Photo: Sochi, Olympic Park

Actions of Law Enforcement Officers

There is a mass raid on Jehovah's Witnesses in Sochi. At Least Two Believers Detained

Krasnodar Territory

On the evening of October 10, 2019, groups of armed, masked security officers, sometimes with dogs, invaded at least 19 homes of Jehovah's Witnesses in Sochi, Krasnodar Territory. During the searches, 68-year-old Nikolai Kuzichkin and 45-year-old Vyacheslav Popov were detained.

Searches took place in Dagomys, Khost, Sochi, Adler, Krasnaya Polyana and the villages of Veseloe and Chereshnya. Law enforcement officers drove up in cars with local license plates, as well as in cars from the Rostov region.

In some cases, the seizure groups cordoned off the homes of believers and broke locks. During the searches, electronic devices and books about the Bible were seized.

The ban and liquidation of legal entities of Jehovah's Witnesses in 2017 have long escalated into real persecution of ordinary believers, most of whom have never been members of liquidated legal entities. Recently, the number of criminal cases has increased significantly, dozens of men and women are behind bars. The believers are waiting for the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), where they filed a complaint.

Update. A total of 36 searches were conducted in Sochi in one day on October 10, 2019. The geography of the roundup: from the Lazarevskoye microdistrict up to the village of Krasnaya Polyana in the mountains and the village of Veseloye near the border with Abkhazia. (The events in Sochi broke the sad record of Nizhny Novgorod, where on July 16, 2019, 35 searches were carried out in the homes of believers.)

Case of Kuzichkin and Popov in Sochi

Case history
In October 2019, special services conducted 36 raids in the Krasnodar Territory, during which Nikolay Kuzichkin and Vyacheslav Popov were detained. Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Krasnodar Territory accuses believers of convening and conducting worship services. Judge Nikolay Shevelev decided to detain both men for their convictions. Despite the rapidly deteriorating health, elderly Nikolay Kuzichkin was left in a pre-trial detention center, which was a serious threat to his life for six months. Vyacheslav’s large family was also going through difficult times when the head of the family was in custody and could not take care of his relatives. Judge of the Khostinsky District Court of Sochi, Yuriy Pilipenko, found the believers guilty of organizing the activities of an extremist organization and sentenced Nikolay to imprisonment for 1 year and 1 month, and Vyacheslav — 1 year and 10 months. Since the believers had already served these terms in a pre-trial detention center, they were released on December 18 and 29, 2020, respectively.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Krasnodar Territory
Suspected of:
по версии следствия, «предприняли действия организационного характера... выражающиеся в созыве, открытии и закрытии собраний, организации религиозных выступлений и богослужений на данных собраниях, координации хода встреч, предложений тем для обсуждения, осуществлении... проповеднической деятельности» (из постановления о возбуждении уголовного дела)
Court case number:
September 24, 2019
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
СУ СК РФ по Краснодарскому краю
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
Хостинский районный суд г. Сочи