The case of Plotnikov and Others in Yoshkar-Ola

Case History

In April 2022, the FSB initiated a criminal case against Jehovah’s Witnesses from Yoshkar-Ola. Searches were carried out at nine addresses; law enforcement officers used force against one of the believers, Yevgeny Plotnikov. He was arrested and subsequently placed in a detention center. In August 2022, Yevgeny was placed under house arrest, and in October he was placed under a ban on certain activities. From December of the same year, the FSB investigator began making other residents of the city defendants – Sergey Kulikov and his son Aleksey, Eduard Kapitonov and his son Ilya, Igor Alekseyev, Vladimir Usenko and Denis Petrov. The investigator regarded practicing their faith as extremist actions. The believers were made to sign a recognizance agreement.

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    April 15, 2022

    At about 7:30 a.m., security forces rushed in with searches to the residents of Yoshkar-Ola.

    One of the victims is Yevgeny Plotnikov. Law enforcement officers open the lock and break into the believer's apartment. He is thrown to the floor, grabbed by the hair and hit his head on the floor. After that, they shackle his hands behind his back and pull them up. Because of these actions, the believer experiences great pain.

    Law enforcement officers take Plotnikov outside to conduct a search in his absence, but later return him to the apartment.

    During the search, Yevgeny's notebooks with notes, the Bible in the Synodal translation, electronic devices, albums with drawings and information carriers were seized.

    The believer is placed in a temporary detention facility. FSB officers bypass Yevgeny's neighbors, calling him a "fraudster." Despite this, one of the residents of the house writes a positive characteristic on Plotnikov.

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    April 17, 2022

    The judge of the Yoshkar-Ola city court, Alexander Nikolaev, chooses a measure of restraint for the believer in the form of detention for 2 months.

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    April 18, 2022

    Investigator P. S. Betkanov interrogates witnesses in the Plotnikov case. They have the right not to incriminate themselves.

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    April 19, 2022 Search
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    April 21, 2022

    Under the agreement, the lawyer submits an appeal to the Supreme Court of Mari El against the measure of restraint for Yevgeny Plotnikov.

    The defender draws attention to the fact that the court did not take into account that the confession of faith of Jehovah's Witnesses and the ways of expressing it were not prohibited by the decision of the Supreme Court of April 20, 2017. Consequently, law enforcement agencies mistakenly interpret the exercise of the right to religion as a continuation of the activities of a liquidated legal entity.

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    April 22, 2022

    The lawyer visits Yevgeniy Plotnikov in SIZO-1 in Yoshkar-Ola. The condition of the believer is satisfactory, he does not lose heart.

    Yevgeniy is quarantined in solitary confinement, he is allowed to go for walks inside the institution. During the first week in the pre-trial detention center, Plotnikov received 15 letters, which surprised the staff. One of the guards even asked: "Are all these letters for you?" The Bible has not yet been provided to Eugene.

    The believer says that at first the cellmates behaved aggressively. But after he explained that he was one of Jehovah's Witnesses and was arrested for his faith under Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, they began to treat him with understanding.

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    April 23, 2022

    Plotnikov is charged under Part 1 and Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation

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    August 12, 2022 House arrest

    Yevgeniy Plotnikov is transferred from the pre-trial detention center to house arrest. He spent 117 days in the isolation ward.

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    October 7, 2022 Prohibition of certain actions

    The court changes Yevgeny Plotnikov's measure of restraint to a ban on certain actions.

    During the court session, investigator Betkanov states that the investigation of the case is "particularly difficult", since it is necessary to conduct a forensic comprehensive psychological, linguistic and religious examination of video materials with a total duration of more than 100 hours.

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    December 1, 2022

    The investigator of the FSB Directorate for the Republic of Mari El, Senior Lieutenant of Justice Betkanov, is bringing Vladimir Usenko as a defendant under the article on organizing the activities of a banned organization.

    According to the investigation, Usenko, together with others, "in compliance with conspiracy measures, committed actions to continue illegal activities ... the religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses "Yoshkar-Ola" by convening meetings of followers of the dogma."

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    April 25, 2023

    Igor Alekseev is charged under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code.

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    May 3, 2023

    Sergey Kulikov is also charged under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation in this criminal case.

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    May 11, 2023

    Ilya Kapitonov is charged under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code.

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    May 17, 2023

    Denis Petrov is involved as another defendant in this criminal case. He is also charged with Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.