The Case of Rygaev and Pyzhov in Omsk

Case History

In March 2024, law enforcement officers in Omsk searched the homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and dozens of believers were interrogated. During the searches, Sergey Rygaev and Leonid Pyzhov were beaten. The men were placed in a pretrial detention center. For reading the Bible with friends, they were charged with organizing the activity of an extremist organization.

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    February 29, 2024 Case initiated Art. 282.2 (1)

    Senior investigator of the Investigative Committee, Captain of Justice Maria Volkova initiates a criminal case against Leonid Pyzhov and Sergey Rygaev.

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    March 4, 2024 Search Interrogation Health risk Elderly Violence by law enforcement officers Temporary detention facility

    Early in the morning in Omsk, security forces armed with assault rifles conduct searches at least 7 addresses.

    7 law enforcement officers come to the apartment of the Rygaev spouses, accompanied by investigator Saltanat Zhansakova. At this time, Sergey is detained on the street on his way to work. According to the believer, three FSB officers beat him in a police van and pulled a bag over his head, demanding to give him the password for his phone. Then he is brought home. After the search, the spouses are taken to the Investigative Committee for interrogation.

    During a search in the Pyzhovs' apartment, the security forces hit Leonid in the face, demanding to name the password from the smartphone. The spouse is at work at this time.

    The security forces break into the house of two other women. They, as well as their elderly parents, become ill, they are allowed to drink medicine. After the search, the whole family is taken for interrogation.

    In the apartment of a 52-year-old believer, the security forces, among other things, tear up children's crafts and check their contents. The woman is taken away for interrogation, later released. Her passport is confiscated, which is why she cannot seek medical help and restore her SIM card.

    In another case, at least 10 security officials searched the apartment of a 62-year-old believer.

    In total, on this day, about 15 believers and their families are taken to the Investigative Committee for interrogation. After interrogation, the 67-year-old woman becomes ill, she asks to call an ambulance, but instead she is taken home.

    Leonid Pyzhov and Sergey Rygaev are placed in a temporary detention facility.

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    March 5, 2024 Detention center

    Judge of the Kuibyshevsky District Court of Omsk Ruslan Khasanshin, at the request of investigator Maria Volkova, chooses a measure of restraint for Leonid Pyzhov and Sergey Rygaev in the form of detention until April 28, 2024. They are quarantined in solitary confinement.

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    June 4, 2024 Detention center

    Believers are still in solitary isolation quarantine cells of the basement type with high humidity and lack of lighting.

    Sergey receives letters from his wife with a long delay, but other letters come to both men on time. Rygaev and Pyzhov were denied visits to their wives.