Photo: Timofey Zhukov

Criminal trial

Jehovah’s Witness From Surgut Sent to Yekaterinburg to Undergo Unprecedented 30-Day Psychiatric Examination

Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area

On January 16, 2020, Judge Tatyana Slyusareva of the Surgut City Court issued a ruling according to which Timofey Zhukov , a believer from Surgut, must go to Yekaterinburg and go to a psychiatric hospital for an unprecedented period of up to 30 days, which is comparable to detention.

The believer was ordered to arrive at the Sverdlovsk Regional Psychiatric Hospital (Yekaterinburg) by February 5 for examination. The court's decision has not yet entered into force, since on January 20 Zhukov appealed it to the Judicial Collegium for Criminal Cases of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug - Yugra.

Although psychiatric examination of defendants in criminal cases is standard practice, doctors are usually only convinced of their sanity and ability to independently defend their rights. The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis. However, investigator Guselnikov ordered a psychiatric examination in a hospital only on the fact of professing the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses. This practice has no precedent in the modern history of persecution of followers of this faith.

Timofey Zhukov is an experienced lawyer and takes an active position to protect himself and help other victims of the actions of the security forces. In his appeal against Judge Slyusareva's decision, he draws attention to the fact that religious beliefs, which is a form of discrimination and political repression, are cited as the basis for the appointment of an inpatient forensic psychiatric examination.

Another reason the investigation saw in the fact that during the preliminary outpatient examination, the accused refused to answer some questions, referring to Article 51 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation. This supposedly casts doubt on his sanity. The case file cynically states: "It is not possible to assess the somato-neurological state of the subject because of his refusal to participate in the examination."

In the appeal, Zhukov draws attention to other procedural violations: the secrecy of the court session, errors in the production of materials, the inability to familiarize himself with the case materials, and the violation of the defendant's right to defense.

"My placement in a psychiatric hospital ... is an act of political repression against me and other citizens professing the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses, deployed in the Russian Federation by a number of senior officials," the text of the complaint says. "[...] The continuation of these repressions against me is caused solely by the reaction of investigator Guselnikov and Judge Slyusareva to the exercise of my right, provided for in Article 51 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, not to testify against myself, in order to force me to testify either out of fear or as a result of the forced administration of psychotropic drugs."

Currently, 21 residents of Surgut are awaiting trial just because they believe in Jehovah God (see details in the "case of Loginov and others in Surgut"). Increased attention to this Siberian city was attracted by the torture to which the security forces decided to subject civilians because of their faith. The religion of Jehovah's Witnesses is not prohibited in Russia.

Case of Loginov and Others in Surgut

Case History
In February 2019, the Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against 18 men and 1 woman from Surgut (among them was a man mistaken for a Jehovah’s Witness). Their homes were searched. During the interrogations, 7 believers were subjected to violence. Artur Severinchik was sent to a pre-trial detention center for 29 days, and Yevgeny Fedin and Sergey Loginov - for 56. Timofey Zhukov was illegally placed in a psychiatric hospital for 14 days. Believers complained about the use of torture to the Investigative Committee, the ECHR and the Commissioner for Human Rights, a press conference was held with the participation of human rights defenders, but none of the security forces was ever brought to justice. In October 2021, the case materials were submitted to the court. The prosecutor requested imprisonment for the defendants for a term of 3 years and 3 months to 8.5 years in prison, and for Loginov - 9.5 years, which was the most severe request for punishment for believing in Jehovah God in modern Russia.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area
Suspected of:
delivering speeches, engaging in the Witnesses' public preaching activity with local members, meeting with Bible education volunteers and appointed congregation assistants, and having as one objective the organizing of appointed men in the Vzlyotnove Congregation
Court case number:
February 11, 2019
Current case stage:
verdict did not take effect
Investigative Department of the city of Surgut of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Khanty-Mansi Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1), 282.3 (1), 282.2 (2)
Court case number:
№ 1-27/2023 (1-130/2022; 1-1348/2021)
Сургутский городской суд
Дмитрий Люпин
Case History