Case of Melnikov in Ussuriysk

Case history

Intelligence officers gained access to telephone conversations of Sergey Melnikov from Ussuriysk, which he conducted from April to June 2018. Later, they introduced agent provocateur Konstantin Belousov, who asked Sergey to tell him about the Bible. In June 2019, the believer was detained in his own car. Investigator E. S. Marvanyuk charged him with organizing the activities of an extremist organization, and later investigator V. V. Golsky reclassified the charge to participation in the activities of an extremist organization. The believer spent 122 days in a pre-trial detention center, 145 days under house arrest and then was placed under recognizance agreement. The prosecutor returned the case for further investigation. In the summer of 2020, the case was submitted to the Ussuriysk District Court of Primorsky Krai. On February 3, 2022, Judge Dmitry Babushkin sentenced Sergey Melnikov to 3 years of suspended sentence. The appellate court upheld this verdict in May 2022. In December of the same year, the Court of Cassation of Ussuriysk upheld the verdict.

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    May 8, 2019

    Investigator of the Investigative Directorate for the city of Ussuriysk of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Primorsky Territory Marvanyuk E.S. initiates a criminal case against Sergey Melnikov under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (organization of activities of an extremist organization).

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    June 5, 2019

    Sergey Melnikov is detained in his own car during a conversation with a man whom he met over the past year and who, together with his two friends, took him out to talk about faith. After the arrest, Sergey's house is searched, his laptop and phones are seized. The court chooses a measure of restraint in the form of detention. He was sent to pre-trial detention center No. 2 in Ussuriysk.

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    June 10, 2019
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    October 4, 2019

    Judge of the Ussuriysk District Court Galina Lazareva changes the measure of restraint for Sergey Melnikov from detention to house arrest. The case against the peaceful believer has not been closed, he still faces up to 10 years in prison.

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    October 9, 2019
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    February 25, 2020

    Investigator of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Primorsky Territory V.V. Golsky reclassifies the charge from Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation to Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

    The measure of restraint for Sergei Melnikov was changed from house arrest to recognizance not to leave.

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    March 27, 2020

    It becomes known that the prosecutor's office returned the case of Sergei Melnikov for further investigation. The Investigative Committee should conduct a linguistic examination of the case.

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    June 8, 2020

    Sergey Melnikov and his lawyer receive the indictment for review.

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    June 11, 2020

    The case goes to the Ussuriysk District Court of Primorsky Krai. It will be considered by judge Dmitry Babushkin.

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    July 22, 2020 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    Referee: Dmitry Babushkin. Ussuriysk District Court of Primorsky Krai (95 Frunze St., Ussuriysk).

    The first court hearing is held. The judge granted Sergey Melnikov's request to include the Opinion of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

    The motion to terminate the criminal prosecution and to refuse a lawyer shall be rejected. The prosecutor announces the charges. The defendant expresses his attitude to the charge.

    Sergey says that after becoming one of Jehovah's Witnesses, he became a member of an international theocratic religious organization: "An international religious organization is not a legal organization. This is the general canonical name adopted in the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses, which means all the inhabitants of the earth who are servants of Jehovah God ... This organization is engaged in worldwide biblical educational activities... This preaching campaign was started by Jesus Christ in the first century A.D."

    Sergey recalls that earlier in his testimony, Konstantin Belousov confirmed that Sergey did not impose on him conversations about the Bible and did not encourage him to become Jehovah's Witness. Defendant Melnikov explains: "This accusation is puzzling, to say the least. The investigator accuses me of teaching K.E. Belousov the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses, which is not actually prohibited on the territory of the Russian Federation.

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    December 4, 2020 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    Referee: Dmitry Babushkin. Ussuriysk District Court of Primorsky Krai (95 Frunze St., Ussuriysk).

    The prosecutor states that the remaining prosecution witnesses will not be questioned, as they are not witnesses to the events.

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    February 4, 2021 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    Referee: Dmitry Babushkin. Ussuriysk District Court of Primorsky Krai (95 Frunze St., Ussuriysk).

    The court listens to audio recordings of Sergey's conversations with Konstantin Belousov (FSB agent) on biblical topics. The files were obtained during operational search activities called "Operational Experiment", conducted from December 2018 to June 2019.

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    May 17, 2021 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    Referee: Dmitry Babushkin. Ussuriysk District Court of Primorsky Krai (95 Frunze St., Ussuriysk).

    The judge, at the request of the defence, attaches the Resolution of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

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    September 15, 2021 Prosecutor requested punishment

    The court hearings, at which the debate was to begin, did not take place due to the illness of the defendant.

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    November 16, 2021 Prosecutor requested punishment

    During the debate of the parties, the prosecutor requests a 4-year suspended sentence for Sergey Melnikov.

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    February 3, 2022 Final statement First Instance Sentence

    The believer delivers the last word.

    The judge of the Ussuriysk District Court of Primorsky Krai, Dmitry Babushkin, finds Sergey Melnikov guilty and sentences him to 3 years probation.

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    May 12, 2022 Court of Appeal

    The Primorsky Regional Court in Vladivostok approves the verdict to Sergei Melnikov.

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    December 13, 2022 Court of Cassation

    The Court of Cassation in Ussuriysk upheld the sentence to Sergey Melnikov - 3 years of suspended imprisonment. Earlier, such a sentence was passed on the believer by the Ussuriysk District Court of Primorsky Krai.