Photo: Sergey Ledenyov with his wife

Criminal trial

Another bold decision of the court: in Kamchatka, the criminal case against the believer Sergey Ledenev is returned to the prosecutor's office

Kamchatka Territory

On December 12, 2019, the judge of the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky City Court, Sergey Lubnin, returned the criminal case against Sergey Ledenev to the prosecutor. As a rule, the court returns the case if serious violations are found in the indictment.

Sergey Ledenyov is accused of professing the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses. He learned about the criminal case on December 2, 2018, when his house was searched. This is not the first criminal case for faith initiated in Kamchatka. In July 2018, Mikhail and Yelena Popov were arrested in Vilyuchinsk after a series of searches, and in August of the same year, Konstantin and Snezhana Bazhenov and pensioner Vera Zolotova from Yelizovo were sent to the temporary detention facility.

This is not the first time that Russian courts have refused to consider criminal cases against civilians who are Jehovah's Witnesses. Thus, in Kamchatka, the criminal case of the Bazhenov spouses and others in Yelizovo was returned to the prosecutor's office. The courts also refused to hear the case against Valentin Osadchuk and 6 elderly women in Vladivostok, the case of Igor Ivashin in Yakutia, the case of Karimov and others in Tatarstan, and the case of the Rayman couple in Kostroma. Despite the courageous decisions of the judges, believers are still in the status of accused and face long prison terms.

Case of Ledenyov in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy

Case History
“They liquidated a legal entity, but they are persecuting an individual. If a hospital is closed, doctors are not judged for being doctors.” So a peaceful believer from Kamchatka, Sergey Ledenyov, had to explain the obvious in court. In December 2018, a criminal case was opened against him under Article 282.2 (1) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. The investigator accused Ledenyov of organizing extremist activities, imputing “planned training in the postulates of the religious association Jehovah’s Witnesses.” At a preliminary hearing, the court returned the case to the prosecutor, but the supervisory authority eventually insisted that the case be considered in court. At the hearings in the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky City Court, chaired by Natalia Lychkova, witnesses, a religious scholar, and the defendant himself repeatedly emphasized the peacefulness of Jehovah’s Witnesses and their incompatibility with extremism. Nevertheless, the prosecutor demanded that the court imprison Ledenyov for 6 years in a colony. In November 2020, the court sentenced him to 2 years of suspended imprisonment. On January 19, 2021, the appellate court upheld the verdict. On August 19, 2022, the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky City Court expunged Sergey’s criminal record ahead of schedule.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Kamchatka Territory
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:
December 2, 2018
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigative Department of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of Russia for the Kamchatka Territory
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
Court of First Instance:
Петропавловск-Камчатский городской суд Камчатского края
Лычкова Наталья Геннадьевна
Case History