Photo: Andrzej Oniszczuk with his wife Anna

Criminal Investigation and Trial

Andrzej Oniszczuk was released after 11 months in jail. There are no more Jehovah's Witnesses behind bars in Kirov

Kirov Region

On September 3, 2019, the judge of the Kirov Regional Court, Alexander Moseev, granted the appeal of Andrzej Oniszczuk to extend his detention. After almost a year behind bars and a ban on communicating with his wife, the believer is finally free, but on his own recognizance.

Polish citizen Andrzej Oniszczuk was arrested and placed in pre-trial detention center No. 1 in the Kirov region as a result of mass searches in the homes of believers on October 9, 2018. Then five Kirov residents were arrested, whom the investigation accused of "singing biblical songs together, improving the skills of missionary activity, studying religious literature, the so-called "Holy Scripture" (Bible)."

Later, the court softened the measure of restraint for everyone except Oniszczuk, while Andrzej continued to remain under arrest. During the 11 months of his stay in the pre-trial detention center, he was forbidden to communicate with his wife Anna, even by phone, under the pretext that she was a witness in the case.

Meanwhile, the investigation of the case against Andrzej Oniszczuk continues, for believing in God and reading the Bible with friends, he faces up to 10 years in prison under "extremist" articles 282.2 (1) and 283.2 (1) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. At the moment, 10 residents of the Kirov region are under investigation in connection with the practice of the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses. Kirov law enforcement officers continue to interpret ordinary, peaceful religion as a serious crime.

Case of Oniszczuk and Others in Kirov

Case History
In October 2018, searches of believers were carried out in Kirov. A criminal case under extremist articles was initiated against seven local residents, five of them were taken into custody, including Polish citizen Andrzej Oniszczuk, who had been in captivity for almost a year. His fellow believers spent 3 to 11 months in jail and another 6 to 9 months under house arrest. The men were included in the Rosfinmonitoring list. One of the accused, Yuriy Geraskov, died of a long illness a week before the trial. In January 2021, court hearings began. In June 2022, the believers were given suspended sentences ranging from 2.5 to 6.5 years. Yuriy Geraskov was also found guilty of extremism, but the criminal case was dismissed due to his death. The appellate court upheld the verdict against the believers.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Kirov Region
Suspected of:
according to the investigation, “they organised meetings of followers and participants of the association [Jehovah’s Witnesses] in different flats, performing actions characteristic of this association: singing Bible songs together, improving skills for missionary activity, as well as studying religious literature, the so-called ‘Holy Scriptures’ (Bible), which is on the Federal List of Extremist Materials and contains the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses”.
Court case number:
October 3, 2018
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Kirov Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1), 282.3 (1), 282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-2/2022 (1-5/2021; 1-123/2020)
Court of First Instance:
Первомайский районный суд Кирова
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Тимур Юсупов
Case History