Photo: Sergey Rayman

Criminal Investigation and Trial

In Kostroma, a believer was released from a pre-trial detention center under house arrest

Kostroma Region

On September 21, 2018, 21-year-old Sergey Rayman was released from pre-trial detention center No. 1 of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia in the Kostroma region after 59 days of detention. The Sverdlovsk District Court of Kostroma, after a 5-hour hearing, changed his measure of restraint to house arrest, rejecting the investigator's request to extend his detention. It is noteworthy that the representative of the prosecutor's office supported the accused's petition for the application of house arrest.

It became known that the conditions of detention in Sergey's pre-trial detention center were very difficult at first: a small solitary confinement cell, letters were not missed. It was not allowed to have a Bible on the pretext that it contained maps of ancient Palestine, which, theoretically, could be used to prepare for escape. Later, however, the situation changed: he was allowed to have a Bible (cards removed) and receive letters, which became support for the young man.

Sergey's wife, Valeria Rayman, was detained along with her husband on July 25, 2018 after a brutal assault on their home. She spent 2 days in a temporary detention center, after which the court imposed a ban on her leaving the house at night, as well as a ban on the Internet, telephone, mail and communication with "persons professing the teachings of Jehovah." On September 21, 2018, the court extended her preventive measure.

The criminal case against the Rayman spouses was initiated under Part 1 and Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (organization and participation in the activities of an extremist community) on the grounds that, according to the investigation, citizens gathered in their house twice to discuss the doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses. On September 20, 2018, throughout Kostroma, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, the Center for Counteracting Extremism and the National Guard conducted mass searches in 11 houses of citizens who, according to the investigation, profess the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses. 16 people were actually detained for questioning, some were detained at 6 a.m. and released only around 5 p.m.

Case of the Raymans in Kostroma

Case history
In July 2018, the life of young spouses Sergey and Valeria Rayman was divided into “before” and “after”. They were accused of extremism under two articles of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation for participating in worship services. The Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee for the Kostroma Region investigated the case for 1.5 years. During this time, the couple survived imprisonment in solitary confinement, a ban on correspondence and reading the Bible, house arrest, and a restriction on communication even with each other. In August 2019, the court began considering their case, but 1.5 months later returned it to the prosecutor for the unfounded accusation. After re-examining the case, the court sentenced Sergey and Valeriya to 8 and 7 years of probation, respectively. In February 2021, the regional court reduced the terms to 3 and 2 years, but the cassation returned the case to the appeal stage. Based on the results of the reconsideration in the regional court, Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation was excluded from the verdict and the spouses were given 7 and 6.5 years suspended with a probationary period of 2 years. In August 2022, the cassation court finally approved this decision.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Kostroma Region
Suspected of:
according to the investigation they participated in religious services, which is interpreted as organising and participating in the activities 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:
July 24, 2018
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigative Department for the Tsentralniy District of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Kostroma Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1), 282.2 (2)
Court case number:
Свердловский районный суд г. Костромы
Дмитрий Балаев
[i18n] Суд апелляционной инстанции:
Костромской областной суд