Illustrative photo

Criminal Investigation and Trial

Special services detained 13 believers near Nizhny Novgorod

Nizhegorod Region

During a special operation of special services in the Nizhny Novgorod region, at least 13 believers were detained. One of them, 48-year-old Alexei Oreshkov, is still in the temporary detention facility. Another is under house arrest. The fate of the rest is being investigated.

Mass searches and detentions in Nizhny Novgorod, the cities of Pavlovo and Bor (Nizhny Novgorod region) took place on July 16 and 17, 2019. The security forces invaded the homes of believers, seized computer equipment and electronic drives. In some cases, special forces soldiers laid the residents of the house "face to face", saying: "We know everything about you."

Peaceful meetings of believers who adhere to the doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses are inappropriately interpreted by security officials throughout Russia as a continuation of the activities of banned religious organizations. This is despite the clearly articulated position of the authorities that the decision of the Russian Supreme Court to ban Russian organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses "does not contain a restriction or prohibition to practice the above teachings individually."

Case of Vavilov and Oreshkov in Pavlovo

Case History
In July 2019, mass searches and detentions of Jehovah’s Witnesses took place in Nizhny Novgorod and the city of Pavlovo. The Federal Security Service of Russia for the Nizhny Novgorod Region initiated a criminal case on the suspicion that unidentified persons were participating in extremist activity — this is how the investigation classified the worship of believers. The security forces detained Aleksey Oreshkov and Aleksandr Vavilov and placed them in pretrial detention for 211 and 241 days, respectively. Later, the FSB added Aleksandr Rakovskiy to the same case as a defendant. In January 2021, the case went to court. Despite fabricated testimonies in the case and the fact that there were no victims, in October 2021 the court imposed a 3-year suspended sentence on the peaceful believers. In January 2022, the regional court, and in December the cassation court, left this sentence unchanged.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Nizhegorod Region
Suspected of:
"Realizing a joint criminal intent, acting intentionally, by a group of persons by prior conspiracy . . . took active steps aimed at . . . conducting religious speeches and services”
Court case number:
July 16, 2019
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigative Department of the Directorate of the FSB of Russia for the Nizhniy Novgorod Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
Court of First Instance:
Павловский районный суд Нижегородской области
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Дмитрий Пестов
Case History