Case of Gadrshina in Vyselki

Case History

Yelena Gadrshina is one of the residents of the village of Vyselki, whose house was invaded by the security forces during mass searches against Jehovah’s Witnesses in February 2022. In June 2023, the Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against her on charges of participating in the activities of an extremist organization. Six months later, the case went to court. The accusation is based on the testimony of a secret witness under the pseudonym “Pastyr” (the Russian for shepherd) who secretly recorded the services of Jehovah’s Witnesses on video. His testimony appears in six other similar cases.

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    February 13, 2022 Search

    Searches are being conducted at at least 31 addresses in the village of Vyselki and neighboring settlements. Electronic devices, bank cards and personal records are seized from Elena Gadrshina.

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    June 15, 2023 Case initiated Art. 282.2 (2) Secret witness

    The Investigative Committee is initiating a criminal case against Elena Gadrshina under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. It is based on the testimony of a secret witness under the pseudonym "Shepherd" who has attended Jehovah's Witnesses services in the past. Later, the man again began to communicate with believers and film online worship services in order to transmit this information to the Center for Countering Extremism.

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    July 11, 2023 Rosfinmonitoring

    Rosfinmonitoring blocks the accounts of Gadrshina and several other believers from Vyselki, and two days later seizes her funds.

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    August 10, 2023 Interrogation Recognizance agreement

    The investigator summons the believer for interrogation and takes from her a written undertaking not to leave the place.

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    August 15, 2023 Art. 282.2 (2)

    Elena Gadrshina is charged with committing a crime under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Among other things, she is charged with "reading aloud to other participants the religious books of Jehovah's Witnesses, emphasizing that these books contain true knowledge about God."

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    December 29, 2023 Case went to court

    The case goes to the Vyselkovsky District Court. It will be considered by judge Ruslan Teplukhin. He is also hearing a case brought on similar charges against other local believers, Vasilina Penskaya and Viktor Spirichev.

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    January 30, 2024

    The court grants the defense's request for the admission of Elena Gadrshina's daughter as a second defender.

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    February 28, 2024 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    31 people come to support the believer, all are allowed into the meeting room.

    The public defender submits a new motion to return the case to the prosecutor in order to remove obstacles in the further consideration of the case. The prosecutor is requesting time to consider the motion.

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    May 8, 2024 Hearing in a court of the first instance Elderly

    The court rejects the previously filed motion of the defense to return the case to the prosecutor.

    In another petition, the defence alleges that the investigator violated the statutory deadlines for the preliminary investigation. According to the investigator, it was allegedly not possible to involve Gadrshina in the investigation of the criminal case. However, the believer declares that she was not absent anywhere, since she was under recognizance not to leave. The prosecution asks for time to prepare a response.