Belousov's case in Seversk

Case history

For several months, intelligence agent Kira Klisheva, who portrayed an interest in the Bible, kept covert video recordings of Jehovah’s Witnesses worship services in Seversk. She transmitted the data to the FSB. In July 2020, employees of the Investigative Committee invaded with a search of a peaceful family man Sergey Belousov. In March 2021, the Investigation Department for the Closed Administrative Territory of Seversk opened a criminal case against the believer, separating him from the case of Yevgeny Korotun. Belousov was accused of extremism, which, according to the investigation, was expressed in participation in worship services, the performance of religious songs and prayers. In July 2021, the case was submitted to the Seversky City Court of the Tomsk Region. It was considered by judge Ekaterina Soldatenko. On April 14, 2022, Belousov was sentenced to 3 years of probation with restriction of liberty for 1 year. In June 2022, the appellate court upheld this decision.

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    July 14, 2020

    At the same time, at about 9 a.m., officers of the Investigative Committee and the FSB invaded the homes of Sergey Belousov, Andrey Kolesnichenko, Andrey Ledyaykin, Alexei Ershov and Yevgeny Korotun. 50-year-old Kolesnichenko and 31-year-old Ledyaikin are detained by FSB officers at work, after which searches are conducted at their homes. The search of 67-year-old Aleksey Ershov lasts about 5 hours. His wife is not allowed into the apartment, but later taken for interrogation with her husband and daughter.

    One of the believers later said: "We opened the door because it was almost broken down. About 10 people entered the apartment and began to search. My son and I were kept in a stairwell for several hours. The neighbors took out a chair and some food." Lieutenant Sergey Mamontov, senior investigator of the investigation department for the Leninsky district of Tomsk, asks Kolesnichenko why he "does not attend the Orthodox or Catholic Church."

    Law enforcement officers confiscate electronic devices, various editions of the Bible, notebooks, Wi-Fi routers, video cameras, photos, postcards, bank cards, foreign passports and even volumes of Victor Hugo and Leo Tolstoy from believers.

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    March 25, 2021

    The Investigation Department for Seversk of the Investigative Committee of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Tomsk Region is initiating a criminal case under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code against 43-year-old Sergey Belousov. The criminal case was separated from the case against Yevgeny Korotun.

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    March 30, 2021

    The believer is formally charged on the basis of video recordings of worship services made by K. E. Klisheva from her home computer. The woman pretended to be interested in the Bible for about a year, collaborating with the FSB.

    Sergey Belousov is accused of taking part in ... religious worship", as well as in "singing songs" and "prayers to Jehovah God" (from the indictment).

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    June 22, 2021

    The criminal case of Sergey Belousov is submitted to the Seversky City Court of the Tomsk Region, it will be considered by Judge Ekaterina Soldatenko.

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    July 13, 2021 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    Hearings begin in the Seversky City Court of the Tomsk Region. Only Sergey Belousov's wife and daughter are allowed into the hall as listeners.

    The prosecutor reads out the indictment. The defendant expresses his disagreement with the charges against him.

    The judge refuses to read out the written testimony of the prosecution witness to the prosecutor and asks him to be summoned to the next hearing.

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    December 10, 2021

    The prosecutor finishes reading 6 volumes of the case. Among the materials are biblical speeches and articles on the topics: "Conquer evil with good", "Take your eyes away from the unworthy", "You can become a support for others" and "Love strengthens".

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    January 14, 2022

    Despite the severe frost, 18 people come to the courthouse to support the defendant.

    The court reads out Belousov's characteristics from the place of work, from neighbors, as well as letters of thanks from the school for the good upbringing of his daughter.

    A defense witness who has known the defendant for more than 10 years is being interrogated. He notes: "Sergey is a respectable, modest, educated person, ready to support in difficult times. A friend, in short. You can always talk to him about something, on any topic. Fun enough."

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    January 20, 2022 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    During the court hearing, despite the objection of the prosecutor Sidorenko, Judge Ekaterina Soldatenko agrees to view a fragment of the videoconference of the Plenum of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation dated October 28, 2021. Sergey Belousov notes that, according to the decision of the Plenum, the divine services of Jehovah's Witnesses do not in themselves constitute corpus delicti.

    Video recordings of 5 worship services are played, which, as the believer explains, are not meetings of members of the banned LRO.

    A defense witness who is not one of Jehovah's Witnesses is being questioned. He characterizes Sergey Belousov as someone who has a decent reputation among the residents of Seversk. "The person is sympathetic, good. [...] If he was a bad person, then so many people would not worry about him," the witness notes.

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    January 31, 2022 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    In the courtroom, in addition to the participants in the trial, the defendant's wife and daughter are present. The court rejects the motion to dismiss the criminal case.

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    February 11, 2022 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    Despite the 25-degree frost, 67 people come to the courthouse to support Sergey Belousov. Only the defendant's wife is allowed into the courtroom.

    Judge Ekaterina Soldatenko attaches documents in the case of Jehovah's Witnesses from Kamchatka - Konstantin and Snezhana Bazhenov and Vera Zolotova. On January 18, 2022, the Kamchatka Regional Court acquitted the believers accused under the same article as Sergey Belousov (Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). However, Soldatenko says that when sentencing Belousov, the court will make its own decision.

    The application for the exclusion of irrelevant material evidence shall be rejected.

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    March 24, 2022 Prosecutor requested punishment

    The prosecutor requests for Sergey Belousov a sentence of 5 years of imprisonment in a general regime colony with restriction of freedom for 1 year.

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    April 13, 2022 Final statement

    The defendant delivers the last word. The verdict will be announced on April 14.

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    April 14, 2022 First Instance Sentence

    Ekaterina Soldatenko finds Sergey Belousov guilty of participating in the activities of an extremist organization and sentences him to 3 years of suspended sentence.

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    April 18, 2022
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    June 30, 2022 Court of Appeal

    The panel of judges of the Tomsk Regional Court approves the verdict to Sergey Belousov.