Case of Vilitkevich in Ufa

Case history

Anatoliy Vilitkevich became one of the first Jehovah’s Witnesses who was imprisoned for his faith. After a series of searches conducted at the homes of believers in Ufa in April 2018, Vilitkevich was placed in a pre-trial detention center for 2 months. The arrest was preceded by surveillance: in the apartment where he lives with his wife, the special services installed hidden video footage. For friendly meetings and communication on spiritual topics with friends, Vilitkevich was accused of organizing the activities of an extremist organization. Since October 2020, the case has been considered in the Leninsky District Court of Ufa. At the hearings, some prosecution witnesses did not recognize the believer, and those who know him expressed disagreement with the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The prosecutor asked the court to sentence Vilitkevich to 7 years in prison. On September 27, 2021, judge Oksana Ilalova sentenced him to 2 years probation with a probation period of 3 years and restriction of liberty for 6 months. On December 16, 2021, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Bashkortostan approved the verdict.

  • #

    October 2017

    In the apartment of Anatoliy Vilitkevich, secret video surveillance is installed in order to identify his secret prayers.

  • #

    November 2017

    Investigators claim that Anatoly Vilitkevich holds biblical discussions with his friends at home.

  • #
    April 2, 2018

    The Leninsky MRSO for the city of Ufa initiates a criminal case under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation against unidentified persons.

  • #
    April 3, 2018

    An investigation team of 5 people is formed. The head of the group Kalimullin D.I.

  • #
    April 5, 2018

    Oksana Ilalova, judge of the Leninsky District Court of Ufa, authorizes 8 searches in her city just because citizens are seen exercising their constitutional right to freedom of religion.

  • #
    April 10, 2018

    Starting from 06:30, 5 searches are carried out in Ufa, as well as 3 more searches near Ufa, in the villages of Krasny Yar and Nikolaevka. Interrogations are being conducted. Anatoliy Vilitkevich was detained. When he is taken away by the police, one of the officers tells his wife that now she will not see him for a long time, and the investigator in the case advises her to "look for a new husband."

  • #
    April 11, 2018

    The Leninsky Interdistrict Investigation Department for the city of Ufa initiates a criminal case under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code against Vilitkevich. Anatoliy Vilitkevich was brought to the criminal case as a defendant under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

  • #
    April 12, 2018

    Larisa Mokhova, judge of the Leninsky District Court of Ufa, makes a decision on the election of a preventive measure for Anatoly Vilitkevich in the form of detention for 54 days. At the same time, the court did not indicate why it was impossible to choose a milder measure, and also did not check the validity of Anatoly Vilitkevich's involvement in the crime imputed to him. Anatoly Vilitkevich was sent to pre-trial detention center No. 1 of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia in the Republic of Bashkortostan.

  • #
    April 16, 2018

    An appeal has been filed against the court's decision to impose a preventive measure in the form of remand in custody. In addition, appeals have been filed against the searches.

  • #
    April 19, 2018

    The Supreme Court of Bashkortostan upholds the decision on the measure of restraint in the form of detention of Anatoly Vilitkevich.

  • #
    April 20, 2018

    Anatoliy Vilitkevich was transferred to special. block, where those arrested under grave and especially grave articles are usually kept. There are two other people in the cell with him.

  • #
    May 14, 2018

    Ufa residents who have been searched file a complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee.

  • #
    June 7, 2018
  • #
    June 20, 2018
  • #
    June 21, 2018

    Judge of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus Karimova F.M. makes an appeal decision to cancel the decision of the Leninsky District Court and choose a measure of restraint for Vilitkevich in the form of house arrest until July 2, 2018.

  • #
    June 22, 2018
  • #
    June 28, 2018

    Judge of the Leninsky District Court Yakupova E.F. makes a decision to extend house arrest until August 2, 2018.

  • #
    July 30, 2018

    The criminal case is transferred for investigation to the first department for the investigation of especially important cases of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Bashkortostan.

  • #
    July 31, 2018

    Mokhovaya L.B., judge of the Leninsky District Court of Ufa, makes a decision to extend Anatoly's house arrest until September 2, 2018.

  • #
    August 6, 2018

    The case is accepted by investigator R.R. Baibikov.

  • #
    January 29, 2019

    The Sovetsky District Court of Ufa extends the house arrest of Anatoliy Vilitkevich.

  • #
    February 28, 2019

    Anatoliy Vilitkevich was released on his own recognizance.

  • #
    August 19, 2020

    Anatoliy Vilitkevich is charged with a new crime under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

  • #
    September 28, 2020

    A new criminal case with an indictment shall be sent to the Prosecutor of the Republic of Bashkortostan.

  • #
    October 14, 2020

    Deputy Prosecutor of the Republic of Bashkortostan Viktor Mikhailovich Loginov approves the indictment on charges of Anatoly Vilitkevich of committing a crime under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

  • #
    November 9, 2020

    Judge of the Leninsky District Court of Ufa Oksana Ilalova is starting to consider the case of Anatoly Vilitkevich. The hearing is postponed because the defendant was not warned about it.

  • #
    February 5, 2021

    The Leninsky District Court of Ufa begins to study the materials of the criminal case against Anatoly Vilitkevich.

    Judge Oksana Ilalova rejects the motion to terminate the proceedings.

    The prosecutor reads excerpts from the volumes of the criminal case, a verbatim transcript of conversations recorded in the believer's apartment, and the conclusions of examinations of religious literature conducted at the request of the Investigative Committee.

    The guilt of the defendant, according to the investigation, lies in the fact that he and his wife invited friends to dinner, chat and watch films on a biblical theme.

    For more than an hour, the prosecutor reads out a transcript of the conversations of the Vilitkevich family, where the spouses discuss everyday issues and preparations for receiving guests. The transcript includes comments: "Anatoly and Alena are in the adjacent room", "Alena is cleaning, then music sounds loudly", "Alena laughs", "Cat, when we sing songs, we need to close the door". The state prosecutor voices remarks about the color and style of clothing of people who were in the room at the time of recording.

  • #
    February 26, 2021

    12 people come to the courthouse to support Anatoliy Vilitkevich, but they are not allowed to attend the hearing due to quarantine.

    Prosecution witnesses are being questioned. The first to be questioned is the director of the House of Culture of the city of Ufa, where believers rented premises for worship even before the Supreme Court banned the activities of legal entities of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia. She notes that when she heard about the ban, she did not believe it, since the administration never had any complaints about the behavior of believers. She also states that she does not believe the accusations of any illegal actions of Jehovah's Witnesses, and calls them rumors.

    Another prosecution witness says that he has never heard from Anatoliy Vilitkevich calls for action against the state, the Constitution, human rights, etc. He is also aware that the denomination of Jehovah's Witnesses is not prohibited and believers have the right to practice their religion.

    Prosecution witness Tereshkin states that he never met with the accused and at the hearing took Vilitkevich for a lawyer. The witness admits that although he does not like the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses, he does not understand why they are being persecuted. After the prosecutor reads out the minutes of Tereshkin's testimony, the witness confirms them only partially, saying that he could not say what was recorded in them. According to him, what he said in court should be considered accurate testimony.

  • #
    March 19, 2021

    A journalist from the local branch of the Kommersant publishing house is allowed to attend the meeting.

    The landlord who rented the apartment to the Vilitkevich family is being interrogated. He says that he has no complaints against the tenants, there have been no complaints from neighbors about them.

  • #
    March 26, 2021

    Alyona Vilitkevich, Anatoly's wife, is being interrogated. She says that she has never heard from her husband statements that would humiliate the dignity of people, calls for the overthrow of state power, etc. According to her, "on the contrary, the Bible teaches that Jehovah's Witnesses should respect state authority and love one another."

  • #
    April 30, 2021

    Another prosecution witness, a 31-year-old woman, is being questioned. She cannot recall her own testimony given earlier and asks the court to read it out. Also, the witness is confused in describing the circumstances and events related to the case.

    The woman says that she never met Anatoly Vilitkevich in person, but only saw him in a photograph. To the question: "Do you know the defendant?" She points to his lawyer, thinking it's Anatoly. Vilitkevich is forced to clarify that the defendant is him.

    The witness also states that she has not been to the services of believers, no one forced her to attend them, she has not heard any calls for illegal actions, and cannot even say what religion she is talking about. However, the interrogation protocols voiced during the meeting contain completely different testimonies. This raises suspicions among the lawyer that there is a fabrication of the testimony of a witness.

  • #
    September 8, 2021 Prosecutor requested punishment Final statement

    The debate of the parties is taking place. Prosecutor Galiya Karimova requests 7 years in a general regime colony for Anatoliy Vilitkevich. She calls holding friendly meetings and communicating on spiritual topics with friends extremist activity.

    The defendant considers himself innocent.

  • #
    September 22, 2021
  • #
    September 27, 2021 First Instance Sentence

    Judge of the Leninsky District Court Oksana Ilalova finds Anatoliy Vilitkevich guilty of organizing the activities of a banned organization and sentences him to 2 years probation with a probation period of 3 years and restriction of liberty for 6 months.

  • #
    December 16, 2021 Court of Appeal

    The Supreme Court of the Republic of Bashkortostan leaves the decision of the lower court unchanged. The verdict comes into force.