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Actions of Law Enforcement Officers

Primorye: Criminal Case and Arrests in Spassk-Dalniy

Primorye Territory

On November 25, 2018, in the city of Spassk-Dalny (Primorye Territory), five people were detained and sent to an isolation ward in the wake of searches in the homes of citizens suspected of practicing the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses. Two days later, 28-year-old Dmitry Malevan, 59-year-old Alexei Trofimov, 59-year-old Olga Panyuta and 66-year-old Olga Opaleva were placed under house arrest. One man was released without a preventive measure.

It is noteworthy that on November 13, 2 weeks before this happened in reality, the media, citing the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Primorsky Territory, disseminated information about the arrest of 5 believers. It was also reported that a criminal case was initiated under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (organization of activities of an extremist organization).

Earlier, in Spassk-Dalny, an FSB operation took place to disrupt a friendly meeting. On the evening of August 12, 2018, at least 17 FSB officers invaded rented premises on Krasnoznamennaya Street in Spassk-Dalny (Primorsky Territory), where a friendly meeting was taking place with the participation of 28 people. Phones and tablets were seized from those present. Until late at night, citizens were asked questions under the protocol, for example: was the name "Jehovah" pronounced at the meeting? Was the Bible read in the New World Translation? The basis for these actions was the decision to conduct a number of operational-search activities "Inspection of premises, buildings, structures, terrain and vehicles", which was issued on August 10, 2018 by the acting head of the Service in the village of Kamen-Rybolov of the FSB of Russia in the Primorsky Territory. As a result, the rented premises were searched, as well as the houses and cars of several citizens.

Thus, a total of at least four criminal cases have been initiated in the Primorye Territory against citizens who are suspected of professing the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses. The case of Valentin Osadchuk is being investigated by the Investigative Department of the FSB of Russia in Vladivostok. The case of Dmitry Barmakin, who came to take care of his wife's sick mother, but instead ended up in a pre-trial detention center, is being investigated by the body of the Investigative Committee of Russia in the Pervorechensky district of Vladivostok. The case in the village of Razdolnoye (Primorsky Territory), during which a brutal military operation against civilians was carried out, is being investigated by the Investigative Department for the Nadezhdinsky District of the Investigative Committee of Russia. Law enforcement agencies across the country mistakenly interpret peaceful meetings of believers as "extremist activity." Dozens of human rights defenders, as well as the Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation , expressed concern about the growing religious repression.

Case of Malevaniy and Others in Spassk-Dalny

Case history
In the fall of 2018, searches were carried out in Spassk-Dalny at the homes of Dmitry Malevany, Alexei Trofimov, Olga Panyuta, Olga Opaleva and their fellow believers. The reason for the persecution of civilians was their faith in Jehovah God. The believers were accused of organizing the activities of an extremist organization and involving others in it. The case is based on the testimony of secret witnesses “Sidorova” and “Ivanova”, who monitored the believers on instructions from the FSB. On the eve of the search, Olga Opaleva suffered a heart attack, and later, on the way to court, a stroke. The four believers spent a year under house arrest, and since November 2019 they have been under a recognizance agreement. In December 2019, the case went to court. In February 2023, the believers were sentenced: Dmitry Malevanoy was given 7 years in a penal colony, Alexey Trofimov  6.5 years in prison, Olga Panyuta - 4.5 years in prison, and Olga Opaleva - 5 years suspended. The appeal reduced each of these terms by two months, the cassation supported this decision.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Primorye Territory
Locality:
Spassk-Dalny
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:
11802050020000065
Initiated:
November 12, 2018
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigating:
Investigative Department of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of Russia for the Primorskiy Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1), 282.2 (1.1)
Court case number:
1-4/2023 (1-4/2022; 1-7/2021; 1-70/2020; 1-570/2019)
Court of First Instance:
Спасский районный суд Приморского края
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Павел Бобрович
Background