Photo: Dennis Christensen and his wife Irina

Criminal trial

April 3, 2018. Review of the hearing in the case of a Danish believer in Oryol

Oryol Region

On April 3, 2018, at 10:30 a.m., about four dozen people gathered in the building of the Zheleznodorozhny District Court of Orel. These are Christensen's relatives and friends, journalists from the Oryol media, lawyers, prosecutors and an interpreter. The prosecution is represented by the prosecutor of the Investigation Department of the Prosecutor's Office of the Oryol Region, 1st class lawyer Ivan Fomin and junior counselor of justice Nadezhda Naumova. The defendant's lawyers are Anton Bogdanov, Viktor Zhenkov, Irina Krasnikova. The defendant was provided with an interpreter.

At 10:44 a.m., Judge Alexei Rudnev opened the court session, and a few minutes later a convoy brought the defendant Dennis Christensen into the courtroom in handcuffs.

The court clarified the rights and obligations of an interpreter. He is allowed to ask only questions that clarify the meaning, he is criminally liable for knowingly incorrect translation. After that, the judge announced the rules of the meeting, the rules of conduct for those present, as well as the rights of the defendant. Christensen thanked the judge for the detailed explanation.

The court considered Christensen's application for permission to have a telephone conversation with his wife. The judge said that the result of the examination would be sent to him at his location (in the pre-trial detention center).

Lawyer Bogdanov filed a motion to extend the period for familiarization with the case materials, since, due to circumstances beyond the control of the defendant, he managed to familiarize himself with only 8 of the 12 volumes of the criminal case. In addition, he was not properly acquainted with the material evidence available in the case, which was collected by the investigators: video recordings, photographs, objects seized as a result of searches. Prosecutor Fomin objected to giving Christensen time to familiarize himself with the case materials, he considers this to be a deliberate delay in the process. After negotiations with the interpreter Uskov about the technical possibilities for familiarizing the defendant with the case materials, the judge partially granted the defense's request. Christensen will be allowed to familiarize himself with the materials of the case, but not with material evidence. He will have 6 more meetings with the interpreter and after that, on April 23, 2018 at 10:30, the meeting will continue.

At the end of the court session, those present had a few moments to say words of support to the believer. Christensen thanked everyone warmly.

Case of Christensen in Oryol

Case History
Dennis Christensen is the first Jehovah’s Witness in modern Russia to be imprisoned only because of his faith. He was arrested in May 2017. The FSB accused the believer of organizing the activities of a banned organization on the basis of the testimony of a secret witness, theologian Oleg Kurdyumov from a local university, who kept covert audio and video recordings of conversations with Christensen about faith. There are no extremist statements or victims in the case. In 2019, the court sentenced Christensen to 6 years in prison. The believer was serving time in the Lgov colony. He repeatedly asked for the replacement of part of the unserved term with a fine. For the first time, the court granted the request, but the prosecutor’s office appealed this decision, and the prison administration threw the believer into a punishment cell on trumped-up charges. Christensen developed illnesses that prevented him from working in prison. On May 24, 2022, the believer was released after serving his sentence and was immediately deported to his homeland, Denmark.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Oryol Region
Suspected of:
according to the investigation, together with the others he conducted religious services, which is interpreted as “organising the activity of an extremist organisation” (with reference to the court’s decision on the liquidation of the local organisation of Jehovah’s Witnesses)
Court case number:
May 23, 2017
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
UFSB of Russia in the Oryol region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
[i18n] Рассмотрено судом первой инстанции:
Железнодорожный районный суд г. Орла
Алексей Николаевич Руднев
[i18n] Суд апелляционной инстанции:
Орловский областной суд
[i18n] Суд апелляционной инстанции:
Льговский райсуд Курской области
Case History