Case of Olenin in Snezhinsk

Case History

Ilya Olenin, a design engineer from Snezhinsk, was searched twice: in November 2020 as part of the case against Lyudmila Salikova and in October 2021 as part of the case against Olenin himself. Investigator of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation Dmitry Zykov opened a criminal case against the believer for organizing the activities of an extremist organization because of talking about the Bible with neighbors and fellow believers. In addition, the charges are based on the testimony of V. Kotelnikova, who, on the instructions of the FSB, pretended to be interested in the Bible and kept a secret record of conversations with Jehovah’s Witnesses and their worship services. Olenin was under recognizance not to leave for 4.5 months. In May 2022, the case was submitted to the Snezhinskiy City Court. Three months later, Judge Oleg Klementyev found the believer guilty and fined him 500,000 rubles. In September 2022, the appeal upheld the verdict.

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    November 30, 2020

    In the city of Snezhinsk, searches are being carried out at 4 families of believers, as well as at the home of an elderly woman. The search in the apartment of Ilya and Natalia Olenin is led by FSB officer Alexander Teplyakov. The Tatar Bible, calendars, notebooks, postcards, electronic devices, CDs and other personal items are seized from believers.

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    December 2, 2020

    A woman who feigned interest in the teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses and collaborated with the FSB is being interrogated. She reports how the services of Jehovah's Witnesses were held and calls Ilya Olenin a "leader."

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    December 3, 2020 Search
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    April 21, 2021

    A comprehensive religious, psychological and linguistic forensic examination of records of worship services is underway. Experts conclude that the recordings contain conversations of Jehovah's Witnesses. They are united among themselves, united by common values and interests.

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    September 8, 2021

    Dmitry Zykov, Senior Investigator for Investigation of Particularly Important Cases of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Chelyabinsk Region, initiates a criminal case against 44-year-old Ilya Olenin under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (organization of extremist organization activities). According to the investigation, "I.V. Olenin organized preaching activities, that is, conducting conversations with residents of the city of Snezhinsk, in order to promote the activities of the banned organization and involve citizens in the religious teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses."

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    October 27, 2021

    FSB officers summon Olenin for interrogation, come to pick him up at work, but take him home for a second search, authorized by investigator Zykov. During a three-hour search, a tablet and 3 postcards were seized from the believer. Then Olenin is taken for interrogation, which lasts 1.5 hours. The believer uses Article 51 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

    Ilya Olenin is chosen a measure of restraint in the form of a written undertaking not to leave.

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    February 25, 2022

    An additional comprehensive religious, psychological and linguistic forensic examination of liturgical meetings is underway. Experts come to the conclusion that Ilya Olenin participates in discussions on religious topics, "plays a communicative role of leader" and encourages reading the Holy Scriptures.

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    March 23, 2022

    Dmitry Zykov, an investigator for the investigation of especially important cases of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Chelyabinsk Region, brings charges against Ilya Olenin of committing a crime under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

    According to the investigation, peaceful meetings with fellow believers and discussion of texts based on the Holy Scriptures can lead to undermining the foundations of the constitutional order and state security.

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    April 28, 2022

    Ilya Olenin receives an indictment. He is accused of organizing meetings with fellow believers, which "were held in the form of collective religious services, consisting of sequential performances of songs from a special collection of religious teachings, study and discussion of articles and religious literature." As evidence of the believer's guilt, objects and information obtained during the investigation of the case against Lyudmila Salikova are used.

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    May 4, 2022

    The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation reports that the investigation of the case has been completed and it is being transferred to the court.

    The case of Ilya Olenin goes to the Snezhinskiy City Court of the Chelyabinsk Region. It will be considered by judge Oleg Klementyev.

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    May 23, 2022 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The first meeting is being held behind closed doors. Ilya Olenin makes motions for the discovery of evidence, for the return of the case to the prosecutor, as well as for the admission of a lawyer. In his petitions, Olenin draws attention to the official statements of the European Court of Human Rights, the Supreme Court and the Government of the Russian Federation.

    The court rejects all three motions.

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    June 6, 2022 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The prosecutor reads out the indictment. Ilya Olenin speaks with an attitude to the prosecution and does not admit guilt in extremism.

    The court is questioning three witnesses for the prosecution. One of them reports that at meetings of Jehovah's Witnesses he did not hear calls for violence and violation of the laws of the Russian Federation. Another witness cannot identify the believer.

    The third witness is the informant V. Kotelnikova, who, on the instructions of the FSB, collected information about believers in Snezhinsk. The defense draws attention to the discrepancy between the testimony of the witness and what is recorded on the recordings of the services made by her. The woman admits that, on the initiative of the investigator, she familiarized herself with the case file, although she did not have the right to do so under the law.

    The defendant's superior acts as a witness for the defense. He gives Olenin a positive characterization and says: "He is a good worker. Such people should be rewarded, not judged."

    At the request of the defendant, the court gets acquainted with excerpts from the Bible Encyclopedia of Archimandrite Nicephorus, which refers to the use of the name "Jehovah" in the Bible and its replacement with the title "Lord".

    The court also attaches to the case documents confirming Olenin's guardianship over his father, a disabled person of group I.

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    June 8, 2022 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The questioning of prosecution witnesses is ongoing. One of the women claims that Olenin talked to her only on everyday topics.

    Another witness explains that the believer did not force her to break the laws and introduce Jehovah's Witnesses to the religion. It turns out that Olenin talked to this woman about the Bible back in 2016, a year before the Supreme Court's decision to liquidate Jehovah's Witnesses' legal entities.

    The court proceeds to examine the materials of the case, including watching video recordings of liturgical meetings. The defendant notes that one of them does not have his voice.

    The judge, at the request of the defendant, reads out the brochure seized during the search, as well as the Bible passages contained therein.

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    June 9, 2022 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    At the defendant's request, the court is reviewing a documentary about Jehovah's Witnesses in the USSR and a fragment of a film about believers in Nazi Germany. After that, Ilya Olenin testifies. He says that extremism contradicts his beliefs: "My grandfather, who worked as the chief prosecutor of Chelyabinsk, said an important idea: 'The main thing in our business is to keep a clear conscience.' It became my life credo."

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    July 25, 2022 Prosecutor requested punishment Final statement

    Referee: Oleg Klementyev. Snezhinskiy City Court of the Chelyabinsk Region (Snezhinsk, Dzerzhinsky St., 24). Time: 9:30. Hall No. 2.

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    July 26, 2022 First Instance Sentence

    Judge Oleg Klementyev finds Ilya Olenin guilty and imposes a fine of 500,000 rubles on the believer.

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    September 19, 2022
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    June 7, 2023