The case of Bashabayev and Others in Saratov

Case History

In the fall of 2023, security forces conducted searches in the homes of believers. They seized electronic devices, personal records, as well as documents and all the money. Aleksey Vasilyev, Aleksey Efremov and their family members were taken to the Investigative Committee for interrogation. The men were then placed in a temporary detention facility and later placed under house arrest. Three days later, Anton Bashabayev was detained at the Volgograd airport and taken to the Investigative Committee in Saratov. There he was interrogated and placed in a detention center, after which he was placed under house arrest. In April 2024, Sergey Bagiyan was detained in Moscow, who was placed in an isolation ward, after which he was transported to Saratov and placed under house arrest.

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    November 9, 2023 Search

    At the request of Bulat Urazov, investigator for particularly important cases of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Saratov Region, the Volzhsky District Court of Saratov issues a decision to conduct searches in the homes of persons suspected of professing the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses.

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    November 16, 2023 Search Interrogation Temporary detention facility

    Several believers are searched and interrogated, including in families with minor children and a disabled person.

    At 6 a.m., the Efremovs are awakened by a loud knock on the windows. The house includes 8 people, including two investigators, witnesses and riot police. The investigator hands Alexei a search warrant, informs him that the court has already made a decision on their case, and offers to cooperate with the investigation. Alexei's blood pressure rises, an ambulance is called for him. During the search, the believer is lying down, but he is lifted up to sign for the seized items.

    The search lasts 3 hours, the security forces take away electronic devices, bank cards and personal records. Aleksey Yefremov is detained and taken to the Investigative Committee, where he is interrogated throughout the day. Despite the believer's repeated statements about his chronic diseases (insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and three heart attacks), he was denied medication and insulin injections and placed in a temporary detention facility.

    At 6 a.m., 10 people burst into Alexei Vasiliev's house, including employees of the FSB, CPE, SOBR and witnesses. The believer is laid on the floor and handcuffed. An employee of the Investigative Committee presents a search warrant, but does not provide a copy of this document. Alexei's wife and their minor daughter are taken to the investigative committee.

    During the 8-hour search, the believer's laptop and tablet, personal records, phones, smart watches with charging, wallet, cash, bank cards, car documents, driver's licenses, passports, WI-FI router and the Bible in the Synodal translation are seized. Also, operatives pick up the password to the believer's laptop and hack it. After the search, Vasilyev was taken to the Investigative Committee for interrogation by investigator Bulat Urazov, who said that the believer, his wife and minor daughter would be placed in a temporary detention facility. After interrogation, Aleksey is placed in an isolation ward, and his relatives are allowed to go home.

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    November 17, 2023 House arrest

    The Volzhsky District Court of Saratov places Aleksey Efremov and Aleksey Vasilyev under house arrest.

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    November 19, 2023 Recognizance agreement Search

    Volgograd FSB officers detain Anton Bashabayev at the Volgograd airport after passing through customs control (the believer and his wife were going on vacation). He is told that he cannot fly, as he is under a recognizance agreement, about which he knows nothing. The personal belongings of the spouses are searched in the office premises.

    Officers of the FSB, CPE and riot police take Bashabayev to his place of residence - to the city of Volzhsky, where his mother lives. There, the believer is presented with a search warrant, which lasts an hour and a half and is conducted under the guidance of I.V. Kinash, an employee of the Center for Economics of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation for the Saratov Region. The security forces seized phones and personal records belonging to Bashabayev's mother, the phone number of the believer's wife, as well as cash. After the search, Anton was taken to the Investigative Committee of Saratov all night.

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    November 20, 2023 Temporary detention facility Interrogation

    At 07:20 in the morning, investigator Bulat Urazov interrogates Bashabayev and draws up a protocol for the seizure of personal belongings: a phone, tablet and laptop, as well as a common notebook with personal notes. The believer is photographed and sent to a temporary detention facility, where he will be fingerprinted.

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    November 21, 2023 House arrest

    The Volzhsky District Court of Saratov places Anton Bashabayev under house arrest.

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    November 24, 2023 Art. 282.2 (2)

    Investigator Bulat Urazov prosecutes Anton Bashabayev, Aleksey Efremov and Aleksey Vasilyev as accused of committing a crime under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. According to the ruling, the believers are accused of "preaching and spreading the doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses among residents of the city of Saratov and the Saratov region," as well as "participating in meetings held using the Zoom software."

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    April 21, 2024 Case initiated Art. 282 Temporary detention facility House arrest

    Sergey Bagiyan is detained in Moscow and told that he is wanted in connection with a criminal case under an extremist article. The man is taken to the police station and placed in a temporary detention facility for 3 days. The wife is allowed to bring food to Bagiyan