Korotun case in Seversk

Case history

In July 2020, in Seversk, officers of the Investigative Committee and the FSB raided Yevgeniy Korotun’s apartment. During a long search, Yevgeniy’s wife and their nine-year-old son were kept in the stairway. A day earlier, a criminal case was initiated against the believer. Yevgeniy spent two days in a temporary detention center and 54 days under house arrest, after which he was sent to a pre-trial detention center. He was accused of organizing the activities of an extremist organization because he held peaceful worship services. The basis for the accusation was hidden audio and video recordings made by Kira Klisheva and Yelena Studenova, an officer of the Russian National Guard. Both women feigned an interest in the Bible. At the end of March 2021, the case went to the city court. In January 2022, the court sentenced the believer to seven years in prison. The appellate and cassation courts upheld this decision. The believer is serving his sentence in a penal colony in Nizhny Tagil.

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    2018–2019

    Elena Studenova, an employee of the Russian Guard, as well as Kira Klisheva, pretending to be interested in the Bible, communicate with believers in Seversk and keep secret recordings of conversations on a dictaphone and a mobile phone camera.

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    July 13, 2020

    A. Vyshegorodtsev, an investigator for particularly important cases of the Investigation Department for the North-West Administrative Unit of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Tomsk Region, initiates a criminal case against a local resident Yevgeny Korotun under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. He interrogates Studenova and Klisheva, who reports that "Korotun was elected leader in the course of voting," despite the fact that such a procedure is not provided for in the practice of holding worship services of Jehovah's Witnesses.

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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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    July 15, 2020

    Judge of the Seversk City Court of the Tomsk Region Chebotareva S.V. satisfies the petition of the investigator for especially important cases of the investigation department for the Investigative Committee of the Tomsk Region of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Tomsk Region Vyshegorodtsev A.N. on the election of a preventive measure for Yevgeny Korotun.

    The believer is placed under house arrest for 1 month and 30 days (until September 13, 2020). The court also prohibits the use of any means of communication, as well as communication with all persons except close relatives, a lawyer and an investigator. Eugene is allowed to leave the house for walks, utility bills and to the store for no more than 2 hours.

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    September 7, 2020

    The Seversky City Court of the Tomsk Region decides to take Yevgeny Korotun into custody. This happens at a court session, about which the believer is warned only half an hour before the start of the hearing.

    During the trial, Yevgeny is accused of putting pressure on witnesses without any argumentation or evidence. Since Yevgeniy has a passport, it is alleged that he "can hide from the investigation."

    The judge considers such arguments significant and changes the measure of restraint from house arrest to detention. The believer is sent to pre-trial detention center No. 1 in Tomsk.

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    March 25, 2021

    Senior investigator Major L. N. Retunskaya summons Sergey Belousov and Andrey Kolesnichenko for interrogation to the investigative department as suspects in a criminal case.

    Senior investigator E. A. Yolokhova summons Alexei Ershov and Andrey Ledyaikin for interrogation to the investigation department as a suspect in a criminal case.

    A. G. Kolpakov, Investigator for Particularly Important Cases of the Investigative Committee of the Investigative Committee, notifies believers Aleksey Ershov, Andrey Kolesnichenko, Andrey Ledyaykin and Sergey Belousov that a criminal case has been opened against them on the grounds of a crime in accordance with Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

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    March 31, 2021

    The case is submitted to the Seversky City Court of the Tomsk Region for consideration by Judge Svetlana Chebotareva.

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    April 12, 2021

    Judge Chebotareva extends the measure of restraint for Yevgeniy Korotun in the form of detention until September 30, 2021.

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    April 23, 2021

    The first hearing on the merits of the case of Yevgeny Korotun. The court satisfies the lawyer's request for additional acquaintance with the case materials. To do this, Korotun will be brought from the Tomsk pre-trial detention center. The next meeting is scheduled for May 5.

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    April 27, 2021

    The Tomsk Regional Court dismissed the lawyer's complaint about the extension of Korotun's detention.

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    September 3, 2021

    The Seversky City Court extends Yevgeny's preventive measure in the form of detention in a pre-trial detention center until December 30. The judge satisfies the prosecutor's request to appoint a psychological and psychiatric examination for the believer.

    After the court hearing, 14 fellow believers, who came to support Yevgeniy and his wife, but were not allowed to attend the court session, are waiting for the paddy wagon to take the believer back to the pre-trial detention center.

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    September 7, 2021

    The lawyer visits Yevgeniy Korotun in the pre-trial detention center. The believer feels satisfied. Employees of the pre-trial detention center treat him with respect. Yevgeniy was transferred to a larger solitary confinement cell measuring 2.7 m by 2.7 m. He receives all letters and parcels, and also communicates with his wife once a month during short-term visits. The believer misses his 10-year-old son very much.

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    November 23, 2021 Prosecutor requested punishment

    During the debate in the Seversky City Court, the prosecutor requested a sentence of 7 years in prison in a penal colony and 2 years of restriction of liberty for Yevgeny Korotun.

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    December 16, 2021

    Eugene speaks in the debate.

    At the next hearing, scheduled for December 24, the defendant is scheduled to make his last speech. On the same day, the court may issue a verdict.

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    December 24, 2021 Final statement First Instance Sentence

    During the court session, the issue of extending the measure of restraint to Yevgeny Korotun is being considered. He remains in custody.

    Judge Svetlana Chebotareva grants Yevgeny's request to postpone the court hearing in connection with the death of his mother-in-law and postpones her final speech until January 19, 2022.

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    January 1, 2022

    It becomes known that Yevgeny Korotun arrived at SIZO-1 in Novosibirsk. There he is awaiting transfer to correctional colony No. 13 of Nizhny Tagil (Sverdlovsk region).

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    January 19, 2022
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    January 20, 2022

    Judge of the Seversky City Court of the Tomsk Region Svetlana Chebotareva finds 51-year-old Yevgeny Korotun guilty of organizing the activities of an extremist organization and sentences him to 7 years in prison

    The court also deprives the believer of the right to engage in educational activities in all types of educational institutions for 5 years and imposes an additional restriction of liberty for 1 year: after serving his term, the believer during this time will not be able to attend and participate in places of mass, sports, cultural and entertainment events, change his place of residence and leave it at night.

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    March 21, 2022 Court of Appeal

    Only Yevgeny's wife is allowed into the meeting room. About 30 more caring people are outside the courthouse.

    During the appeal debate, the prosecutor asks the court to change one of the wording of the verdict, namely: instead of a ban on educational activities, impose a ban on pedagogical work.

    Yevgeny participates in the debate via video link.

    At the next hearing, the believer plans to deliver a final appellate speech, after which the court is expected to render a decision.

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    April 11, 2022 Court of Appeal

    Yevgeny Korotun takes the floor for debate.

    According to the court's decision, Yevgeniy's last word will be heard on May 16, 2022.

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    May 16, 2022 Final statement

    The Tomsk Regional Court approves the verdict against Yevgeny Korotun.

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    June 3, 2022

    The lawyer visits Yevgeny Korotun in SIZO-1 in Tomsk. The believer is kept in cold solitary confinement.

    Eugene describes his physical condition as "generally good, only occasional severe headaches." He has a heart condition, but lately there have been no special complaints. Korotun says, "My biggest worry is that I don't see—and won't see for a long time—how my son is growing. And the years that I could have spent with my family cannot be returned..."

    In the pre-trial detention center, Yevgeniy is treated with respect. He has a Bible and receives a large number of letters of support.

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    July 14, 2022 Life in prison

    Yevgeny Korotun is being transferred from pre-trial detention center No. 1 in Tomsk to correctional colony No. 13 in Nizhny Tagil, where he will serve his sentence. He is currently in quarantine.

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    July 18, 2022 Life in prison

    The lawyer visits Yevgeny Korotun in IK-13 in the Sverdlovsk region, located in Nizhny Tagil. This is a penal colony of general regime for former employees of law enforcement and administrative bodies.

    Yevgeniy says that the journey from the Tomsk pre-trial detention center to this colony took 18 days. A significant part of it Yevgeny rode in the so-called "Stolypin car" - without windows. Sometimes there were 12 people in a 6-seater compartment, so the prisoners had to sleep in turns. During a stop in the Yekaterinburg colony, the believer was placed in a punishment cell for one night, since the prisoners were brought in late in the evening, and "it takes a long time to breed them in cells."

    In the colony in Nizhny Tagil, both the administration and other prisoners treated the believer with respect. After quarantine, upon arrival, Yevgeniy was assigned to a detachment of 58 people. They do not use foul language, and go out to smoke. Some prisoners ask Yevgeniy to pray for them and their families.

    Eugene has the opportunity to read the Bible. From the very first days of his stay in the colony, he receives letters of support, there are as many of them "as all the other prisoners combined." Other convicts are surprised by such a large amount of correspondence.

    The colony has equipment for communicating with relatives via video link. Thanks to this, Eugene saw his son for the first time in a long time. Soon he will have a three-day date with his wife.

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    December 12, 2022 Life in prison

    The address for correspondence to Yevgeny Korotun has been clarified. Now you can write to him through the Zonatelecom system.

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    March 9, 2023 Life in prison

    Yevgeniy's health improved, his blood pressure returned to normal. He has already received more than 8,000 letters. Yevgeny has good relations with other convicts and with the administration. He is pleased with the opportunity to call his family almost every day via video link.

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    March 16, 2023
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    September 15, 2023 Life in prison Incentive Letters

    Yevgeny Korotun has proven himself well in the colony and has already received 2 awards. He works as an area cleaner and handyman 6 days a week.

    Having expressed a desire to file a petition for parole (parole), Korotun immediately received an unjustified penalty (a number of penalties prevent the prisoner from receiving parole). The believer asked the court to replace the rest of the sentence with forced labor, but he was refused.

    Eugene rejoices when his wife and son come to him for long visits: "It gives a lot of strength and positive emotions." The believer has a Bible. He receives a large number of letters.