October 2022, the court found Galina guilty and sentenced her to 6 years of probation, which is exactly the punishment the prosecutor requested. The appellate court upheld the verdict.

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    May 12, 2020

    Employees of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, with the support of the FSB, conduct searches in the homes of local believers at at least four addresses. Among the victims are Galina Kobeleva and her son Sergey.

    Operational and investigative measures are being carried out within the framework of the criminal case against Yevgeniy Grinenko, who is sent under arrest on the same day.

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    March 8, 2021

    Acting Head of the Investigation Department for Lesozavodsk of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation O. V. Belyakova initiates a criminal case against Galina Kobeleva under Part 1 (organization), Part 1.1 (recruitment) and Part 2 (participation in the activities of an extremist organization) of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. On the same day, it is merged with the case of Yevhen Grinenko.

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    March 23, 2021

    Galina Kobeleva is included in the list of terrorists and extremists of Rosfinmonitoring.

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    April 7, 2021

    Lieutenant Colonel of Justice O. V. Belyakova, Acting Head of the Investigation Department for Lesozavodsk of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Primorsky Territory, chooses a preventive measure against Galina Kobeleva in the form of a written undertaking not to leave the place and proper behavior.

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    May 7, 2021

    Galina Kobeleva is charged under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, in the final version.

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    August 5, 2021

    In connection with the temporary serious illness of Galina Kobelev, her case is separated into a separate proceeding.

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    October 29, 2021

    Kobelev's case goes to the Lesozavodsky District Court of Primorsky Krai.

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    December 8, 2021

    December 8-9, 2021

    The case is being considered by Judge Sergei Galayuda. He asks Galina Kobeleva about her religious views. He is interested in whether she venerates icons, whether she wears a cross, how her religion differs from Orthodoxy, and what kind of Bible she reads.

    Galina Kobeleva expresses her attitude to the charges. The investigation accuses the believer of "assisting E. A. Grinenko in organizing meetings of the LRO of Jehovah's Witnesses in Lesozavodsk, acting as a coordinator." In particular, she is accused of maintaining the accounting document flow of the LRO.

    Galina replies that after the liquidation of the LRO, there was no need for such work. She also says: "Since 2017, there have been no meetings of the LRO of Jehovah's Witnesses in Lesozavodsk. Worship meetings were held—meetings of Jehovah's Witnesses. I have never assisted or coordinated these worship meetings, because according to the Bible, these are supposed to be done by men. These were meetings of fellow believers or worship services, which are in every denomination and are the right to profess any religion together with others - a right enshrined in Article 28 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

    The believer draws the court's attention to the actions of the infiltrated FSB agent Mrachko, whose testimony largely formed the basis of the accusation. She emphasizes that he himself took the initiative and asked to study the Bible with him, and also repeatedly said that he wanted to attend worship services.

    Kobeleva also refers to the decision of the Plenum of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of 10/28/2021: "Given [his] explanations, it cannot be considered a crime to read the Bible and spiritual literature, talk about one's faith, convene fellow believers for a peaceful, joint confession of the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses, when they gather together with others for worship."

    Prosecution witnesses are being questioned, including two FSB officers and two elderly parents of one of the defendants in the case, Yevgeny Grinenko.

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    January 13, 2022

    Another witness for the prosecution is a woman who is interested in the Bible. To all questions, including about the defendant's role in the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses, she answers: "I don't know."

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    January 14, 2022

    The court is interrogating Yevgeniy Grinenko, Sergey Kobelev and Svetlana Efremova. All of them are accused in the same criminal case, from which the case of Galina Kobeleva was eventually separated. All witnesses use Article 51 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

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    March 15, 2022

    Prosecution witness Detective Severin testifies. He explains to the court that the operative actions against Kobeleva were carried out in connection with her involvement in the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses.

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    April 5, 2022

    A prosecution witness is questioned, and the testimony of witnesses who did not appear in court and of a woman who has already died is read out.

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    April 6, 2022

    The materials of the case are being announced, including the documentation of the legal entity of Jehovah's Witnesses (LRO Jehovah's Witnesses in Lesozavodsk), which ceased to exist in 2017, long before the events imputed to Galina.

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    April 18, 2022 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    State prosecutor Roman Oleshkevich reads out the case materials. Protocols of searches, protocols of inspection of objects, including correspondence in instant messengers and by e-mail, are examined.

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    May 19, 2022 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The prosecutor continues to read out the materials of the criminal case, including the content of Galina Kobeleva's telephone conversations.

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    December 8–9, 2021 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    Prosecutor Elena Palagina reads out the materials of the case: Kobelev's correspondence with her daughter in instant messengers, as well as with Yevgeniy Grinenko by e-mail. The court examines the protocol of the search in the defendant's house and information about operational-search activities with the participation of the embedded FSB agent Vladislav Mrachko.

    The defendant testifies and reads out her written notes.

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    October 18, 2022 Prosecutor requested punishment Final statement Closing arguments for the defense

    At the court session, the arguments of the parties are held. The prosecutor requests a suspended sentence of 6 years for the defendant, with deprivation of the right to engage in activities related to leadership and participation in the work of public and religious organizations for a period of 3 years, and restriction of liberty for a period of 1 year.

    Galina Kobeleva gives her last word.

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    October 20, 2022
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    December 21, 2022
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    March 6, 2023

    The Lesozavodsky District Court of Primorsky Krai increases Galina's probationary period by 1 month.