The Case of Yurenkova in Tolyatti

Case History

Yelena Yurenkova became a defendant in a criminal case for her faith when searches were carried out in Tolyatti in May 2023. She was placed under a recognizance agreement. The Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee for the Samara Region accused her of participating in the activity of an extremist organization because she peacefully met with her fellow believers. The basis for initiating the criminal case were hidden video recordings of meetings for worship, which were made over 2.5 years. In July 2023, the case went to court. The prosecutor requested a sentence of 4 years in a penal colony for Yelena. In March 2024, the court gave the believer a 2-year suspended sentence.

  • #
    May 15, 2023 Case initiated Art. 282.2 (2)

    Anatoly Grekov, an investigator of the Central Investigation Department of the city of Tolyatti, of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Samara Region, initiates a criminal case under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation against 52-year-old Elena Yurenkova.

  • #
    May 16, 2023 Search Interrogation

    Investigator Grekov initiates searches of believers in Tolyatti, including Elena Yurenkova. Electronic devices, data carriers, the Bible and personal records with typewritten and handwritten text are seized from her. The believer is interrogated in the investigative department of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Samara Region.

  • #
    June 5, 2023 Art. 282.2 (2)

    Investigator N. G. Sysoeva charges Yelena Yurenkova with "participation in the activities of a religious association ... who carried out extremist activities." This is how the investigation interprets the peaceful worship services of citizens exercising the constitutional right of the Russian Federation to jointly profess religion.

  • #
    July 21, 2023 Case went to court

    The criminal case goes to the Central District Court of Tolyatti. It will be considered by judge Anastasia Fedorova.

  • #
    August 23, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The hearings in the case of Elena Yurenkova begin. The judge grants the defendant's request to be given the opportunity to comment when examining the evidence.

    The prosecutor reads out the charge, the defendant expresses her attitude to it.

  • #
    November 28, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance Interrogation Secret witness

    The questioning of prosecution witnesses begins. The first to be interrogated is the secret witness I. I. Ivanov.

  • #
    February 2, 2024 Hearing in a court of the first instance Interrogation

    Interrogation of the daughter of Elena Yurenkova, who does not share the beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses. The girl characterizes her mother positively.

    Also being questioned is expert Lenar Galiev, an associate professor at the Department of History and Methods of Teaching, who claims that the use of the biblical name Jehovah God is not a manifestation of faith, but an indication of belonging to a legal entity (Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia).

    The court attaches the text of the defense's petition on the jurisprudence of international and Russian courts, the position of state authorities, as well as scientific information regarding the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses.

    The court is reviewing two DVDs of worship services.

  • #
    March 1, 2024 Prosecutor requested punishment

    The prosecutor is requesting a sentence for Yelena Yurenkova — 4 years in a general regime colony and 1 year of restriction of freedom.

  • #
    March 22, 2024 Final statement First Instance Sentence Art. 282.2 (2) Secret witness Tapping and hidden surveillance Suspended sentence

    "Thanks to Bible teaching, I have gained meaning in life, confidence in the future, and learned to relate to people with great understanding," Elena Yurenkova speaks in court with her last word.