The case of Yeritsyan and Others in Novocherkassk

Case History

In the early morning of August 2022, the homes of local Jehovah’s Witnesses were searched in Novocherkassk and the village of Grushevskaya. Half an hour before the start of the searches, the Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against Gevorg Yeritsyan, Garegin Khachaturyan and Lyubov Galitsyna on charges of extremism. The men were interrogated and placed in a pre-trial detention center. A few days later, Lyubov was also behind bars. She spent more than a year in a pre-trial detention center, after which she was released under house arrest. Hearings in the case began in September 2023.

  • #
    June 2022 Tapping and hidden surveillance

    With regard to the civilians of Novocherkassk - Garegin Khachaturyan and Gevorg Yeritsyan - operational-search measures are underway.

  • #
    August 11, 2022

    In Novocherkassk, investigator of the Investigative Committee V.V. Bardakov initiates a criminal case against believers Gevorg Yeritsyan, Garegin Khachaturian and Lyubov Galitsyna. Immediately after that, at 6:00 a.m., the armed security forces conducted searches at 10 addresses, including the village of Hrushevskaya. They confiscate Bibles, electronic devices, money, and bank cards from believers. Then everyone is taken for interrogation to the Investigative Committee for the city of Novocherkassk.

    During a search in one of the houses, the hostess experiences a fainting state, she is offered several times to call an ambulance. Her husband, who does not share her religious views, is exerted psychological pressure by law enforcement officers. In another case, the investigator refuses to issue the interrogation protocol, arguing that the interrogated can post it on the Internet.

    Two men, Gevorg Yeritsyan and Garegin Khachaturyan, are taken into custody after search and interrogation. The court chooses a measure of restraint for them in the form of detention in pre-trial detention center No. 3 in Novocherkassk for 2 months.

  • #
    August 16, 2022

    Lyubov Galitsyna was charged in a previously initiated criminal case under Part 2 of Article 282.2.

  • #
    August 17, 2022

    Lyubov Galitsyna was chosen as a preventive measure in the form of detention in pre-trial detention center No. 3 in the city of Novocherkassk for 1 month and 25 days. At the courtroom, the believer is greeted with applause by 30 fellow believers who came to support her.

  • #
    January 18, 2023

    At the court session, the appeals of lawyers against the decision of the Novocherkassk City Court of the Rostov Region to extend the period of detention of Lyubov Galitsyna in the pre-trial detention center are considered.

    The defense emphasizes the fact of a procedural violation: the decision to prosecute as an accused was made by the investigator in the absence of authority. Points to the inaction of the investigator: "In the Rostov region, under this article, this is the only case when a 66-year-old woman is in custody. This is an excessively harsh measure of restraint." Focuses the court's attention on the serious chronic illnesses of the accused and on the fact that the investigator unreasonably refused to satisfy the petition for the appointment of a medical examination to establish the state of health.

    Lyubov Galitsina in her speech draws attention to the fact that she never had any intention to hide, because, after returning from vacation, she personally appeared before the investigator for interrogation. She also says that she has no desire or ability to put pressure on witnesses in the case, since she does not know them. The believer explains that in the pre-trial detention center her health is deteriorating greatly, her eyesight and hearing are falling, and her chronic diseases such as diabetes mellitus and hypertension have worsened.

    The court rejects the appeals, but excludes the word "inclusive" from the operative part of the decision to detain the accused until February 10, 2023.

  • #
    February 8, 2023

    The lawyer visits Lyubov Galitsyna in the pre-trial detention center. The believer has a cheerful spirit. She is determined to continue to defend her innocence in court.

    Lyubov began to receive regular letters of support from friends and fellow believers. There were no letters for a month, but then 400 pieces were brought at once. She does not have time to answer everyone, as letters come in 30-40 pieces every two days.

    In connection with the deteriorating state of health, the believer appealed to the head of the pre-trial detention center with a request for a medical examination. However, she was told that her illnesses did not prevent her from being held in detention "unless diabetes leads to gangrene." Lyubov received her second vaccination against covid so that her relatives would be allowed to visit her. In spite of everything, she is not discouraged and is grateful to everyone who comes to court to support and encourage her.

  • #
    March 21, 2023 Detention center

    Garegin Khachaturyan and Gevorg Yeritsyan are held in different cells, where the number of prisoners exceeds the number of places. Gevorg has his own bed. No one smokes in his cell. There used to be three smokers, but now one has been transferred, and two have quit smoking. Both believers are engaged in exercises, go for walks.

    The administration and cellmates treat Garegin and Gevorg with respect. One day, one of the prisoners, meeting them for the first time, exclaimed: "Oh! So you are the most famous people to whom a lot of letters are sent from all over the world! Believers do receive hundreds of letters, for example, Gevorg already has more than 900 of them. Inmates especially like riddles. The drawings that come in the letters, Garegin hangs on the walls of the cell.

    Believers are happy that many friends come to the courthouse. And although sometimes Gevorg and Garegin do not have time to see who came to support them, they hear after them: "We love you!"

  • #
    April 19, 2023 Detention center

    Lyubov Galitsyna has been in pre-trial detention for 9 months. Despite this, she remains calm. However, her physical health is deteriorating - neurological symptoms have been added.

    Lyubov got acquainted with her characterization issued by the pre-trial detention center. She was very surprised to see the criminal record attributed to her, reprimands that had never been given to her, and the signature of the head of the detachment, who was unknown to her.

    Letters coming in large quantities are handed over to Lyubov regularly. They support and encourage her. According to the believer, she likes to read about literally everything. Some stories are listened to with pleasure by her cellmates, postcards are of particular interest.

  • #
    June 15 — 16, 2023 Detention center

    Garegin Khachaturyan, Lyubov Galitsyna and Gevorg Yeritsyan have been in pre-trial detention for almost a year. Believers receive many letters from different countries.

    Garegin feels good. He has the opportunity to go for walks at least 3 times a week.

    Lyubov's health condition is satisfactory. She continues to receive the medications that her son gives her. For walks, she is taken only to the roof, where it is very hot. Her cell is also stuffy, the believer has not yet received the fan given to her.

  • #
    August 2, 2023 Detention center Elderly Health risk Restriction of the right to medical care

    Lyubov Galitsyna's health condition is deteriorating, but for a long time she has not been able to receive proper treatment in the pre-trial detention center. In addition to the fact that she suffers from diabetes, hypertension, has problems with hearing and vision, she has a new symptom: her leg began to go numb.

    The lawyer applied for the admission of doctors (therapist and endocrinologist) to the territory of the pre-trial detention center, providing documents confirming their qualifications, as well as a contract for the provision of medical services, but received an oral refusal from the administration of the detention center, motivated by the fact that it was necessary to obtain permission from the investigator, although the law does not oblige to do so. After receiving permission from the investigator to examine Lyubov, a doctor arrived at the pre-trial detention center, but the staff did not let him see the arrested woman.

  • #
    August 7, 2023 Detention center Elderly Health risk Restriction of the right to medical care

    The lawyer receives written permission from the administration of the pre-trial detention center for doctors to visit Lyubov Galitsyna. However, the staff of the pre-trial detention center does not allow the endocrinologist who came for a consultation.

    The believer is taken for consultation to the regional hospital of the Federal Penitentiary Service, but even there she does not receive medical advice.

  • #
    August 15, 2023 Detention center Elderly Restriction of the right to medical care

    During the prosecutor's check in the pre-trial detention center, Lyubov Galitsyna is visited by a representative of the Ministry of Health. The doctor listens to the believer's complaints about her illness and conducts an on-site examination that is accessible to the conditions of the pre-trial detention center.

    The inspectors note that Lyubov maintains order in the cell.

    The members of the commission are surprised by the large number of correspondence and parcels that the believer receives. On that day, she received 90 letters.

  • #
    September 1, 2023 Case went to court

    The case is submitted to the Novocherkassk City Court of the Rostov Region and appointed to Judge Nikolay Yegorov. The first hearing will be held on September 20.

  • #
    September 20, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The court session is held behind closed doors. The prosecutor submits a motion to extend the measure of restraint of Lyubov Galitsyna, Garegin Khachaturyan and Gevorg Yeritsyan for 6 months. The court chooses a measure of restraint for the accused in the form of detention until March 31, 2024.

  • #
    September 30, 2023 Detention center Letters Elderly

    During her stay in the pre-trial detention center, the health of Lyubov Galitsyna, who suffers from diabetes mellitus, was severely shaken. The believer is kept in a cell with elderly women, she has a neutral relationship with them. Lyubov worries that her health may deteriorate due to cigarette smoke. The believer has a Bible. She has already received thousands of letters of support and is grateful for the attention to her, which helps to feel that she is not alone.

    Due to the fact that there is a lot of smoking in the cell, Garegin Khachaturyan began to cough, but, unfortunately, there are no cells for non-smokers in this pre-trial detention center. The believer has a Bible, and he has already received more than 1,000 letters of support during his detention in the pre-trial detention center.

    Gevorg Yeritsyan has good relations with his cellmates and with the administration, he is treated with respect. He is grateful to fellow believers who help his wife take care of his two children.

  • #
    October 9, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The court rejects the motion of the defense for publicity of the trial and access to justice.

    The prosecutor announces the charges. Lyubov Galitsyna reads out the attitude to the accusation. None of the defendants admits his guilt and does not agree with the charges.

    The defense makes an oral motion to return the case to the prosecutor, which the judge does not satisfy.

  • #
    October 16, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    A witness, Garegin Khachaturyan's neighbor, is being interrogated, who gives the defendant a positive characterization.

  • #
    October 23, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The questioning of prosecution witnesses is ongoing. One of them states that he has never heard any extremist statements from any of the defendants. He gives an exceptionally positive characterization of each defendant.

  • #
    October 30, 2023 Secret witness Hearing in a court of the first instance

    A defense motion is filed to declassify a secret witness. The court postpones its consideration, as it considers that it is premature.

  • #
    November 27, 2023 Secret witness Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The hearing was adjourned for technical reasons: the voice of a secret witness was not heard.

  • #
    December 25, 2023 House arrest

    Lyubov Galitsyna was released from the pre-trial detention center. She was assigned a measure of restraint in the form of house arrest.

  • #
    January 22, 2024 Hearing in a court of the first instance Interrogation Elderly

    Judge Egorov refuses the defendants to disclose the identity of the classified witness. This woman says that she had previously attended services of Jehovah's Witnesses, and admits that they "were friendly, I did not fear for my life." She clarifies that when she decided not to attend services anymore, no one forced her to return and did not put pressure on her. Of the three defendants, the witness recognizes Khachaturian and Galitsyna. It characterizes them as peaceful believers; I have not heard any extremist appeals or statements about religious superiority from them.

  • #
    February 15, 2024 Hearing in a court of the first instance Detention center Elderly

    The court examines the written materials of the case. The defendants ask the prosecutor to read out the examinations in full so that the court understands what happened at the services.

    Among the materials of the case are books that the investigator recognized as material evidence, although these publications are not included in the list of extremist materials and are freely available.

    The general condition of Khachaturyan and Yeritsyan, who have been in pre-trial detention for more than a year and a half, is satisfactory. Gevorg keeps fit by playing sports.

    Lyubov Galitsyna recovers after a stay in a pre-trial detention center.

  • #
    February 19, 2024 Hearing in a court of the first instance House arrest Elderly

    Judge Nikolay Egorov refuses to soften Lyubov Galitsyna's preventive measure to a ban on certain actions and extends her house arrest.

    The prosecutor continues to present evidence. The defense draws attention to the fact that one of the three questions posed to the experts is legal. The experts' conclusions say that the video recordings recorded meetings of followers of the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses and there were no extremist statements there.

  • #
    March 4, 2024 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    About 30 people come to the courthouse, as usual, to support the defendants.

    The court examines the material evidence seized from Lyubov Galitsyna: the Bible, the Bible dictionary of Erik Nyström and her personal notes. The believer explains that in notebooks she wrote down her thoughts on Bible verses in order to "understand better how to manifest the qualities pleasing to God - compassion, mercy."