Photo: Invasion of believers in Tomsk (2018)

Actions of Law Enforcement Officers

A new wave of searches in the homes of believers in Omsk

Omsk Region

On May 8, 2019, searches were carried out in Omsk in approximately 5 homes of citizens whom law enforcement officers consider to be Jehovah's Witnesses. The raid was sanctioned the day before by Oksana Voltornist, a judge of the Kuibyshevsky District Court of Omsk. The searches took place as part of a criminal case against the Polyakovs.

Investigators brought to court a list of people who, according to the Investigative Committee, were previously members of the Omsk, Kazakh congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. The court was not interested in the question of whether "Omsk, Kazakh" was related to the organization banned by the court. The very existence of the list was considered by Judge Voltornist to be sufficient reason to turn the lives of innocent citizens into a nightmare by authorizing searches of their homes.

For example, one of the houses was invaded by a group of 8 people, some of them wearing masks. During the search, investigators and operatives rummaged through closets, filmed everything, humiliated the human dignity of citizens and made offensive comments about their faith. In at least one case, the investigating officer did not allow the landlady to cross out the remaining empty fields when drawing up the report.

After the searches, the believers were taken for interrogation to investigator Denis Levchenko. This criminal case was initiated in June 2018. Spouses Sergey and Anastasia Polyakov spent exactly five months in solitary confinement. By subjecting the spouses to such cruel treatment, law enforcement officers forced them, in fact, to incriminate themselves and other people. In December 2018, the couple were placed under house arrest. Their current preventive measure is a written undertaking not to leave.

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, the President of the Russian Federation, as well as international organizations - the European Union External Action Service, observers of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights - 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."

Case of the Polyakovs and Others in Omsk

Case history
In 2018, the Polyakovs were arrested in Omsk. During the arrest, Sergei was beaten and forced to wipe his blood off the floor. The couple spent five months in solitary confinement and three months under house arrest. In 2019, the Investigative Committee again searched the houses of believers, and Gaukhar Bektemirova and Dinara Dyusekeyeva became defendants in the case. The court considered the case for almost a year. Evidence of guilt was even sought in cartoons seized during the search. In November 2020, Sergey Polyakov was sentenced to three years in a penal colony, and three women were given suspended sentences: Anastasiya Polyakova—two and a half years; Gaukhar Bektemirova—two years and three months; Dinara Dyusekeyeva—two years. In May 2021, the appeal court upheld the verdict, and in June 2022, this verdict was upheld by the cassation court. In November 2022, Sergei Polyakov was released after serving his full term in a penal colony, and in January 2023, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation partially granted Polyakov’s appeal regarding the term of his sentence.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Omsk Region
Locality:
Omsk
Suspected of:
according to the investigation she participated in religious services, which is interpreted as participating in 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:
11802520007000028
Initiated:
June 20, 2018
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigating:
Azov Inter-district Investigative Department of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Omsk Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2), 282.2 (1), 282.3 (1)
Court case number:
1-801/2019
Court:
Первомайский районный суд г. Омска
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Денис Першукевич
Background