Photo: Evgeny Udintsev

Criminal trial

In Kirov, the Investigator Considered a 70-year-old Witness an Extremist. He Faces up to 10 Years in Prison

Kirov Region

On December 13, 2019, in Kirov, 70-year-old Yevgeny Udintsev was charged with organizing an extremist organization. A few months earlier, he and other believers had been searched.

In March 2019, a criminal case was opened against Yevgeny Udintsev under a milder article, when investigators "appointed" him as a member of an organization banned in Russia (Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). Until December 13, 2019, he had the status of a suspect. Now, after several months of investigation, the investigator for especially important cases, Georgy Malykh, has formulated an accusation against Yevgeny Udintsev under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation - organizing the activities of a banned organization. If the court finds the elderly believer guilty, he could face up to 10 years in prison. Together with Yevgeny Udintsev, Alexander Shamov and Andrey Shchepin are accused in this criminal case.

The essence of the actions that the security forces considered extremist was reading the Bible, singing songs with fellow believers, including in Udintsev's apartment, and paying utility bills for an empty worship building. This, as in many similar cases, is called in the case file undermining "the foundations of the constitutional order and security of the state" and "religious hatred."

The investigator's decision to toughen the indictment against Udintsev indicates about 60 dates when believers gathered for joint meetings. Probably, all this time, law enforcement officers were watching civilians.

On December 30, 2019, Yevgeny Udintsev was notified of the end of the investigation.

The Udintsev case serves as further evidence that in Russia the statistics of the disclosure of "extremist" criminal cases are largely formed at the expense of harmless believers. Dozens of elderly men and women face criminal prosecution in different regions of the country. In December 2019, residents of Nevinnomyssk (Stavropol Territory) joined this list. In Kirov alone, at least 3 criminal cases against 11 people are being investigated. Five of the defendants are men of retirement age.

Case of Shchepin and Others in Kirov

Case History
In 2019, the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Kirov Region opened a criminal case for their faith against Alexander Shamov, Andrey Shchepin and Yevgeny Udintsev. The investigation interpreted joint worship services as organizing the activities of an extremist organization. The accusation was based on recordings of meetings of believers made by the FSB agent “Plastin”, who portrayed an interest in the Bible. Shchepin spent 2 days in the temporary detention center and more than 2 years under the ban on certain actions. Later, he, as well as Udintsev and Shamov, took a written undertaking not to leave. In June 2020, the case went to court. The prosecutor asked to appoint Shchepin and Shamov from 2 to 4 years in prison, and Udintsev - a large fine. In July 2021, the court imposed a monetary penalty on all three in the amount of 200,000 to 500,000 rubles. The appellate court, and then the cassation, upheld the verdict against the peaceful believers.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Kirov Region
Suspected of:
according to the investigation, together with others he conducted religious services, which is interpreted as organising and participating in 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:
March 26, 2019
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Kirov Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-11/2021 (1-372/2020)
Ленинский районный суд г. Кирова
Сергей Швайцер
Case History