Photo: search of believers (2016)

Actions of Law Enforcement Officers

Arrests, Searches and a Criminal Case in the Stavropol Territory

Stavropol Territory

On December 9, 2018, at least 8 searches were carried out in Neftekumsk (Stavropol Territory) in apartments, private houses and non-residential premises of citizens suspected of practicing the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses. Konstantin Samsonov (41), Aleksandr Akopov (26) and Shamil Sultanov (41) were sent to jail. Another man is wanted. The criminal case under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation was initiated by the Investigative Directorate of the Federal Security Service of Russia for the Stavropol Territory on December 7, 2017.

Many law enforcement officers, including those from the regional center, were involved in the searches. In most places, masked soldiers armed with assault rifles drove up in an off-road military truck (Ural).

Citizens were subjected to degrading treatment. During one search, a woman was forced to fully undress in the presence of witnesses (women). In addition, a minor (17 years old) was subjected to a body search with exposure to his underwear. A woman with group II disability was not allowed to use the toilet for a long time. A young girl, in front of whom the search took place, cried with fear. Another woman required emergency medical attention after the search. An ambulance team was also called to Konstantin Samsonov directly for the court hearing, during which he was sent to a pre-trial detention center.

During the searches, books, communication equipment, computers, notebooks, electronic storage devices, personal money, bank cards, vehicle documents, photographs, etc., were seized.

It is noteworthy how the FSB motivated the need to detain citizens: "After the decision of the Supreme Court of Russia to ban activities ... Samsonov K.V. did not renounce his religious views" (the identical wording was also used in the investigator's petition to the court against Shamil Sultanov). Earlier, 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.

Earlier, on August 26, 2017, 18 citizens who were vacationing with children on the shore of the lake in the vicinity of Neftekumsk, were blocked by a detachment of armed police officers and taken to the police station under the threat of force. In November, 9 searches in the homes of believers were conducted in Nevinnomyssk (Stavropol Territory).

Case of Samsonov and Others in Neftekumsk

Case History
In August 2017, security forces conducted a raid on believers from Neftekumsk during a picnic. More than half of the 18 detained persons were children, the elderly and disabled persons. In December 2018, the FSB initiated a criminal case for extremism. Homes of local believers were searched. Shamil Sultanov, Konstantin Samsonov and Aleksandr Akopov spent about a year in a detention center. The prosecution repeatedly called convicted persons as witnesses. Some of them did not know the defendants. The defense pointed to the fabrication of the case materials. In March 2022, the prosecutor requested 9 years in a penal colony for Samsonov and 8 years each for Akopov and Sultanov. In April 2022, the court sentenced Samsonov to 7.5 years in a penal colony, Akopov and Sultanov each received a fine of 500,000 rubles. Following the results of the appeal, in August 2022, Samsonov paid a fine of 400,000 rubles taking into account the time served in the detention center, while Akopov and Sultanov paid 250,000 rubles each. This decision was upheld by the court of cassation.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Stavropol Territory
Suspected of:
“After the decision of Russia's Supreme Court to ban the activities...of the religious organization (of Jehovah's Witnesses)...he did not renounce his religious views.”
Court case number:
December 7, 2018
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigative Department of the Directorate of the FSB of Russia for the Stavropol Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1), 282.3 (1)
Court case number:
1-1/2022 (1-46/2021)
Нефтекумский районный суд Ставропольского края
Максим Мазикин
Case History