Photo: raid on believers in the Nizhny Novgorod region (July 2019)

Actions of Law Enforcement Officers

Elderly Woman Facing the Floor and Planted Material Evidence: Details of the Raid on Believers in Sochi

Krasnodar Territory

On the evening of October 10, 2019, groups of armed special forces broke down the doors and broke into the apartments of dozens of Sochi residents through the balcony. Both young and old were laid face down on the floor. The action, resembling a special operation against terrorists, turned out to be searches of those who believe in God differently from others.

Searches in the homes of peaceful believers were carried out at at least 19 addresses in Sochi and its environs. Not only local security officials participated in the special operation, judging by the license plates, even outfits from the Rostov and Volgograd regions joined.

The reason for the raid in Sochi was a criminal case under the " extremist" article 282.2 (1) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, which is being investigated by the senior investigator of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Krasnodar Territory, Senior Lieutenant of Justice D. Petrunnikov.

They stormed through the balcony. Vyacheslav and Yulia Popov are among those to whom special forces raided the apartment. The assault began at about 7 p.m. Armed masked men burst through the balcony, breaking the handrails. At this time, there were children at home who were very frightened and crying. The security forces immediately took Vyacheslav away for interrogation, then, presenting the decision of the judge of the Central District Court of Sochi, began a search that lasted more than an hour and a half. Cell phones, tablets and other computer equipment were seized from the family, as well as some printed publications, notebooks with personal notes and postcards.

The whole family is at gunpoint. On the same evening, employees of the Investigative Committee, accompanied by the National Guard, invaded the house of 26-year-old Normund Gudin. They forced the entire family, including Normund's parents and even his elderly grandmother, to lie on the floor at gunpoint. The search lasted more than three hours. During the search of another family, Vladislav and Alla Martynov, law enforcement officers planted a religious publication that did not belong to them. The security forces admitted that it was unpleasant for them themselves, but that was their job.

A search warrant issued by Anna Voronkova, a judge of the Central District Court of Sochi, was presented as grounds for the intrusion.

Two believers in a pre-trial detention center. As a result of the raid on believers in Sochi, two people were detained - 68-year-old Nikolai Kuzichkin and 45-year-old Vyacheslav Popov. On October 11, a trial was held, Judge Shevelev decided to arrest them and place them in a pre-trial detention center until November 24. Believers came to support their relatives, friends and acquaintances, some gathered at the entrance to the building. They supported their fellow believers with applause as the paddy wagon took them to the place of detention.

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
Case History