Photo: Alexander Pryanikov, Venera Dulova, Daria Dulova

Unjust Verdicts

In Karpinsk, the Faith of a Man and Two Women Leads to Criminal Convictions

Sverdlovsk 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.

Case of Prianikov and Others in Karpinsk

Case history
In June 2018, Venera Dulova and Aleksandr Pryanikov were detained for talking about the Bible. A criminal case was opened against them under an extremist article. A year later, Daria Dulova became the third defendant in the case. In January 2020, they were sentenced to suspended sentences ranging from 1 year to 2.5 years. An appeal in Yekaterinburg overturned the verdict and returned the case to the court of first instance. This time, the prosecutor requested a more severe punishment, but the court duplicated the first verdict. In March 2022, the appellate court again overturned the verdict, acquitting the believers. The cassation court did not change this decision. However, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation overturned it in March 2023 and returned the case to the appeal stage, which returned the case to the prosecutor’s office, after which the cassation sent it for a new appeal hearing. A fourth appellate decision upheld the convictions of Aleksandr and Venera. Daria is exempt from criminal liability, as the statute of limitations has expired. All three believers are defendants in another criminal case for their faith.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Sverdlovsk Region
Locality:
Karpinsk
Suspected of:
"Within the jurisdiction of the city of Karpinsk... together with a group of people, being fully aware that the religious organization Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia was declared extremist and its activities in the Russian Federation were prohibited, [he] participated in its activities by directly taking part in events, carrying out propaganda of its activities, familiarizing with religious literature."
Court case number:
11802650042000038
Initiated:
July 30, 2018
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigating:
СО в г. Краснотурьинске СУ Следственного комитета РФ по Свердловской области
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-11/2021 (1-184/2020; 1-5/2020; 1-167/2019)
Court:
Карпинский городской суд Свердловской области
Background