The case of Yevstigneev in Nizhny Novgorod

Case History

Kirill Yevstigneev is one of the Nizhny Novgorod believers who were searched by armed security forces in July 2019. A year later, he became a defendant in a criminal case on financing the activities of an extremist organization due to the fact that he entered into a lease agreement for a room for a friendly meeting with fellow believers. A secret video and audio recording was made for the believer. Later, investigator Makerov took a written undertaking not to leave Yevstigneev. In addition, Kirill Evstigneev was included in the list of terrorists and extremists of Rosfinmonitoring. His bank accounts were blocked. At the end of September 2021, the believer’s case was submitted to the Leninsky District Court of Nizhny Novgorod, and in May 2022, Judge Viktor Ushakov sentenced the believer to 3 years of suspended sentence. The appellate court upheld the verdict on August 1, 2022.

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    June 4, 2019

    O. V. Makerov, Senior Investigator for Internal Affairs of the Main Investigative Directorate of the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the Nizhny Novgorod Region, initiates a criminal case against unidentified persons under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. The reason is that in April 2019, local Jehovah's Witnesses rented a conference room of one of the Nizhny Novgorod stores for 6 hours for a friendly meeting.

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    July 11, 2019

    Judge of the Leninskiy District Court Sergey Glushkov issues a search order at the place of residence of Jehovah's Witness Kirill Yevstigneev.

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    July 17, 2019 Search
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    August 18, 2020

    The believer comes for interrogation to the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the Nizhny Novgorod region, where he is summoned by telephone by the UEEX investigator Urbezov. The investigation is interested in the lease agreement, which Evstigneev concluded in 2019. The believer uses Article 51 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

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    September 2, 2020

    The Ministry of Internal Affairs for the Nizhny Novgorod Region initiates a criminal case against Kirill Yevstigneev, accusing him of financing extremist activities (Part 1 of Article 282.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation).

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    August 24, 2021

    Investigator of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Makerov chooses Kirill Evstigneev a measure of restraint in the form of a written undertaking not to leave.

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    September 28, 2021

    The case goes to the Leninsky District Court of Nizhny Novgorod.

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    October 8, 2021

    Judge of the Leninsky District Court Viktor Ushakov proceeds to consider the case. The prosecutor reads out the indictment.

    Kirill Yevstigneev expresses his disagreement with the accusation. He explains that he never acted out of extremist motives. For 23 years he has believed in God and lives according to the biblical commandments, one of which encourages him to love his neighbors. Kirill says: "It is impossible to combine love and extremism. I consider all people equal and respect the right of every person to have their own views and beliefs." The believer explains that he is a law-abiding citizen and pays all taxes: "Even in the current situation, when a criminal case has been initiated against me and my bank account has been blocked ... I don't owe any taxes." Furthermore, he states that the event he is accused of financing was a meeting of friends and was not of a religious nature.

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    December 7, 2021 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    Prosecution witness Grichanyuk, the landlord of the premises, is being interrogated. She states that she was approached by some people with a request to install equipment for hidden video and audio recording in the office where the lease agreement was concluded. At the same time, she does not know what event took place in the rented hall, who those present were. According to the witness, she assumed that the audience were relatives.

    The prosecutor additionally examines the protocols of the interrogation of the witness: the rental price declared at the meeting differs from that indicated in the interrogation protocol.

    It turns out that the video recordings attached to the case are stored in another criminal case, so it is not possible to view them. Kirill Yevstigneev declares that he will give his testimony only after studying the video materials and written materials of the case.

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    December 24, 2021

    Kirill Evstigneev is changing his lawyer by appointment.

    At the request of the defendant, written and video materials are being examined.

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    January 13, 2022

    At the court session, the believer testifies. The lawyer submits a motion to return the case to the prosecutor, but the judge rejects it. The prosecutor requests an adjournment of the hearing because he needs to prepare for the debate.

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    February 8, 2022 Prosecutor requested punishment

    In the Leninsky District Court of Nizhny Novgorod, the debate on the case of Kirill Evstigneev has ended.

    The prosecutor is requesting a sentence of 6 years in prison for the believer because of his faith in Jehovah God.

    At the next court session, the believer will deliver the last word. A verdict in this case is also planned.

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    May 12, 2022 First Instance Sentence

    Judge of the Leninsky District Court of Nizhny Novgorod Viktor Ushakov sentences Kirill Evstigneev to 3 years of suspended imprisonment.

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    August 1, 2022 Court of Appeal

    The Nizhny Novgorod Regional Court, chaired by Judge Olga Yaroshenko, upholds the sentence of Kirill Yevstigneev - 3 years of suspended imprisonment for believing in Jehovah God.