The Case of Piskareva in Oryol

Case History

In December 2020, raids in the homes of Jehovah's Witnesses took place in Oryol. The home of Vladimir Piskarev and Tatyana Piskareva was among those broken into by security forces. Vladimir was arrested. In October 2021, Tatyana also became a defendant in a criminal case for believing in Jehovah God. The believer was charged for participating in peaceful meetings for worship. In March 2023, the case went to court. Eleven interrogation witnesses for the prosecution reported that they had not known Tatyana, had not received any literature from her and had not heard any extremist appeals from her. A year later, Tatyana was sentenced to 2 years and 6 months of forced labor. In May 2024, the court of appeal upheld this decision.

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    December 9, 2020

    In Orel, searches are being carried out at 8 addresses, among the victims are the spouses Vladimir and Tatyana Piskaryov. Vladimir was placed under arrest on the same day. A day earlier, a criminal case was opened against him under an extremist article.

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    October 28, 2021

    The investigator of the investigation department for the Sovetsky district of the city of Orel of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation I. Simonova singles out the criminal case against Tatyana Piskareva in a separate proceeding.

    According to the investigation, the believer "took part in the meetings of a banned religious organization." This is how Simonova interprets the peaceful communication of believers at worship services held via video conferencing.

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    January 26, 2022

    Investigator of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation Anastasia Dunicheva attracts Tatyana Piskareva as an accused. Among the evidence of her guilt, the investigation lists recordings of telephone conversations and conversations with fellow believers via the Internet.

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    March 1, 2023 Case went to court

    The case goes to the Sovetsky District Court of Orel. It will be considered by judge Dmitry Sukhov.

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    April 10, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The hearing of the case in court begins. Tatyana submits a petition for audio recording of the hearings, the judge allows. The defendant pleaded not guilty. She reads out her attitude to the charges, the judge attaches it to the case file.

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    April 27, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance Interrogation

    Interrogation of four prosecution witnesses. Three of them do not know the defendant. Nothing can be explained on the merits of the case.

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    July 31, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance Elderly

    Due to the failure of prosecution witnesses to appear, the judge proposes to change the course of the hearing. The prosecutor skims 5 volumes of the case file.

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    October 2, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance Interrogation Secret witness Elderly

    The lawyer petitions for the face-to-face interrogation of the secret witness Ivanova, the judge refuses. The prosecutor begins the questioning of the witness Ivanova. She reports that she finds nothing reprehensible in the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses. The witness confirms that she was never forced to become a member of any religious organization. Answering the prosecutor's questions, Ivanova reports that several people came to the service to one of the believers, among whom were the Piskarevs.

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    November 16, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    CDs with audio recordings of conversations between Tatyana Piskareva and another believer on biblical topics, which were made secretly, are being examined.

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    January 11 and 30, 2024 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The court listened to recordings of Piskaryova's telephone conversations. Those present hear how a woman communicates with her acquaintances in a friendly manner and encourages them to follow the instructions of the authorities - to observe the regime of self-isolation during the covid period. On the recording, she says: "We need to obey the authorities more. They said not to go out means not to go out!"

    Judge Dmitry Sukhov reports on a letter received by the court from Germany from acquaintances of Tatyana Piskaryova, who ask not to punish the believer. The lawyer asks to attach the letter to the case file, as it positively characterizes the accused. The judge grants the request.

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    February 15, 2024 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    Tatyana Piskareva talks about her peaceful nature: "I did not call anyone against the authorities. I have never carried out actions to discriminate against anyone, did not incite hostility or violence. On the contrary, my life principles are peace, love, patience, empathy, kindness. He points out that the state prosecution has no evidence of her guilt and notes that 11 prosecution witnesses who were interrogated by the prosecutor reported that they did not know her, did not receive any literature from her and did not hear extremist appeals.

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    February 21, 2024 Prosecutor requested punishment Closing arguments for the defense Elderly

    State prosecutor Oksana Slobodyannik, speaking in the debate, asks the court to sentence Tatyana Piskareva to 5 years in prison.

    The defendant's lawyer objects: "During the investigation, it was revealed that there were no grounds for punishment. The accusations are unfounded and unsubstantiated. Piskareva peacefully practiced her religion, according to Article 28 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation. I ask the court to acquit the client."

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    March 1, 2024 First Instance Sentence Forced labor Art. 282.2 (2) Prosecution of several family members Elderly
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    May 16, 2024 Court of Appeal Art. 282.2 (2) Forced labor Elderly Prosecution of several family members
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    June 24, 2024 Forced labor Elderly

    68-year-old Tatyana Piskareva arrives at the correctional center to serve a court-imposed sentence for her faith — forced labor. The center is located at colony-settlement No. 3 in the village of Shakhovo (Oryol region).

    In the precinct functioning as a correctional centre (UFRC), a certain daily routine has been established. At 6 o'clock in the morning, we wake up, then exercises, breakfast and general formation. After that, the convicts go to work. They receive a salary, from which from 5% to 20% is deducted in favor of the state. At the end of the 8-hour working day, convicts are obliged to return to the correctional centre. In the evening, there is also a general formation, and then at 22:00 lights out. In the center there is a shared kitchen, washing machine, showers.

    Convicts do not lose social ties with their loved ones, as they are allowed to use mobile communications and the Internet.