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Criminal Investigation and Trial

A resident of Primorsky Krai was sent to a pre-trial detention center for her faith

Primorye Territory

On April 20, 2019, Irina Buglak, who was detained on April 19 during searches in the homes of believers in Partizansk (Primorye Territory), was arrested and sent to a pre-trial detention center on suspicion of extremism. The court considered talking about biblical topics at home "a serious crime against the foundations of the constitutional order."

The first search in the homes of partisans suspected of practicing the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses began on April 19 after 8 p.m. in the apartment of 80-year-old Nelly Tarasyuk. At this time, the landlady was visiting several women. Security officials from the FSB and the Investigative Committee rang the doorbell and introduced themselves as medical workers. Those present opened, after which 8 law enforcement officers entered the apartment and began to search the house, filming what was happening on video. During the search, Nelly Tarasyuk became ill, it was necessary to call an ambulance.

At night, those who were in the apartment, except for the hostess, were taken to the investigation department. The detainees were released in turn from 4 to 7 a.m. Everyone was released except 44-year-old Irina Buglak.

At three o'clock in the morning, the security forces took Irina Buglak to her place of residence to conduct another search there. According to eyewitnesses of the events, during the interrogations, the operatives admitted that the operation had been prepared since 2018, they were spying on the woman on social networks and tapping the phone. Irina's left arm was lost from the stress of the searches. Nevertheless, she was taken to the local temporary detention center.

On April 20, 2019, the judge of the Partizansky City Court, Maria Sundyukova, decided to arrest Irina Buglak for 2 months - until June 20, 2019. At the same time, the court ignored the fact that Irina's detention was carried out with violations - she was not provided with a lawyer in a timely manner and her rights were not explained.

Bochkarev, an investigator of the Investigative Department for Partizansk of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Primorsky Territory, who petitioned for Irina's arrest, accuses her of continuing the activities of the local religious organization (LRO) of Jehovah's Witnesses "Partizansk". The investigator believes that this organization was banned by a court decision, but in fact this LRO ceased to exist in 2015 and was never banned by the court.

According to investigators, Irina met with fellow believers to communicate on spiritual topics. As stated in the court order on her arrest, "the person was caught after committing a crime, obvious traces of a crime were found in his home." The investigator considers prayers and discussions of the Bible to be a "serious crime committed against the foundations of the constitutional order." This is not prohibited either by the Russian Constitution or by the decision of the Supreme Court, which, according to the Russian government, concerns only the legal bodies of Jehovah's Witnesses, and not the religion of citizens.

An appeal has already been filed against the decision of Judge Maria Sundyukova with the Primorsky Regional Court. In addition, an appeal is being prepared on the fact of the illegal arrest of a peace-loving woman to the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Primorsky Territory, Yuri Melnikov, as well as to the Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights.

The case of Buglak in Partizansk

Case History
A criminal case was initiated against economist Irina Buglak for organizing the activity of an extremist organization. She was detained in the spring of 2019 after searches were conducted. The believer spent six months in a detention center, then three and a half months under house arrest. According to the court order for Irina’s arrest, “the person was caught right after committing the crime.” The investigator of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation considered praying and discussing the Bible to be a “serious crime.” In January 2020, the case went to court. After a year of hearings, it was returned to the prosecutor’s office. A new trial in the same court began in October 2021. The prosecutor requested that Irina Buglak receive a six-year-and-five-month suspended sentence. In June 2023, the court gave her a two-year-and-six-month suspended sentence.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Primorye Territory
Suspected of:
[to be determined]
Court case number:
April 19, 2019
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
[to be determined]
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1), 282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-2/2023 (1-13/2022; 1-191/2021)
Партизанский городской суд Приморского края
Дарья Дидур
Case History