Photo: Roman Markin, Viktor Trofimov

Criminal Investigation and Trial

In Murmansk, after 176 days in pre-trial detention, two believers were placed under house arrest

Murmansk Region

On October 10, 2018, the Polyarny District Court of the Murmansk Region decided to soften the preventive measure for 61-year-old Viktor Trofimov and 44-year-old Roman Markin and transferred them to house arrest. They were arrested on April 18, 2018 by officers of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Murmansk Region.

Both face up to 10 years in prison under the article "organization of the activities of an extremist community" (part 1 of article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). After the Russian Supreme Court liquidated and declared "extremist" all 396 organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses, law enforcement agencies across the country mistakenly interpret peaceful meetings of believers as "extremist activity." A total of at least 43 people were sent to prison, most of them, 26 people, are still in pre-trial detention centers or temporary detention facilities, the rest of the measure of restraint has been mitigated.

At the same time, in the ECHR, the Russian Government argues that the decision of the Supreme Court and the appellate ruling by which it was upheld "do not assess the doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses, do not contain a restriction or prohibition to practice the above teaching individually" (paragraph 91 of the comments of the Russian Federation on complaint No. 10188/17 "Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia and Kalin v. Russian Federation"). Dozens of human rights activists, as well as the Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation , express concern about the growing religious repression.

Case of Markin and Trofimov in Polyarny

Case history
In April 2017, the families of Jehovah’s Witnesses came to the attention of the FSB officers in the Murmansk region. A year later, a series of searches took place in Polyarny, after which 13 citizens, including the minor Violetta Markina, were taken for interrogations, which lasted until 6 a.m. the next day. Investigator A. V. Gulin considered prayers and reading the Bible dangerous acts for the state. Roman Markin and Viktor Trofimov were sent to a pre-trial detention center for six months on suspicion of organizing the activities of an extremist organization. They spent another 4 months under house arrest. After 20 court hearings, the prosecutor requested 6 years in prison for Roman Markin and 6 years and 5 months for Viktor Trofimov. On January 24, 2020, Viktoriya Loginova, a judge of the Polyarny District Court, sentenced the believers to fines: Viktor Trofimov in the amount of 350,000 rubles, and Roman Markin - 300,000 rubles. The Court of Appeal and the Court of Cassation upheld the verdict.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Murmansk Region
Suspected of:
according to the investigation he together with others 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:
April 12, 2018
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Murmansk Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number: