Dennis Christensen. Photo source: Simon Kruse / Berlingske

Unjust Verdicts

Dennis Christensen found guilty, sentence to be appealed

Oryol Region

On February 6, 2019, Dennis Christensen was found guilty under Article 282.2 (1) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. He was sentenced to 6 years in prison to be served in a general regime colony. The decision did not come into force.

The verdict was handed down by Judge Alexei Rudnev, judge of the Zheleznodorozhny District Court of Orel. Lawyers consider this verdict unjust and are preparing an appeal. Meanwhile, Dennis Christensen will be in pre-trial detention center No. 1 in the Oryol region, where he has already spent 622 days. Letters of support can be sent to him.

Yaroslav Sivulsky of the European Association of Jehovah's Witnesses commented on the verdict: "The verdict is only very regrettable. A man who had not committed any crime was convicted. It is sad that in Russia it has again become a crime to read the Bible, keep its commandments and talk about one's faith with other people."

Case of Christensen in Oryol

Case history
Dennis Christensen is the first Jehovah’s Witness in modern Russia to be imprisoned only because of his faith. He was arrested in May 2017. The FSB accused the believer of organizing the activities of a banned organization on the basis of the testimony of a secret witness, theologian Oleg Kurdyumov from a local university, who kept covert audio and video recordings of conversations with Christensen about faith. There are no extremist statements or victims in the case. In 2019, the court sentenced Christensen to 6 years in prison. The believer was serving time in the Lgov colony. He repeatedly asked for the replacement of part of the unserved term with a fine. For the first time, the court granted the request, but the prosecutor’s office appealed this decision, and the prison administration threw the believer into a punishment cell on trumped-up charges. Christensen developed illnesses that prevented him from working in prison. On May 24, 2022, the believer was released after serving his sentence and was immediately deported to his homeland, Denmark.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Oryol Region
Locality:
Oryol
Suspected of:
according to the investigation, together with the others he conducted religious services, which is interpreted as “organising the activity of an extremist organisation” (with reference to the court’s decision on the liquidation of the local organisation of Jehovah’s Witnesses)
Court case number:
11707540001500164
Initiated:
May 23, 2017
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigating:
UFSB of Russia in the Oryol region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-37/1
[i18n] Рассмотрено судом первой инстанции:
Железнодорожный районный суд г. Орла
Judge:
Алексей Николаевич Руднев
[i18n] Суд апелляционной инстанции:
Орловский областной суд
[i18n] Суд апелляционной инстанции:
Льговский райсуд Курской области
Background