Photo: Alexey Miretsky

Criminal trial

"Peacefulness is an integral part of my personality." Alexei Miretskiy's last word at the trial in Saratov

Saratov Region

What did Alexei Miretsky say on September 19, 2019, before the Leninsky District Court of Saratov sentenced him, along with five fellow believers, to various terms of imprisonment for their faith? The full text of the defendant's last word is given.

In his speech, Alexey Miretsky stressed that Jehovah's Witnesses cannot be associated with extremism for the simple reason that then they will not be able to be called Jehovah's Witnesses. He explains: "The standards of the Bible in many areas of life are higher than those established by the criminal and other laws of the state. If the penal code only requires me not to harm other people, then God's law encourages me to show love, kindness, compassion, and even love to all people who hate me."

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Case of Bazhenov and Others in Saratov

Case history
In September 2019, Judge Dmitry Larin immediately sent 6 Saratov residents to prison for a term of 2 to 3.5 years just for reading the Bible, singing songs and praying. Since 2017, security forces have been conducting covert surveillance of believers. In the summer of 2018, their homes were searched with banned literature planted. While the investigation was underway, they had to go to a pre-trial detention center, under house arrest and under recognizance not to leave. A year later, despite the absence of victims in the case, the believers were found guilty. Upon arrival at the Orenburg colony, 5 out of 6 convicted believers were beaten by the staff of the institution. Mahammadiev was hospitalized, and the rest were placed in a punishment cell for a while. Saratov prisoners of conscience have mastered various professions in prison. In May 2020, Mahammadiev and Bazhenov were stripped of their Russian citizenship and, after their release, deported from Russia. All 6 believers have already served their sentences. In September 2022, the cassation court dismissed the complaint, and the verdict and the appellate ruling were unchanged.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Saratov Region
Suspected of:
according to the investigation, together with others he conducted religious services, which is interpreted as “organising 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:
June 9, 2018
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigative Department of the Directorate of the FSB of Russia for the Saratov Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number: