Case of Zelenskiy and Others in Ulyanovsk

Case history

In 2019, the FSB in Ulyanovsk opened a case against the Mysins and their co-religionists Zelensky, Tabakov, Ganin and Khachikyan. After the searches, they were sent to jail and later under house arrest. In addition, savings and cars worth 1.5 million rubles were seized from believers. The charge under Article 282.2 was limited to participation in “activities that included religious chanting, preaching, study of the article and prayer.” Believers were seriously worried about the repressions, Sergey Mysin, who spent 2 months behind bars, ended up in intensive care. The state prosecutor recommended that all six be sent to a general regime colony for terms ranging from 3 to 7 years, as well as confiscate the seized property and money. The court of first instance sentenced them to suspended imprisonment for terms of up to 3.5 years. The court of appeal increased the suspended sentence for Sergey Mysin by six months - up to 4 years - and left the sentences unchanged for the rest of the believers.

  • #
    September 2017

    The Investigative Committee of Ulyanovsk begins operational-search measures against several peaceful believers. Their telephone conversations are tapped.

  • #
    February 24, 2019

    The Investigation Department of the FSB of Russia for the Ulyanovsk Region initiates a criminal case for faith under Articles 282.2 (1), 282.2 (2). Sergey Mysin (born in 1965), Natalia Mysina (born in 1971), Andrey Tabakov (born in 1973), Khoren Khachikyan (born in 1985), Mikhail Zelensky (born in 1960), Alexander Ganin (born in 1957) are accused of "promoting the popularization of the ideas of Jehovah's Witnesses", finding places to meet with fellow believers and participating in such meetings.

  • #
    February 27, 2019

    At about 5 a.m., security forces search the apartment of Mikhail Zelensky in Syzran (Samara region, about 150 km from Ulyanovsk). After that, he is taken away in an unknown direction.

    At about 8 o'clock in the morning, the Mysin spouses receive a phone call: Natalia and Sergey are asked to go outside, since their car is allegedly damaged. As soon as Sergey opens the door, a group of law enforcement officers burst into their apartment. A search is being conducted at the Mysins' homes and electronic devices are being seized. Then law enforcement officers and witnesses are sent to search the elderly mother of Natalia.

    Meanwhile, searches are also being conducted in the apartments of the Khachikyan and Tabakovs. As a result of the operation, five believers were detained: Mikhail Zelensky, Sergey and Natalya Mysins, Khoren Khachikyan and Andrey Tabakov. They are taken to the temporary detention facility.

  • #
    February 28, 2019

    At about 14:00, court hearings begin as a measure of restraint. Friends and relatives of the defendants greet them with applause. Despite the many illnesses of Mysin Sergey, Svetlana Chebukina, the judge of the Leninsky District Court of Ulyanovsk leaves him in custody for 2 months - until 04/23/2019.

    The rest of the defendants, Mysina Natalia, Tabakov Andrey, Khachikyan Khoren and Zelensky Mikhail, are chosen a measure of restraint in the form of house arrest. Lawyers prepare appeals.

  • #
    March 1, 2019
  • #
    March 16, 2019

    At night, against the background of the stress experienced by the already poor health, Sergey Mysin becomes ill, he is placed in the infirmary. In the morning, Sergey's son and a lawyer urgently arrive at the pre-trial detention center, whom the paramedic assures that the prisoner's condition is "normal".

  • #
    March 17, 2019

    Sergey Mysin is transferred from the infirmary back to his cell. According to the doctor of the pre-trial detention center, he still needs a special diet and further treatment.

  • #
    April 18, 2019

    Court hearings are being held as a measure of restraint for Sergey Mysin and Andrey Tabakov. About 70 people come to support the defendants, but only a few of them manage to attend the trial. Sergey's lawyer is petitioning for the defendant to be placed under house arrest, and the prosecution is requesting an extension of the terms of detention in the pre-trial detention center. The court satisfies the lawyer's petition, deciding to soften the measure of restraint for Sergey Mysin and transfer him to house arrest from April 23, 2019.

    On the same day, the judge of the Zheleznodorozhny District Court of Ulyanovsk, Dmitry Guryanov, chooses a preventive measure for Andrey Tabakov in the form of a ban on certain actions for 2 months, that is, until June 23, 2019 inclusive.

  • #
    April 19, 2019

    At the court hearing, the court chooses a measure of restraint for Natalia Mysina and Khoren Khachikyan in the form of a ban on certain actions. Natalia is not allowed to leave the house from 20:00 to 7:00 the next day, as well as use any means of communication. Khoren is also forbidden to use mail, telephone, Internet and leave the house from 19:00 to 7:00 the next day.

  • #
    April 21, 2019

    On the night of April 21-22, Sergey Mysin was released from the pre-trial detention center under house arrest. He will live with relatives, and not with his wife.

  • #
    April 22, 2019

    The court softens the measure of restraint for Mikhail Zelensky. House arrest has been replaced by a ban on certain actions. He can not use the phone, Internet, mail, and leave the house at night - from 20:00 to 8:00 the next day.

  • #
    April 29, 2019

    Appeal hearings are underway regarding the measure of restraint for Andrey Tabakov and Mikhail Zelensky. The court leaves Tabakov under house arrest, and Zelensky reduces the ban on certain actions by two days.

  • #
    May 15, 2019

    In the morning, FSB officers searched the house of another believer in Ulyanovsk, 62-year-old Ganin Alexander. After that, Aleksandr is arrested and taken to a temporary detention facility.

  • #
    May 16, 2019

    The judge of the Leninsky District Court of the city of Ulyanovsk, Yulia Poladova, chooses for Ganin a measure of restraint in the form of a ban on certain actions: until June 23, he is obliged to stay at home from 16:00 to 9:00 the next day, he cannot use the telephone and the Internet, as well as communicate with participants in criminal proceedings.

  • #
    May 17, 2019
  • #
    June 7, 2019

    The Ganin family receives a written refusal to request the return of electronic devices, as well as to provide a copy of the search protocol.

  • #
    June 14, 2019

    A second court hearing is being held on the election of a measure of restraint for Alexander Ganin. It is left the same - the prohibition of certain actions.

  • #
    June 17, 2019

    The court extends the measure of restraint for the spouses Mysin, as well as Tabakov, Khachikyan, Zelensky for two months. Andrey Tabakov and Sergey Mysin remain under house arrest. Mikhail Zelensky, Natalia Mysina and Khoren Khachikyan are banned from certain actions.

  • #
    July 13, 2019

    The investigator summons 8 witnesses for questioning. The investigator refuses to give copies of the interrogation, stating that this is "not allowed".

  • #
    August 16, 2019

    A hearing is underway to extend the measure of restraint for Sergey Mysin, Alexander Ganin, Mikhail Zelensky and Andrey Tabakov.

    The court softens the measure of restraint for Sergey Mysin from house arrest to a ban on certain actions. Now he can leave the house from 8:00 to 20:00 hours.

    The ban on certain actions of Mikhail Zelensky and Oleksandr Ganin has been extended until 21.10.2019 and until 23.10.2019, respectively.

  • #
    October 11, 2019

    All defendants are issued orders for the seizure of property. The Mysin family had money worth about half a million rubles and a car arrested, Tabakov had 600 thousand rubles in his bank account, and Ganin, Zelensky and Khachikyan had cars arrested.

  • #
    October 14, 2019

    The court leaves the preventive measures the same for all six accused and extends them for another two months. Believers prepare appeals.

    Sergey Mysin is hospitalized in connection with another exacerbation of the disease. In view of this, he is not present at the trial, his interests are represented by a lawyer.

  • #
    October 16, 2019

    Sergey Mysin's health condition continues to deteriorate. He ends up in intensive care.

  • #
    October 21, 2019

    An appeal hearing is underway in the case of all six believers. 70 people come to support them. The court softens the measure of restraint, now believers are not restricted in the right to leave the house from 6:00 to 22:00.

    In order to put pressure on Mysin, FSB officers visit the hospital where he is and insist on stopping treatment. Despite his poor condition, the doctors send Sergey home.

  • #
    December 18, 2019

    As a result of the court hearing on the extension of the measure of restraint for all six believers, the judge of the Leninsky District Court of Ulyanovsk decides: to extend the term of the measure of restraint for Mysin Sergey and Zelensky Mikhail in the form of a ban on certain actions until 02/21/2020, and for Khoren Khachikyan, Mysina Natalia, Andrey Tabakov and Alexander Ganin until 02/23/2020.

  • #
    February 21, 2020

    The judge of the Leninsky District Court of Ulyanovsk extends the term of the preventive measure for Sergey Mysin and Mikhail Zelensky in the form of a ban on certain actions until 04/21/2020, and Khoren Khachikyan, Natalia Mysina, Andrey Tabakov and Alexander Ganin until 04/23/2020.

  • #
    April 15, 2020

    The prosecutor's office of the Ulyanovsk region approves the indictment and sends the criminal case to the Zasviyazhsky District Court of Ulyanovsk.

  • #
    April 17, 2020

    Judge of the Zasviyazhsky District Court Inga Leontieva extends the measure of restraint for the accused for six months - until October 6, 2020. The seizure of believers' property also remains.

  • #
    June 9, 2020

    Listeners, including close relatives, are not allowed to attend the session of the Zasviyazhsky District Court of the city of Ulyanovsk due to the epidemic of coronavirus infection.

    Judge Galina Soshkina rejects the defendants' request for the admission of a lawyer by agreement, citing the fact that this lawyer can defend only one of them - Sergey Mysin. According to believers, this violates their right to defense, which includes the ability to involve lawyers of their choice with the necessary experience and knowledge.

    A break is announced until June 25, 2020.

  • #
    June 26, 2020

    During the court hearing, the prosecutor reads out the indictment. The defendants declare their attitude to the prosecution: they do not admit guilt.

    The interrogation of two detectives who participated in searches of believers, as well as in surveillance of them, begins. One of them gives vague testimony, and the judge is forced to ask what exactly in the actions of the defendants he considers a manifestation of extremism.

  • #
    June 29, 2020

    The questioning of prosecution witnesses is ongoing. FSB operative Sergei Antonov explains the essence of the claims against believers: they introduced people to the Holy Scriptures, carried out joint or personal worship services based on it, and were engaged in religious training. Another sign of extremism, according to Antonov, is the desire of believers to be "not prone to aggression, peaceful, honest and highly moral." The basis for initiating the criminal case was "an event that included religious chant and sermon, joint study of the article and a closing prayer."

    The following prosecution witnesses, FSB officers S. A. Svinenkov, K. S. Kretz, and R. S. Kodyushev, talk about searches in the homes of believers in which they participated. When asked by the judge about the presence of signs of extremism in the seized materials, Kodyushev replies that he cannot give any assessment of this.

  • #
    June 30, 2020

    Interrogations of prosecution witnesses, FSB officers M. S. Semenov, E. Y. Ilyukhin, D. V. Salifanov, D. N. Petrov, A. R. Zalyalov, S. V. Bykin.

    The materials of the case are being investigated, including Mysin's speech at a religious meeting on how to be "in good standing with God."

    Answering the question of the defense, Semyonov explained that his duties do not include the opposition of citizens professing the doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses.

    FSB officers Salifanov and Petrov do not see the difference between opposing a banned organization and opposing citizens who peacefully profess the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses.

    FSB officer Bykin, a technical specialist, explains that the use of computer programs found on believers' electronic devices is not illegal.

  • #
    July 2, 2020

    The first hearing after the lifting of quarantine restrictions - about 20 people are present in the hall.

    Prosecution witnesses are being questioned. The materials of the case are being examined: transcripts of home Bible studies overheard in the Mysins' apartment.

    Witness Ozhgikhin explains the difference between the LRO, which consisted of a small number of people who wanted to help, including in economic activities, and certain groups of believers who existed in Ulyanovsk. The latter independently carried out the confession and dissemination of faith without any dependence on this legal entity. Answering a question about extremism, Ozhgikhin explains: "Jehovah's Witnesses are benevolent and creative. Meetings always taught how to help others. We respect the authorities and the courts, we comply with all the instructions, we pay all taxes." When asked by the judge why Jehovah's Witnesses were banned then, Ozhgikhin answers with a quote from the Bible: "All who want to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."

  • #
    July 3, 2020

    Interrogations of prosecution witnesses N. N. Mamkina, N. A. Belaya, E. G. Kobzeva.

    After that, the defense requests in advance to interrogate secret witnesses on a general basis, as it is sure that they are operational officers. The style of their testimony is fully consistent with the presentation and style used in the work of the FSB. The court dismisses the petition.

    The written materials of the case are read out - transcripts of secret wiretapping of conversations of believers.

    Then the witness Mamkina, who last met with the defendant Tabakov in 2006, is invited. While confirming that she had little contact with him, she nevertheless recognises his voice in a recording reproduced during her interrogation during the investigation. In court, Mamkina cannot explain how, 14 years later, she manages to determine that this individual sound, with its own pitch, strength and timbre, belongs to a person with whom she has never had a close relationship. The witness cannot recall that Tabakov expressed hatred towards representatives of other faiths or called for illegal actions.

    Witness Belaya last saw the defendant Zelensky in 2002. She said bluntly that she dislikes the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses.

    Witness Kobzeva, witnessed during a search of Zelensky's apartment, cannot answer many questions because she does not remember all the details. She is upset that she was summoned to court.

  • #
    July 6, 2020

    Interrogations of witnesses Pozdnyakova E. M., Klimova N. N. Study of written evidence by the prosecution.

    Witness Pozdnyakov, who was witnessed during the search in Tabakov's apartment, confuses the date of the search and the name of the second witness, and also does not identify the person who was searched. With regard to the seized literature, he remembers only the color of the cover of one publication, but cannot say anything about its content and the presence of signs of extremism in it.

    Witness Klimova, head of the gastroenterology department of the Ulyanovsk Regional Hospital, testifies about Mysin's treatment in this institution. He did not refuse treatment, took all prescribed drugs. Klimova cannot explain anything about the essence of the LRO meetings, since she was not even familiar with the patient during this period; I did not see that he showed aggression or hatred towards representatives of other faiths.

  • #
    July 7, 2020

    The questioning of prosecution witnesses is ongoing. Witness E. N. Goncharenko, who was a witness during the search at the place of residence of Mikhail Zelensky in the city of Syzran, does not recognize any of the defendants.

    The prosecutor begins questioning the witness Volkov and asks about his family members' ties to Jehovah's Witnesses. The prosecutor petitions for the disclosure of Volkov's testimony. The lawyer objects - this will violate the right of a citizen not to testify against himself, his spouse and close relatives. However, Judge Galina Soshkina grants the prosecutor's request. Volkov had never heard of meetings of members of a legal entity, a local religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses in Ulyanovsk.

    The witness admits that the investigator suggested some of the wording for writing in the interrogation protocol, for example, "[Volkov's] wife is a member of a sect, and does not go to church with [him]." Volkov himself evaluates his wife positively: "She cooks, cleans, does everything." In his testimony, the witness also notes that no one forced his wife to attend services of Jehovah's Witnesses.

    The next meetings are scheduled for July 9 and 10, 2020.

    It is planned to continue the questioning of witnesses and the examination of written evidence of the prosecution.

  • #
    July 9, 2020 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    About 10 people come to the hearing in the Zasviyazhsky District Court, but only 4 listeners are allowed into the hall. The court examines 3 witnesses for the prosecution, as well as A. D. Kechaeva and O. V. Embulaeva as specialists.

    The first witness for the prosecution characterizes the accused on the positive side: they emotionally supported her during a difficult period of her life. Their rare meetings were of a friendly private nature, no one forced the witness to study the Bible, the whole initiative came from it. She considers the accused to be good, kind people who are not prone to aggression. The second witness for the prosecution points to the falsification of his testimony in the interrogation protocols and refutes what was said earlier. He emphasizes that pressure was put on him, and the investigator said: "It won't hurt you, say so."

    Specialist A. D. Kechaeva has an education as a teacher of Russian language and literature, and currently works as a cleaner in the FSB, as she is retired. She does not have a diploma granting the right to conduct professional activities in the field of forensic examinations. The expert was engaged in comparing texts only "checking the work of students." She was brought in only to compare the transcripts of believers' conversations with quotations from religious books.

    Specialist O. V. Embulaeva is a full-time expert of the Saratov Expert Bureau, but at the time of the examination in this criminal case she did not have a document granting the right to conduct state forensic examinations. This expert gives a legal assessment of the actions of believers, although the legal assessment is only within the competence of the court. It becomes clear that the expert does not see the difference between the local religious organization (LRO) and individual believers and believes that they were not allowed to gather together after the decision of the Supreme Court.

  • #
    July 10, 2020 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    Due to the epidemiological situation, listeners are not allowed into the courtroom.

    The prosecutor petitions for the interrogation of classified witnesses "Petrov" and "Sergeev". Earlier, the court dismissed the petition of the defense to declassify witnesses, as well as the opportunity to get acquainted with the data on the identity of classified witnesses. (The secrecy of witnesses significantly limits the right of believers to quality protection.) The court on the spot decides to examine witnesses without reading out their testimony.

    "Petrov" bases his testimony on assumptions and vague memories. He has not attended any services since 2018. He answers specific questions from the defense with the phrases "I can't say for sure", "I don't know this".

    "Sergeev" claims that he attended services of Jehovah's Witnesses until 2018, but cannot even remember what the room looked like and where he sat there. Sergeyev tries to present Jehovah's Witnesses in Ulyanovsk as members of the "banned Watch Tower Society." However, Sergeyev cannot give clear answers and explanations on the issues of protection.

  • #
    July 15, 2020

    Interrogation of defense witnesses. Witness U. I., Orthodox by religion, characterizes the defendants Mysins as honest, benevolent and hospitable.

    Witness K.G. explains that the liturgical meeting, which is imputed to Mysin, had nothing to do with the activities of the banned LRO, no one summoned anyone to it, its attendance was voluntary. Contrary to the accusation's claim, worship meetings do not begin with the phrase "our faith is true and yours is wrong."

    Witness B.I., Sergei Mysin's former superior, describes him as calm and reasonable. A valuable specialist. We never talked about religious topics.

    Witness A.E. describes Natalia Mysina as tactful and hospitable. Although they talked about spiritual topics, she did not hear anything from Mysina related to extremism or propaganda of exclusivity.

    Witness O.M. explains that believers discuss the Bible with each other on their own initiative, they are not forced to do so. According to her, Mysin is not "the main Jehovah's Witness of Ulyanovsk."

  • #
    July 16, 2020 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    Continuation of the examination of witnesses. Only 4 students are allowed into the hall due to the epidemiological situation.

    Witness F.S. explains that the meetings of believers are not meetings of the LRO, their attendance is purely voluntary. Elders do not tell other Christians what to do or how to believe. No religious literature has been used since 2015.

    Witness Mysina M., daughter of the defendants Mysin, describes her parents as kind and loving. My father devoted a lot of time to his family, gave gifts, and never refused medical care.

    Witness M. Khachikyan, sister of the defendant Khachikyan, describes him as peaceful, sympathetic, putting the interests of others above his own.

  • #
    July 17, 2020

    Only 4 students are allowed into the hall due to the epidemiological situation.

    The questioning of witnesses is ongoing. B.M. says that Jehovah's Witnesses do not call for breaking off family relationships and refusing medical intervention. The prosecutor continues to ask questions related to the religion of the participants in the trial, for example: "Why is it impossible to learn from God alone, it is necessary to gather?" The defense objects to such questions, but the court does not remove them.

    Witness Zelenska V., wife of the defendant Mikhail Zelensky, characterizes her husband as a generous and hospitable person, a good family man. I never felt the desire to break off family relationships.

    Witness F. L. explains that the meetings of Jehovah's Witnesses are completely voluntary, religious superiority is not promoted at them.

  • #
    July 20, 2020

    Witnesses M. V., K. E., G. S. and T. M. confirm the testimony of previous witnesses and positively characterize the defendants.

    The prosecutor again asks questions about the religious views of witnesses in the case. The defense asks to remove issues related to the internal canonical structure. Lawyer Chernikov reiterates that no one is obliged to report their attitude to religion and cannot be forced to participate or not participate in worship services. He recalls that the court has not yet begun to clarify issues related to the continuation of a religious organization banned by the court. The court does not accept the defense's objections.

  • #
    September 10, 2020 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    Sergey Mysin and Andrey Tabakov read out their testimony before the court. Mysin focuses the court's attention: all the defense witnesses said that they profess their faith not because he or someone else gives them instructions to do so, but because "they perceive this instruction from the pages of the Bible itself." Tabakov says: "It is obvious that the accusation invented by me is passed off as reality, probably counting on the fact that no one understands this and will not understand it." He concludes that Jehovah's Witnesses are not persecuted for a crime, but for the ways in which they express their faith in God.

  • #
    September 11, 2020 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    Defendants Khoren Khachikyan, Mikhail Zelenskiy, Oleksandr Ganin and Natalia Mysina read out their testimony before the court. Zelensky in his speech gives an assessment of what is happening: "The accusation against me is vague and has no clear boundaries. If I am tried for participating in the continuation of the activities of the LRO, then this is one circumstance, and I am ready to defend myself and provide evidence of my non-involvement in this activity. But if I'm on trial for participating in religious life within a religious group under the guise of a banned LRO, then whatever I say to you now is likely to be meaningless, and the verdict is likely to be guilty."

    The judge grants the lawyer's request to summon the FSB officer Valov for questioning.

  • #
    September 14, 2020 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    FSB officer A. S. Valov was interrogated, who had to admit that the video did not show the meeting of the LRO of Jehovah's Witnesses in the city of Ulyanovsk, although he stated this in the inspection report drawn up during the preliminary investigation.

    The judge refuses to satisfy the petition for the replacement of defense counsel by appointment with a defense counsel by agreement, as well as the petition for the study of the case materials. The judge believes that these materials have already been announced by the court and rejects the objections of the lawyer.

  • #
    October 1, 2020 Прения

    During the debate, the prosecutor recommends that the court impose severe punishment on all 6 believers. According to the supervisory authority, Sergey Mysin should go to a general regime colony for 7 years, and his wife, Natalia Mysina, for 3 years and 4 months. Mikhail Zelensky is asked to be sent to jail for 4 years and 6 months, Andrey Tabakov for 4 years, Aleksandr Ganin for 3 years and 6 months, and Khoren Khachikyan for 3 years exactly. In addition, the prosecutor asks to impose a number of additional restrictions on them, for example, after their release from the colony, the prosecutor wants to prohibit them from changing their place of residence for some time, leaving home after 22:00, working in public organizations, etc.

    In addition, the prosecutor asks to confiscate the property and money of believers who have been seized. We are talking about cars and cash savings, the total amount of 1.57 million rubles.

  • #
    October 2, 2020 Final statement

    Six believers address the court with the last word of the defendant.

    Sergey Mysin: "Neither I, nor my family, nor my friends are extremists, and never have been. I have nothing to be ashamed of, and I am not guilty either before the law of my country, or before my conscience, or before the Creator, Jehovah God" (full text).

    Andrey Tabakov: "I don't understand how you can call extremists people who reject any violence even at the cost of their own lives" (full text).

    Khoren Khachikyan: "The stronger the persecution of a sincerely believing Christian, the stronger his faith becomes" (full text).

  • #
    October 8, 2020 First Instance Sentence

    Judge of the Zasviyazhsky District Court of Ulyanovsk, Galina Soshkina, found all six guilty under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

    Sergey Mysin is sentenced to 3 years and 6 months of suspended imprisonment plus 10 months of restriction of liberty, followed by a probationary period of 4 years (his actions were reclassified under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). His wife, Natalya Mysina, is sentenced to 2 years and 2 months of suspended imprisonment plus 7 months of restriction of liberty, followed by a probationary period of 2 years and 6 months.

    Mikhail Zelensky is sentenced to 2 years and 6 months of suspended imprisonment plus 8 months of restriction of freedom, followed by a probationary period of 3 years.

    Andrey Tabakov was sentenced to 3 years and 3 months of suspended imprisonment plus 10 months of restriction of liberty, followed by a probationary period of 4 years.

    Aleksandr Ganin was sentenced to 3 years of suspended imprisonment plus 9 months of restriction of liberty, followed by a probationary period of 3 years.

    Khoren Khachikyan is sentenced to 2 years and 4 months of suspended imprisonment plus 7 months of restriction of liberty, followed by a probationary period of 2 years and 6 months.

    The property of believers has not been confiscated, it has been seized.

  • #
    January 20, 2021 Court of Appeal

    The last word in the Ulyanovsk Regional Court is made by all the defendants, except for Khoren Khachikyan, whose appearance in court is scheduled for January 29.

    "I have been a Jehovah's Witness for 30 years, so I can't understand why the investigation turned me from a believer into a criminal. I could not be called one of Jehovah's Witnesses if I incited hatred among people and did not obey the laws of the land. I cannot be an extremist, because a conscience trained in the Bible does not allow me to even think about it, let alone do it," Mikhail Zelensky told the court.

    "My name has been blackened. Theft of household goods... Rosfinmonitoring blocked the card, I can't use social services, buy bread. [...] Since I was limited in movement, I could not benefit society. Dear court, I ask you to return my good name. [...] I am a victim and the victim is my family. Therefore, I ask you to acquit me and pass a really fair sentence," says Alexander Ganin.

    His co-religionist Sergey Mysin tells the court about how the unfair criminal prosecution affected the life of his family: "I was a respected person, I worked almost all my life in the confectionery industry ... And he was a happy man. Now I am deprived of all this. For 1.5 years I did not have the opportunity to meet with my dear wife Natalia. My family, my children, son Nikita and his wife were forced to emigrate. I tried to give children the best, for example, my son Nikita knows 4 languages, he graduated from the Finance Academy under the Government of the Russian Federation. There was no place for him in our country. I raised a daughter. She's smart, she's a nurse. Helps me when needed. I became disabled because of this persecution. I don't know how long I will live, but I am a happy person and I will accept any of your decisions, but I hope for justice."

    Sergey Mysin's wife Natalia says in her appeal to the judge: "Everyone can choose their religion, have their own beliefs, share them with others, and especially if it is useful for society. People who call for love and peace cannot commit any extremist or terrorist acts."

    "We went through house arrests, bans on certain actions. For example, I lost my job," says Andrei Tabakov.- The investigator included us in the federal list of extremists and terrorists. Now we continue to be on this list. And this is for the fact that we sang songs, gathered together in family and friendly groups of several people.

    The believers ask the court to declare the conviction of the previous instance illegal and acquit them.

    The judge sets a date for the announcement of the appeal decision - January 29.

  • #
    January 29, 2021 Court of Appeal

    Khoren Khachikyan speaks in the Ulyanovsk Regional Court with the last word and asks the court to acquit him, since he has nothing to do with extremism.

    The Ulyanovsk Regional Court, having considered the appeals of 6 believers and the prosecutor's submission, reclassifies the article of the charge against Sergey Mysin to a more serious one - from Part 2 (participation in a banned organization) to Part 1 (organization of activities of a banned organization) of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, although earlier the court of first instance did exactly the opposite. In this regard, the appellate instance increases Mysin's suspended sentence by 6 months, that is, from 3.5 to 4 years of suspended imprisonment. For the rest of the defendants, the verdict of the court of first instance remains the same - a suspended sentence of 2 years and 2 months to 3 years and 3 months. The verdict comes into force.