Photo: center of Yoshkar-Ola

Criminal Investigation and Trial

A criminal case for faith in Yoshkar-Ola. A young woman was sent to jail

Mari El

On October 3, 2019, in the capital of the Republic of Mari El, searches were carried out in the homes of believers. According to preliminary data, the case under the article "participation in the activities of an extremist organization" (part 2 of article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) was initiated against 30-year-old Ekaterina Pegasheva, she was sent to pre-trial detention center No. 1 in the city of Yoshkar-Ola. Thus, 7 women and 33 men are in various prisons in Russia for practicing the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses.

It is known about three searches in the case of Ekaterina Pegasheva: two took place in Yoshkar-Ola, one in the village of Pirogovo (Kirov region), where her mother lives. During the searches, books and videos, electronic devices, personal letters and documents were seized, including even a school certificate and a certificate of passing the exam. Other details of the incident are being clarified.

The number of criminal cases against peaceful believers is growing throughout the country, despite the explanation of the Government of the Russian Federation that the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses is not prohibited and citizens have the right to practice it. This was recently confirmed by the district court in Kostroma.

Case of Pegasheva in Yoshkar-Ola

Case History
30-year-old Yekaterina Pegasheva from Mari El was under investigation for “conducting conversations with unidentified persons” and “participating in events” - meetings and discussions of the Bible with fellow believers. Yekaterina helped local residents learn about God from the Bible. According to law enforcement officers, by doing this the believer committed “a grave crime against the foundations of the constitutional order and the security of the state.” After the arrest, the woman immediately ended up in a pre-trial detention center. The house of her mother, who lives in the village and by herself takes care of Yekaterina’s elderly grandmother, was raided and searched. After spending about four months behind bars, Yekaterina lost her job and her health suffered. She was under house arrest for 500 days. The prosecutor requested seven years in prison for the believer. On May 31, 2021, Judge of the Gornomarisky District Court of the Republic of Mari El, Nikolai Ayplatov, sentenced Yekaterina to six and a half years of suspended sentence with a probationary period of four years. The Supreme Court of the Republic of Mari El upheld the decision of the court of first instance. The court of cassation followed the same path.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Mari El
Suspected of:
According to the investigation she “deliberately continued her illegal activities ... by talking to unidentified persons in order to promote the activities of the banned religious extremist organization ‘Jehovah's Witnesses’, as well as by directly participating in the events held by the banned organization”
Court case number:
September 26, 2019
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigative Department of the Directorate of the FSB of Russia for Mari El Republic
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-1-5/2021 (1-1-129/2020)
Горномарийский районный суд Республики Марий Эл
Николай Айплатов
Case History