The last word of Galina Alekseevna Kobeleva

Dear court!

Despite the formidable wording of the charges, in my final statement I want to remind you of the specific actions for which the public prosecutor asks me to be found guilty and convicted. They ask me to be recognized as an extremist only because I talked about the Bible with citizen Mrachko V.Y. and also for the fact that I profess the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses. If we assume that I would profess a different religion, for example, Orthodoxy, then my conversations about the Bible with citizen Mrachko V.Y. the prosecution would consider legitimate. And the whole accusation was built on this erroneous judgment. Throughout the trial, I pondered the question: How do I, as one of Jehovah's Witnesses, differ from representatives of other religions? And why am I forbidden to do what others are allowed to do?

Being present at court hearings, I repeatedly heard the question: "What is the difference between the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses and other religions?" In fact, there are many differences. But today I will talk about two of them, especially since they explain why I came to Mrachko V.Y. and talked with him, referring to the Bible.

The first difference. The Bible is a reference point in the worship of God for Jehovah's Witnesses. In John chapter 17, verse 17, Jesus Christ said to God, "Your word is truth." The truth is in God's Word, the Bible. Therefore, in the worship of God and in life, it is necessary to adhere to what is written in the Bible. Let me give you an example. One of the commandments recorded in Exodus 20 chapter 4 and verse 5 reads: "Thou shalt not make unto thee an idol, nor any image of that which is in heaven above, nor that which is on the earth below, nor that which is in the water below the earth. Thou shalt not worship them or serve them, for I am the Lord thy God, a jealous God..." Jehovah's Witnesses follow this instruction and do not worship any images, especially since Psalm 113:11-16 says: "Our God is in heaven, doing whatever he wants. And their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but they do not speak; they have eyes, but they do not see; They have ears, but they do not hear; they have nostrils, but do not smell; They have hands, but they do not touch; they have legs, but they do not walk; and they do not utter voices with their larynx. Let those who do them be like them, and all who hope in them." It turns out that the worship of images is useless, since images are not seen, not heard and, of course, cannot help. And in Isaiah 44 chapters 9 to 20, verses about images also say that they are useless and that the person who worships them is deceiving himself: "He is chasing dust, a deceived heart has led him astray, and he cannot free his soul and say, 'Is there not a deception in my right hand?'" Taking into account all these scriptures from the Bible, it is impossible not to notice God's point of view on the question of whether or not images should be used in the worship of God. But some religions ignore this truth, replacing it with human commandments and traditions. If we worship God as the Bible teaches, and try to follow what is written in it, it brings great joy to God, and God's approval to us.

The Bible is the Constitution of God's kingdom and the standard of truth authored by God (2 Timothy 3:16,17). And therefore, no parliament in the world can change it even by a majority vote. And since it is written for all people on earth, this is why Jehovah's Witnesses try to worship God and live as God wants it and as it is written in his Word, the Bible.

The second difference. Jehovah's Witnesses, like first-century Christians, tell others what Jesus taught. According to the Gospel of Matthew 28 chapter 19, 20 verses, Jesus gave his disciples an important task: "Go and make disciples of all nations... Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you..." The first Christians themselves went to the people and preached in the square, in the market and in private homes. Today, Jehovah's Witnesses also preach Bible truth wherever there are people and even here in court. Why do they do this? They love their neighbors, that is, all people, and therefore spare no time and effort to bring the Bible's message of hope and comfort. After all, everyone knows that a firm, well-founded hope gives strength to cope with difficulties and look to the future with joy. And this is so necessary for people now! And if Jesus said to preach, then I want to be obedient and act like the first Christians. That is why I came to Mrachko V. Y. and offered to learn about God from the Bible. First-century Christians were not extremists, and I, as one of Jehovah's Witnesses, did not do anything extremist. After all, being one of Jehovah's Witnesses is not a crime!

Jehovah's Witnesses have lived in Russia for more than 100 years. And for most of this time, they practice their faith without those LRO (local religious organizations) - legal entities that appeared in the late 1990s and lasted less than 20 years. In 2017, these legal entities were liquidated. And what is the result? The rights of ordinary citizens to freedom of religion, which are enshrined in Article 28 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation and which they used before the appearance of LRO legal entities, began to be violated. And I would very much like the rights referred to in the Constitution of the Russian Federation to apply to all citizens of the Russian Federation and not act selectively.

Why are Jehovah's Witnesses persecuted? The answer can be found in the Bible. The apostle Paul wrote in a letter to Timothy: "And all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus (i.e., faithfully serve God) will be persecuted" (2 Timothy 3:12). Jehovah's Witnesses lead a highly moral way of life: they do not smoke, do not swear, do not abuse alcohol, they have strong families, without adultery, respect any authority, and maintain Christian neutrality in matters of politics. Since this way of life is very disliked by God's enemy, the Devil, who, according to the Bible, rules the whole world, so Jehovah's Witnesses suffer persecution.

Everything that is happening to me now in this court session has actually already happened in the history of our state. Thus, in April 1951, a campaign against Jehovah's Witnesses was carefully planned in the USSR, which was called "Operation North". Jehovah's Witnesses at that time, as well as I am now, were accused of undermining the state system. About 10,000 Jehovah's Witnesses were forcibly exiled to Siberia without the right to return. Their houses and possessions were confiscated, and some were even deprived of their lives for believing in God, which did not fit into the framework of Soviet ideology. But none of them hated people in general, or even their persecutors. They remained Christians and law-abiding citizens. Jehovah's Witnesses worked honestly on collective farms and industrial enterprises, and did not pose any threat to Soviet power. Also today, I comply with the laws of our country, do not undermine security and do not threaten the integrity of our state, and even more so - the constitutional order. How can I even do this, since everything I am accused of contradicts what my God Jehovah teaches me? Just as Jehovah's Witnesses were persecuted in the Soviet Union, unfortunately, this is still happening. But pay attention, dear court, in the early 1990s, Russia recognized the fallacy and illegality of the persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses. The affected Jehovah's Witnesses were recognized as victims of political repression and fully rehabilitated.

Your honor! One name was often heard here - Jehovah. Jehovah is the personal name of the Most High God, and in the Bible, in most translations, it occurs in at least one place where it says: "The Lord is a man of battle, Jehovah is his name" (Exodus 15 chapter 3 verse). I am in the courtroom today practically for the fact that I am associated with this name, I am one of Jehovah's Witnesses. But I declare with all responsibility that it did not even occur to me what I am accused of as a criminal. As one of Jehovah's Witnesses, I always try to live and act in a way that does not defame the holy name of God.

My faith in God means a lot to me. Until 1994, I knew nothing about Jehovah's Witnesses. But I began to think about the meaning of life from a young age, as I saw how hard life is and that the end result of all this little joyful life is the grave. Of course, I didn't like it and always wanted there to be another, more positive way out. So when Jehovah's Witnesses offered me a study of the Bible, I agreed, hoping to find a logical and satisfying answer to this question. Why in the Bible? I had heard a lot about this book as wise and authoritative, and later, when studying it, I became convinced of this, having received evidence that it contained the wisdom of God, and not of men. At that time, I was already disappointed in the contradictory human wisdom regarding the meaning of life, seeing how much grief and injustice in my life, and throughout the world. And I intuitively, unconsciously, sought wisdom and guidance for my life from above. And Jehovah God heard me and sent his servants, Jehovah's Witnesses, to help me understand his letter, the Bible. It turned out that this guide to a happy life was given by God a long time ago, and I did not know. How glad I was to receive an answer not only to the question: what is the meaning of life, but also to many others. Studying the Bible with Jehovah's Witnesses, I began to understand what the name Jehovah means and why only the Most High God can bear this name, why people suffer and die, what happens to the dead, what the future holds for people, why the Bible and God can be trusted, and much more. With this accurate Bible knowledge, my faith in Jehovah God and his promises to make the whole earth a paradise was strengthened. This belief of mine was based not on the hypotheses and theories of imperfect people who are prone to error, but on the truth of God's Word, the Bible, authored by God himself. This knowledge from the Bible gave me confidence and joy in life, gave me a firm, reasonable hope for a happy future without disease, old age and death. I have also made many true, loving friends who will never intentionally let me down or betray me. I also experienced the words recorded in James 4:8: "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you..." I became convinced that it is possible to have the same intimate relationship with God as with a good friend. I also saw evidence that Jehovah is the living God, and that he is always there for those who reach out to him.

On the basis of my Bible knowledge of God, his attributes, and his purpose for the earth and mankind, and the evidence that the Bible is a book from God and can be trusted, I have made a deliberate decision to dedicate my life not to any organization, person, or cause, but to the one who gave me this life, Jehovah God, promising him to serve and live in accordance with his will and standards. Which is what he expects from everyone. And for this I needed to change and, as I learned from the Bible, you need to start with thinking. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians 4:22-24 says, "Put aside the old way of life of the old man, decaying in seductive lusts, And be renewed in the spirit of your mind And put on the new man, created according to God, in the righteousness and holiness of the truth." The fact that all our actions are preceded by thought was confirmed by Jesus Christ, who said: "But that which proceedeth from the mouth proceedeth from the heart; This defiles man, For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery ... theft, perjury, blasphemy: it defiles a man..." (Matthew 15:18–20)

Your honor! I realized for myself that in order to please God and live in harmony with his standards and, accordingly, experience his blessings, I need to change my thinking. But how? In Philippians 4:8, the apostle Paul said, "Finally, my brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honest, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is kind, whatever is glorious, whatever is only virtue and praise, think of it." It turns out that I had to fill my mind not only with everyday thoughts (home, work, garden, etc.), but also with useful thoughts from the Bible for spiritual development. Therefore, I decided for myself to read and meditate on the Bible daily, regularly attend services where we study the Bible, and share this Bible knowledge with others. Thanks to this, I learn to love people. To love even those who are hostile to me. This is not easy, but it is possible for everyone, because Jesus Christ said, "Love your enemies" (Matthew 5:44). The Bible teaches me to endure evil and not to speak offensively of anyone. And the more I read about it and think about it, the stronger the motivation to do good to all people.

Jehovah's Witnesses do good to people when they preach the good (or joyful) news from the Bible. It can be said that preaching is the calling card of Jehovah's Witnesses, as they fulfill the task of Jesus Christ throughout the world: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, as a witness to all nations; and then the end shall come" (Matthew 24:14). Why can it be said that Jesus Christ gave this assignment not only to Christians in the first century, when he lived, but also to us? Because Jesus said, "And then the end will come." So, at the end of this system of things, someone will preach the good news. According to biblical prophecies that are being fulfilled before our eyes, we live in these days. But how is it to be preached?

Some of Jesus' instructions are recorded in Matthew 10:12–14: "As you enter the house, greet those who are in it. If the house is worthy, let the world you wish for it come to it, and if it is unworthy, let your peace return to you. If somewhere you will not be accepted and will not be listened to, then, leaving that house or city, shake the dust off your feet. A clear and explicit instruction to talk to people from house to house about the good news, which is what I tried to do. But not for the purpose of involvement, as I am accused, but to bring this message to those who are interested. And Jehovah God "attracts" people. This is also what Jesus said in John 6:44: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him..." It is absolutely certain that it was not Jesus, not Jehovah, who did not authorize me to "attract" or "involve" someone. My goal is to witness to people and help those who want to learn about Jehovah God, remembering that everyone makes their own choices consciously and independently.

Talking to people on biblical topics, reading and distributing religious literature, attending worship services, singing songs, praying - this is all a way of expressing my faith in God and worshiping him, and not an action prohibited by the LRO of Lesozavodsk. And I can't imagine how this peaceful worship of God can shake the constitutional order of the Russian Federation and be dangerous to others and to society as a whole. By reading the Bible and attending worship services, on the contrary, I learn to respect the authorities and their laws.

I am also accused of being dangerous to the state and society, as I claimed that my religion was true. I would very much like to see a believer of any denomination who would declare that his religion is not true. Absurd! Everyone considers what they believe to be true.

All over the world, Jehovah's Witnesses are known as peace-loving people who have nothing to do with extremism. We follow the biblical counsel to respect "all kinds of people," regardless of their religious beliefs (1 Peter 2:17). Jehovah's Witnesses have nothing to do with violence, do not take up arms, and follow the command recorded in Isaiah 2:4: "... And they will hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into sickles: the people will not raise a sword against the people, and they will no longer learn to fight. For Jehovah's Witnesses, an intimate relationship with God and a desire not to grieve him are so important that they are ready to end up in prison rather than take up arms. This command of God to "not learn to fight" is so important to Jehovah's Witnesses that parents do not buy their children war toys (tanks, pistols, etc.) so that children do not learn to fight from childhood.

I'm far from a perfect person. I have mistakes and mistakes in life, like all people, because we are all imperfect. But all of them are incommensurable with what I am accused of today. Perhaps not everyone likes what I believe in and how I express my views and beliefs. And someone fundamentally disagrees with me. But if you think that someone does something differently than many people, not in the way that is customary for others, but at the same time without breaking the laws, without harming anyone, will he be judged for this as a criminal and an extremist? Hardly. And today they judge and want to brand me with this word only because I believe in Jehovah God, pray to him and am a believing Jehovah's Witness. It is very sad if this happens.

In conclusion, I would like to thank you, Your Honor, the distinguished State Prosecutor and the Registrar for your hard work. Nowadays, being impartial and honest is really not easy. Special thanks to my defender Galina Vladimirovna for her caring attitude to her work.

Your honor! My conscience is clear. I did not commit any crime either before people, or before the state, or before God. Therefore, hoping for your impartiality, I ask you to acquit me.

Yours sincerely,

Defendant Kobeleva G. A.