Photo: Invasion of believers in Tomsk (2018)

Criminal Investigation and Trial

In Kamchatka, another person was sent to a pre-trial detention center for his faith

Kamchatka Territory

On August 19, 2018, in Yelizovo (Kamchatka Territory), searches were conducted in at least 3 homes of citizens who are suspected of practicing the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses. 41-year-old Konstantin Bazhenov, his wife Snezhana Bazhenova, and 71-year-old Vera Zolotova were sent to a temporary detention facility (IVS). On August 21, 2018, Ruslan Maslov, judge of the Yelizovsky District Court of the Kamchatka Territory, chose a measure of restraint for Konstantin Bazhenov in the form of 2-month detention until October 18, 2018; Snezhana Bazhenova and Vera Zolotova were released after being detained for 2 days.

A total of 11 citizens were detained in Yelizovo, including Elizaveta, the Bazhenovs' minor daughter. After many hours of interrogation, most were released. It became known that a criminal case was initiated under Article 282.2(1) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (organization of an extremist organization).

Earlier, on July 30, 2018, in the city of Vilyuchinsk (Kamchatka Territory), dozens of armed FSB officers conducted several searches in the homes of believers. Spouses Mikhail Popov and Elena Popova were detained. The court of first instance sent 56-year-old Mikhail Popov to a pre-trial detention center, and his wife, after 4 days in a temporary detention facility, under house arrest. Later, the Kamchatka Regional Court released the spouses.

Russian law enforcement officers mistakenly mistake the joint religion of citizens for participation in the activities of an extremist organization. Believers insist on their complete innocence. Currently, criminal prosecution for faith, accompanied by rough searches and arrests of law-abiding citizens, takes place in 7 of the 9 regions of the Far Eastern Federal District (excluding the Sakhalin Region and the Chukotka Autonomous Region), namely: in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), in the Amur, Magadan and Jewish Autonomous Regions, Primorsky (3), Khabarovsk and Kamchatka (2) territories.

The town of Yelizovo is located 30 km from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Konstantin Aleksandrovich Bazhenov, detained in Yelizovo, is the namesake of 43-year-old Konstantin Viktorovich Bazhenov, who was sent to the Saratov pre-trial detention center on similar grounds.

Case of the Bazhenovs and Others in Yelizovo

Case history
In 2018, in Yelizovo, Snezhana and Konstantin Bazhenov, both teachers, as well as widowed pensioner Vera Zolotova, were detained, their houses were searched, and a few days later they had to sign a recognizance agreement. The Investigative Committee equated the holding of joint meetings for worship to illegal activity. In September 2020, the court gave each of them a 2-year suspended sentence. The court of appeal upheld this decision, but the court of cassation returned the case for retrial to the territory court. In January 2022, it acquitted the believers, but the prosecutor’s office achieved that the verdict was overturned in the RF Supreme Court, and the case was returned to the appeal stage, and later the courts of cassation supported the verdict of a 2-year suspended sentence.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Kamchatka Territory
Locality:
Yelizovo
Suspected of:
according to the investigation, together with others he conducted religious services, which is interpreted as “organising the activity of an extremist organisation” (with reference to the decision of the Russian Supreme Court on the liquidation of all 396 registered organisations of Jehovah’s Witnesses).
Court case number:
11802300004000052
Initiated:
August 17, 2018
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigating:
Investigative Department of the city of Yelizovo of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Kamchatka Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-78/2020
Court:
Елизовский районный суд Камчатского края
Judge:
Юлия Пискун
Background