Photo: Invasion of Jehovah's Witnesses in Surgut (2018)

Actions of Law Enforcement Officers

In Dagestan, a raid on Jehovah's Witnesses. Three men and one woman were arrested


On June 3, 2019, the Sovetsky District Court of Makhachkala sent 40-year-old Arsen Abdullaev, 38-year-old Maria Karpova, 34-year-old Anton Dergalev and 27-year-old Marat Abdulgalimov to the pre-trial detention center for 2 months. Two days earlier, on June 1, 2019, in Makhachkala, Kaspiysk, Kizlyar, and Derbent, masked and bulletproof FSB officers armed with assault rifles invaded approximately 10 homes of law-abiding local residents accused of practicing the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses.

During the intrusion into the Abdullaevs' apartment, the security forces knocked the head of the family to the floor face down, and blocked his wife and son in the room. They announced a search warrant and immediately "found" 2 religious brochures in the corridor, which were planted by someone from the seizure group. After that, without being given the opportunity to eat, Arsen and his wife, Suat, were taken for interrogation to the "E" center, and later to the republican FSB, where they were interrogated until the evening. The operation was led by an FSB investigator known as Ivan Yemelyanov.

During the interrogation, the spouses were orally told that they were both suspected under the article "Organization of the activities of an extremist organization", Arsen as an "organizer", and Suat as a "participant". The investigator offered Arsen to plead guilty, but when he said that he had nothing to confess to, the investigator said: "Then there will be consequences." After that, Arsen was detained.

Dagestan became the 39th region of Russia, where the same type of criminal cases have been opened against Jehovah's Witnesses. Law enforcement officers inappropriately call the religion of citizens 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 Abdullaev and Others in Makhachkala

Case History
In the summer of 2019, the homes of local Jehovah’s Witnesses were searched in four cities of Dagestan. Two religious brochures on the list of extremist materials were planted in one of the homes. Prior to this, the FSB initiated a criminal case against Arsen Abdullaev, Anton Dergalev, Marat Abdulgalimov and Mariya Karpova, accusing them of organizing the activities of an extremist organization. Additionally, the three men were charged with financing a banned organization, while the woman was charged with involving others in it. All four were put on the Rosfinmonitoring list of extremists and terrorists. The believers spent 362 days in pre-trial detention, after which they were placed under house arrest. In 2020, the cassation court declared that their detention in a pre-trial detention center for 8 out of 12 months was unlawful. In March 2021, the consideration of the case on the merits began. In November 2022, the court gave Abdullayev, Abdulgalimov and Dergalev 6.5 year suspended sentences and gave Karpova a 6 year suspended sentence.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Suspected of:
According to the investigation “together with others he conducted religious services, so-called ‘meetings’, during which they studied the printed materials of the banned organization ‘Administrative Centre of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia’ with the participation of residents of the Republic of Daghestan”
Court case number:
May 27, 2019
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigative Department of the Directorate of the FSB of Russia for the Republic of Daghestan
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1), 282.3 (1), 282.2 (1.1)
Court case number:
1-5/2022 (1-230/2021)
Кировский районный суд г. Махачкалы
Амиров Амир
Case History