Photo: Alexander Pryanikov, Venera Dulova, Daria Dulova
In Karpinsk, the Faith of a Man and Two Women Leads to Criminal ConvictionsSverdlovsk Region
On January 27, 2020, a judge of the Karpinsky City Court of the Sverdlovsk Region, Svetlana Gabbasova, decided in the case of three peaceful civilians under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code (participation in extremism). All received suspended sentences lasting from one to two and a half years plus restrictions solely on the basis of their religious views.
Alexander Pryanikov received the harshest sentence - 2.5 years probation with a probationary period of 2.5 years. Venera Dulova was given a 2-year suspended sentence with a probationary period of 2 years; Darya Dulova — 1 year probation with a probationary period of 1 year.
All three are additionally forbidden to visit crowded places and change their place of residence. When changing jobs, it is necessary to notify the supervisory authorities. Twice a month it is necessary to report to the police. If the terms of the probation period are violated, the suspended sentence may be replaced by a real prison term.
The believers intend to appeal the illegal verdict on the basis of confessional affiliation. The religion of Jehovah's Witnesses is not prohibited in Russia.
Pryanikov and the Dulovs have become the latest victims of law enforcement agencies that interpret the usual practice of religion as participation in extremist activities or its organization. The case against the believers has been under investigation since July 30, 2018, although Aleksandr and Venera were first detained for distributing (unbanned) religious literature back in April 2016. Then they were accused of theft without evidence.
Two years later, they were equally unsubstantiated accused of extremism. The case involves a religious examination of personal notes and telephone conversations between Alexander and Venus, which established two facts: they talked about religion; religion is related to Jehovah God. That's all the "crime", the investigation of which took a year and a half. 19-year-old Daria Dulova became the youngest defendant in cases against Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia.
After the verdict in Karpinsk, the number of those unjustly convicted for believing in Jehovah in Russia reached 37.