Photo: Alexandru Ursu (Dzhankoy)

Actions of Law Enforcement Officers

Crimea: A Believer, a Victim of Political Repression, Was Injured in a Force Operation


78-year-old Alexander Petrovich Ursu, who was repressed for his faith and later recognized as an innocent victim, was pressed against the wall and fell to his knees, handcuffed. This happened on the evening of November 15, 2018 in the city of Dzhankoy (Crimea), where the FSB, with the support of riot police, carried out gross incursions into the homes of citizens who are suspected of professing the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses. A criminal case under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation was initiated against a 46-year-old local resident Sergey Filatov. The arrests are not yet known, the handcuffs of Alexandr Ursu have been removed.

The Russian authorities in 2018 are repeating the tragic mistake made during the Stalinist period. Since the early 1930s, Alexandr Ursu's family has considered itself to be one of Jehovah's Witnesses. In the 1940s, his father, uncle and grandfather were sent to labor camps because of their religion. In 1947, with a serious injury, but alive, only his father returned. "When I was nine years old, our family and hundreds of other Witnesses from Moldavia were exiled to Siberia," Alexander Ursu said in his autobiography, "On July 6, 1949, we were loaded into cattle cars, and we traveled non-stop for 12 days. Having covered more than six thousand kilometers, we arrived at the Lebyazhye station. The local authorities were already waiting for us there. We were divided into small groups and immediately settled in different places. For our group, a small empty school became home. We were exhausted and depressed." Later, Alexandru Ursu was repeatedly subjected to various forms of pressure from the state security agencies, including searches in his house. On May 21, 1991, Alexandr Ursu was rehabilitated in accordance with the Decree "On additional measures to restore justice for the victims of repressions that took place in the period of the 30-40s and early 50s". Certificate of rehabilitation No. 23 was issued to him on 17 June 1991.

Punitive authorities in modern Russia consider any worship of Jehovah as participation in the activities of an "extremist organization" (with reference to the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation to liquidate all 396 registered organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses), while the Russian government officially declares that the decision of the Supreme Court "does not contain a restriction or prohibition to practice the above teachings individually." "There is a contradiction between the declared position of the Government of the Russian Federation and law enforcement practice. This cannot but cause concern, since criminal prosecutions and arrests have become systemic," the Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights said in a statement .

Case of Filatov in Dzhankoy

Case History
Sergey Filatov, a father of four, lived a quiet life in Dzhankoy, where he moved from the Kherson region to care for his sick daughter. One autumn evening in 2018, during a large-scale raid by law enforcement officers, his house was attacked by a detachment of armed special forces. Law enforcement officers considered that an exemplary family man “undermines the foundations of the constitutional order and security of the state.” It is noteworthy that there were no victims in the criminal case, the prosecution witness was a security officer, and the rector of an Orthodox church and a local resident, Alexei Voznyak, with a “higher education in religious studies”, were involved as specialists. On March 5, 2020, the judge of the Dzhankoy District Court, Maria Ermakova, sentenced the believer to 6 years in prison. He is serving his sentence in a penal colony. Sergey remains in good spirits and is respected among the prisoners.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Suspected of:
"At an unspecified time, no later than October 13, 2017, carried out organizational activities aimed at continuing the unlawful activities of this organization [Jehovah’s Witnesses LRO 'Sivash'], expressed in holding meetings and religious speeches, and also promoting religious ideas of this organization by means of registered dwelling place" (from the order on institution of criminal proceedings)
Court case number:
November 10, 2018
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigative Department of the Crimea Region and of the Sevastopol
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
Верховный суд Республики Крым
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Мария Ермакова
Case History