Case of Osadchuk and Others in Vladivostok

Case history

In April 2018, the Federal Security Service of Russia for the Primorye Territory opened a criminal case against Jehovah’s Witnesses from Vladivostok. Believers were searched. Valentyn Osadchuk spent 9 months in pre-trial detention and 77 days under house arrest. In April 2019, he was accused of organizing the activities of an extremist organization, and 6 elderly women — Lyubov Galaktionova, Nailya Kogai, Nina Purga, Nadezhda Anoykina, Raisa Usanova and Yelena Zayshchuk — were accused of participating in it. Soon the case was received by the Leninsky District Court, but a month later the judge returned it to the prosecutor. This decision was upheld twice by the appellate court. Since January 2021, the case has been re-examined in the same court by Maksim Anufriev. With regard to Zayshchuk, the case was suspended due to her advanced age and state of health. In May 2022, the prosecutor requested a sentence of 6.5 years in prison for Valentin Osadchuk, and a 5-year suspended sentence for women. In June, the court sentenced the believers to suspended sentences ranging from 2 to 6 years. In September 2022, the appeal upheld the verdict.

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    April 9, 2018

    The Investigative Department of the FSB of Russia for the Primorsky Territory is initiating a criminal case on extremism. One of the defendants is Valentin Osadchuk.

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    April 19, 2018

    As part of the criminal case, a series of searches are taking place in Vladivostok, during which FSB officers interrogate 83-year-old Yelena Zaishchuk, 66-year-old Nailya Kogay and 42-year-old Valentin Osadchuk. Law enforcement officers take a written undertaking not to leave the place from elderly women, and Osadchuk was detained for 48 hours.

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    April 23, 2018

    The Frunzensky District Court of Vladivostok sends Valentin Osadchuk to a pre-trial detention center.

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    April 27, 2018

    Valentin Osadchuk was charged with participation in the activities of an organization banned by a court decision.

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    January 18, 2019

    The Primorsky Regional Court softens the measure of restraint and transfers Osadchuk to house arrest until March 9, 2019.

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    March 4, 2019

    The Frunzensky District Court extends the term of Osadchuk's house arrest for a month, that is, until April 9. The court also relaxed a number of prohibitions, allowing Valentin a 2-hour walk and allowing him to see some relatives.

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    April 1, 2019

    Tunyk, a senior investigator of the Directorate of the FSB Directorate for the Primorsky Territory, changes the charge - now Osadchuk is charged not with participation, but with organizing the activities of a banned community.

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    April 5, 2019

    Senior investigator of the Investigative Department for the Primorsky Territory Tunyk softens the measure of restraint for Osadchuk from house arrest to recognizance not to leave.

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    April 16, 2019
    Investigative actions are being completed. The next stage is to familiarize all the accused with the materials of the criminal case and transfer the case to the prosecutor for approval of the indictment and referral to the court. The court seizes the property of Valentin Osadchuk.
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    April 2019

    Six more women aged 61 to 84 were charged with extremism in this case, namely Nadezhda Anoykina, Lyubov Galaktionova, Yelena Zaishchuk, Naila Kogai, Nina Purga, Raisa Usanova.

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    October 23, 2019

    In the Leninsky District Court of Vladivostok, the preliminary hearing in the case of Osadchuk and others continues.

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    October 24, 2019

    The prosecution submits its objections to the return of the case to the prosecutor.

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    November 12, 2019 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The court satisfies the motion of the defense. The criminal case is returned to the prosecutor's office.

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    January 27, 2020

    The Primorsky Regional Court upholds the decision of the Leninsky District Court of Vladivostok to return the criminal case to the prosecutor.

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    April 20, 2020

    The Ninth Court of Cassation of General Jurisdiction, located in Vladivostok, postpones the consideration of the cassation appeal of the prosecutor's office against the refusal of the Leninsky District Court of Vladivostok to consider the merits of the case of Osadchuk and others and to return the case to the prosecutor's office. The meeting is postponed to May 13, 2020.

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    May 13, 2020

    Due to the self-isolation regime caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Ninth Court of Cassation postpones the consideration of the complaint of the prosecutor's office to June 1, 2020.

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    June 1, 2020 Court of Appeal

    Judge of the Ninth Court of Cassation of General Jurisdiction Yevgeny Zheleznov cancels the appeal decision in the case of Osadchuk and others and sends the case for a new appeal to the Primorsky Regional Court.

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    June 29, 2020 Court of Appeal

    An appeal hearing is being held in the Primorsky Regional Court. Prosecutor V. A. Tymoshenko speaks on behalf of the prosecution. The Court refuses to accept the decision of the UN Working Group on the detention of Russian Jehovah's Witnesses and points out that it would be more appropriate to use it in the court of first instance when considering the case on the merits.

    The court shall issue a decision to return the case to the prosecutor.

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    December 16, 2020

    The Ninth Court of Cassation of General Jurisdiction in Vladivostok, chaired by Judge Natalia Khromina, satisfies the prosecutor's request to return the case to the prosecutor's office. The case of Osadchuk and others is referred to the court of first instance for consideration on the merits.

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    January 19, 2021

    The criminal case against Valentin Osadchuk and 6 elderly believers is transferred to the Leninsky District Court of Vladivostok and appointed to Judge Maxim Anufriev.

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    February 19, 2021 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    Due to the serious illness of Elena Zayshchuk, the case against her was suspended.

    The prosecutor reads the charge to the defendants.

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    April 13, 2021 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    Interrogation of witnesses is underway - detective Y. N. Gaifullin and embedded agent E. A. Petrova.

    The witnesses repeat the testimonies given during the preliminary investigation. They allege that the defendants secretly continued the activities of the local religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses in the city of Vladivostok. Petrova does not hide her negative attitude towards believers because of their religion.

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    May 18, 2021 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    Witnesses from the defense are being interrogated: Valentin Osadchuk's sister, her husband and the believer's employer. They characterize Valentin as a kind, sympathetic, responsible and law-abiding person who can be relied upon. His sister says that she used to have a very negative attitude towards Jehovah's Witnesses; After her brother's arrest, she decided to learn more about this religion and changed her mind.

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    June 29, 2021 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The court begins listening to audio recordings of worship services held in 2017-18.

    The judge asks the witness Petrova questions: who owns the voices on the audio recording; What is at stake in the fragments for which there is a discrepancy between the audio recording and the investigator's memorandum.

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    July 27, 2021 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The court begins to examine the material evidence seized during the search of believers. When reviewing religious publications, the prosecutor repeatedly points out that they contain references to Jehovah.

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    September 14, 2021 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    Lyubov Galaktionova is in the hospital where she is undergoing treatment for coronavirus. The hearing is adjourned.

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    December 16, 2021 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The defense submits a statement about the discrepancy between the list of seized items and the protocols of searches and inspections.

    During a number of sessions, the defendants are interrogated. They read out their written notes. Answering the questions of the prosecutor and the judge, believers use Article 47 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 51 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

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    January 14, 2022 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The prosecutor submits a motion for the examination of previously unexamined memorandums. During the announcement of one of them, the prosecutor skips fragments indicating the religious nature of the meeting of believers (discussion of biblical verses, religious teachings), explaining that "the prosecution is not interested in religious provisions."

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    May 4, 2022 Prosecutor requested punishment

    The prosecutor asks the court to sentence Valentin Osadchuk to 6.5 years in prison, and Lyubov Galaktionova, Nailya Kogai, Nina Purga, Nadezhda Anoykina and Raisa Usanova to 5 years suspended.

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    May 23, 2022 Prosecutor requested punishment

    The prosecution and one of the lawyers make remarks (in accordance with article 337 of the Code of Criminal Procedure).

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    May 27, 2022
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    June 1, 2022 First Instance Sentence

    The Leninsky District Court of Vladivostok sentences the believers: Valentin Osadchuk is sentenced to 6 years of suspended imprisonment and 1 year of restriction of liberty. Lyubov Galaktionova, Nailya Kogai, Nina Purge, Nadezhda Anoykina and Raisa Usanova receive 2 years suspended and 9 months of restriction of freedom.

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    September 26, 2022