Case of the Polyakovs and Others in Omsk

Case history

In 2018, the Polyakovs were arrested in Omsk. During the arrest, Sergei was beaten and forced to wipe his blood off the floor. The couple spent five months in solitary confinement and three months under house arrest. In 2019, the Investigative Committee again searched the houses of believers, and Gaukhar Bektemirova and Dinara Dyusekeyeva became defendants in the case. The court considered the case for almost a year. Evidence of guilt was even sought in cartoons seized during the search. In November 2020, Sergey Polyakov was sentenced to three years in a penal colony, and three women were given suspended sentences: Anastasiya Polyakova—two and a half years; Gaukhar Bektemirova—two years and three months; Dinara Dyusekeyeva—two years. In May 2021, the appeal court upheld the verdict, and in June 2022, this verdict was upheld by the cassation court. In November 2022, Sergei Polyakov was released after serving his full term in a penal colony, and in January 2023, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation partially granted Polyakov’s appeal regarding the term of his sentence.

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    June 20, 2018

    A. Sylnik, senior investigator of the Azov Interdistrict Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Omsk Region, initiates a criminal case under Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation against Sergey and Anastasia Polyakov.

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    July 4, 2018

    Searches were conducted at the homes of Sergey and Anastasia Polyakovs, Igor Zhukov, Gaukhar Bektemirova and Dinara Dyusekeyeva. Polyakovs Sergey and Anastasia were detained. During the arrest, Sergey was severely beaten by masked law enforcement officers. The investigation team is headed by Major of Justice Denis Loginovsky, an investigator of the Azov Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in the Omsk Region.

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    July 5, 2018

    Sergey Polyakov and Anastasia were charged under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

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    July 6, 2018 Search

    A court hearing in the Azov City Court of the Omsk Region as a measure of restraint. Sergey and Anastasia were left in custody in a pre-trial detention center for 2 months until 04.09.2018 by the decision of the chairman of the court Nina Iordan.

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    July 10, 2018
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    July 13, 2018
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    July 16, 2018

    The Omsk Regional Court leaves Sergey and Anastasia in custody for 01 month and 16 days, that is, until 08/20/2018.

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    August 13, 2018

    The Azov District Court extends the detention of the spouses until 20.09.2018.

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    September 25, 2018

    The Omsk Regional Court leaves Sergey and Anastasia in custody until 20.11.2018.

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    November 14, 2018

    The Azov District Court extends the detention of the spouses until 20.12.2018.

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    December 4, 2018

    The Omsk Regional Court replaces the measure of restraint for Sergey and Anastasia with house arrest until 12/20/2018.

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    December 5, 2018

    After five months in solitary confinement, the Omsk Regional Court released the Polyakovs from custody under house arrest in one apartment. The case was transferred to the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Omsk Region.

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    December 14, 2018
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    December 19, 2018

    The Kuibyshevsky District Court extends the stay under house arrest of Sergey and Anastasia until 20.01.2019, walks are allowed.

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    January 17, 2019

    The Kuibyshevsky District Court extends the house arrest of Sergey and Anastasia until February 20, 2019.

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    February 18, 2019

    The term of detention of the Polyakovs Sergey and Anastasia under house arrest has been extended until 20.03.2019.

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    March 4, 2019

    The Omsk Regional Court cancels the measure of restraint in the form of house arrest for Sergey and Anastasia. A preventive measure was chosen in the form of a written undertaking not to leave and proper behavior.

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    April 15, 2019

    Another search of believers.

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    May 8, 2019

    Again searches in the case of the Polyakovs. The raid was sanctioned by Oksana Voltornist, a judge of the Kuibyshevsky District Court of Omsk.

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    May 9, 2019 Search
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    June 24, 2019

    Lieutenant Colonel of Justice D.V. Levchenko, Senior Investigator of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Omsk Region, having considered the report on the detection of signs of a crime of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation No. 234pr-19 and the materials of the check on the fact of participation in the activities of a religious organization, opened a criminal case under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, against Karimzhanov A.Zh., Polyakov S.V., Polyakova A.A., Dyusekeeva D.Kh., Bektemirova G.M. and other persons.

    The head of the first department for the investigation of particularly important cases of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in the Omsk Region, Colonel of Justice K.M. Martynenko, reviewed the materials of UD No. 11802520007000028 and the materials of UD No. 11902520035000010 decided to combine criminal cases under the number No. 11802520007000028.

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    June 28, 2019

    With Dyusekeyeva Dinara, an obligation to appear was received.

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    July 1, 2019

    An obligation to appear was received from Bektemirova Gaukhar.

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    July 30, 2019

    Dyusekeeva and Bektemirova were charged under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

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    August 19, 2019

    A criminal case was initiated by the investigator of the first department for the investigation of especially important cases of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Omsk Region D.V. Levchenko against A.V. Karimzhanov, S.V. Polyakov, and I.V. Zhukov under Part 1 of Article 282.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Combining a criminal case initiated on 20.06.2018 with a new criminal case into one.

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    August 22, 2019

    Sergey Polyakov was charged under Part 1 of Article 282.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

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    October 3, 2019

    First Deputy Prosecutor of the Omsk Region A.A. Lorenz signs the indictment.

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    October 24, 2019

    The case is referred for consideration on the merits to the Leninsky District Court of Omsk.

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    November 12, 2019

    A preliminary hearing is being held in the Leninsky District Court of Omsk, chaired by Judge Ivan Kargapolov. The defendants filed a motion to transfer the case to the Pervomaisky District Court of Omsk in connection with the territory of jurisdiction, it will be considered on November 20.

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    November 13, 2019
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    November 20, 2019

    The court satisfies the defense's petition to send the criminal case to the Pervomaisky District Court of Omsk. The exact date of the next meeting is still unknown.

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    December 17, 2019

    Continuation of the preliminary hearing. The question of the legality of the defense of three defendants by lawyer Kolobov at the same time is discussed. The judge notes that during the preliminary investigation, the defendants Polyakovs testified, but Dyusekeeva did not, which may lead to a conflict of interests in the future. The defense objects, since at the moment there are no contradictions, and the Criminal Procedure Code does not provide for the disqualification of the defender in connection with conflicts of interest in the future, which may not arise in the future.

    The next meetings will be held on December 18 and 23.

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    December 18, 2019

    The court rejects the request to return the case to the prosecutor. The preliminary hearing is over.

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    January 9, 2020

    The first court hearing. The indictment is announced. All the defendants do not admit guilt and declare that they do not understand the charges. The procedure for examining evidence has been established. The next hearings are scheduled for January 22 and 23.

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    28–29.01.2020

    Court hearings are ongoing. About 30 people who come to support the defendants are not allowed into the courtroom. The first to be questioned is a specialist from the Ministry of Justice, who informs the court that the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses is not prohibited.

    Two witnesses for the prosecution do not provide any information relevant to the case, but only express personal hostility to the religious views of the defendants. The other two witnesses, one of whom is a mullah of a mosque in Omsk, share their memories of discussing religious issues with the Polyakovs. Both witnesses confirm that these were ordinary conversations about God, their rights were not violated. The mullah complains: "I didn't like what he was preaching here. [...] This is my village, this is where I preach."

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    06–07.02.2020

    A mother of many children, who discussed the Bible with the defendant Anastasia Polyakova, was interrogated. She reports that she was not taught anything bad, her rights and freedoms were not violated. Two volumes of the materials of the criminal case were announced, including a discussion of the Bible by phone.

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    February 12, 2020

    The court interrogates three witnesses with whom the Polyakovs had conversations about God. They confirm that their rights were not violated during the interview. The court examines the materials of the case, including a disc with cartoons on biblical motifs. The Polyakovs once presented this disc to the witness Zhaurova. The judge grants the lawyer's request to review the contents of the disc. 10 cartoons are played. The defense draws the court's attention to the fact that the Bible serves as the main material for cartoons.

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    February 13, 2020

    The court interrogates four more witnesses with whom the Polyakovs discussed the Bible. All witnesses confirm that during the interview with the accused, their rights were not violated, and no harm was caused. During the break, it becomes obvious that the interrogated witnesses communicate with the unquestioned, as well as with the CPE officer who accompanied them. In this regard, the defense file a motion for the interrogation of G. M. Skripnikova, who witnessed non-compliance with measures to suppress the communication of witnesses during the trial. The court grants the request and requests information about the employee of the CPE. Further, the court continues to examine the material evidence presented by the disc with cartoons. Another 10 cartoons are played.

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    February 19, 2020

    Testimony is given by two other witnesses who discussed the Bible with the Polyakovs. They indicate that their rights have not been violated, no harm has been caused. The prosecutor reads out the fourth volume of the case.

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    September 17, 2020

    In the Pervomaisky District Court of Omsk, the debate of the parties begins. The prosecutor requests 6 years and 6 months of real imprisonment for Sergey Polyakov under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Anastasia Polyakova, Dinara Dyusekeyeva and Gaukhar Bektemirova (charged under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) are asked by the state prosecutor to be sentenced to 2 years of suspended imprisonment.

    After the prosecutor's speech, the believers themselves speak in the debate.

    The position of the lawyer in the debate will be presented on September 24, 2020. On the same day, the defendants will address the court with the last word, and the judge may announce the date of the announcement of the verdict.

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    September 24, 2020 First Instance Sentence

    In the Pervomaisky District Court of the city of Omsk, Sergey, Anastasia Polyakovs and Gaukhar Bektemirova speak with the last word. The fourth accused, Dinara Dyusekeyeva, will make her final statement at the next hearing, on October 21. The verdict to the believers must be pronounced on the same day.

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    October 21, 2020 First Instance Sentence

    The hearing is postponed to November 10, 2020.

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    November 10, 2020
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    November 27, 2020 First Instance Sentence

    Judge Denis Pershukevich in the Pervomaisky District Court of Omsk begins, but does not finish, read out the verdict in the case. The announcement of the verdict will continue on Monday, November 30.

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    November 30, 2020 First Instance Sentence

    Judge of the Pervomaisky District Court of Omsk Denis Pershukevich sentences Sergey Polyakov to 3 years of imprisonment in a general regime colony. At the same time, the court decides to include 5 months of the believer's stay in a pre-trial detention center and 3 months under house arrest in the served term. The court sentenced Anastasia Polyakova to 2 years and 6 months of probation. Gaukhar Bektemirova and Dinara Dyusekeyeva also receive suspended sentences of 2 years and 3 months, as well as 2 years, respectively. Believers do not agree with the guilty verdict and will appeal against it.

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    April 2, 2021 Court of Appeal

    Omsk Regional Court (Omsk, Suvorov str., 99).

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    May 28, 2021 Court of Appeal

    An appeal hearing is being held in the Omsk Regional Court. The judicial collegium upholds the verdict of the lower court. In their final statement, the believers again explain that they are not being judged for a crime, but for their faith in Jehovah God.

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    August 20, 2021 Life in prison

    The whereabouts of Sergey Polyakov are being clarified: he has been transferred to correctional colony No. 4 in the Novgorod Region, which is located in the city of Valdai. According to Anastasia Polyakova, who received the first letter from the colony from her husband, Sergey has already been given overalls and is in quarantine for two weeks. After that, he will begin working at one of the production enterprises of the colony.

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    October 11, 2021 Life in prison

    A lawyer visits Sergey Polyakov in a penal colony in Valdai. The transfer of the believer to serve his sentence took almost 2 months: from Omsk to Yekaterinburg, from there to Kirov, then to Yaroslavl, to Veliky Novgorod and, finally, to the city of Valdai in the Novgorod region. At one of the sections in the car, ventilation did not work well, it was hot, and the prisoners often smoked, which made it difficult for Sergey to breathe. In the pre-trial detention center of Veliky Novgorod, the conditions of detention were difficult: the windows were bricked, there was no bed linen, ventilation was not turned on, rats penetrated into the cell from a hole in the sewer pipe.

    In the Valdai colony, Sergey was placed in an 8-bed barracks, which contains 6 people. Polyakov performs the work of a "dresser": he notes the number of prisoners coming to and leaving the industrial zone. He does not receive payment, the administration of the colony has not yet responded to his appeals. The work for Polyakov is feasible, the food is regular, but there is a lack of proteins and fats in the diet, so Sergey sometimes feels weak.

    Polyakov did not receive any penalties. He has no conflicts with other prisoners.

    In general, Sergey feels satisfied. He had previously been ill with coronavirus, and was already vaccinated in the colony.

    A believer reads the Bible and other books from the colony's library. Sergey is very happy to receive letters of support. According to the staff of the penitentiary institution, he alone receives more letters per day than all the prisoners of the colony, which contains 200-250 people.

    Polyakov has already received 2 visits with his wife: one short-term and one long-term.

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    June 23, 2022 Court of Cassation

    The Eighth Court of Cassation of General Jurisdiction in Kemerovo upholds the sentence of Sergey and Anastasia Polyakov, as well as Gaukhar Bektemirova and Dinara Dyusekeyeva.

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    November 30, 2022
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    January 11, 2023
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    May 30, 2023

    Gaukhar Bektemirova served the main sentence in the form of suspended imprisonment for a period of 2 years and 3 months.