PHOTO: Andrey Sazonov (February 2019)

Criminal Investigation and Trial

In the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug-Yugra, the court sent the believer under arrest for 55 days

Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area

On February 8, 2019, Arkady Koba, a judge of the Khanty-Mansiysk District Court, ordered Andrey Sazonov, a 38-year-old husband and father believed to be one of Jehovah's Witnesses, to be sent to a pre-trial detention center. A few days earlier, on January 31, 2019, the Investigative Committee of the Investigative Committee of Russia opened a criminal case against him and other residents of Urai (Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug) under Parts 1 and 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (organization and participation in the activities of an extremist organization).

Earlier, on February 6, 2019, mass searches were carried out in the homes of Jehovah's Witnesses in the city.

Law enforcers mistakenly mistake citizens' religion for participation in the activities of an extremist organization. Prominent public figures of Russia, the Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation, as well as the President of the Russian Federation himself drew attention to this problem. Jehovah's Witnesses have nothing to do with extremism and insist on their complete innocence. The Russian government has repeatedly stated that the decisions of the Russian courts on the liquidation and prohibition of organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses "do not assess the doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses, do not contain a restriction or prohibition to practice the above teachings individually."

The Case of Sazonov in Uray

Case History
In January 2019, Andrey Sazonov, the father of two minor children and deputy general director of an energy company, faced persecution for his faith. The investigator of the Investigative Committee initiated a criminal case against him for organizing extremist activity. After a search and interrogation, the believer was placed in a pretrial detention center for 20 days, then placed under house arrest, and 6 months later under a ban on certain actions. Later, Andrey Sazonov was also charged with financing the activity of an extremist organization. The court considered the case from June 2020 to December 2021. As a result, Sazonov was sentenced to a fine of 500,000 rubles. The court of appeal overturned this decision and sent the case for a new trial to the same court, but with a different panel of judges. In June 2022, the second hearing began, and in October 2023, the court imposed a fine of 450,000 rubles on the believer. In January 2024, a court of appeal overturned the verdict for a second and sent the case back for reconsideration.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area
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)
Court case number:
January 31, 2019
Current case stage:
trial in court of first instance
Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Khanty-Mansi Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1), 282.3 (1)
Court case number:
Урайский городской суд ХМАО-Югра
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Виктор Ярышев
Case History