Illustrative photo

Actions of Law Enforcement Officers

The Krasnodar FSB, Together with the Cossacks, Raided Believers in Two Villages. Bibles and Electronic Devices Seized

Krasnodar Territory

In the morning of April 29, 2020, groups of armed security forces invaded at least seven homes of residents of Pavlovskaya and Kholmskaya villages for searches and interrogations, exposing believers to the risk of infection during the pandemic. A 62-year-old believer was taken to Krasnodar for interrogation, and a written recognizance not to leave the place was taken.

In addition to the security forces, representatives of the local Cossacks participated in the searches as witnesses. In the village of Kholmskaya, located about 60 kilometers from Krasnodar, law enforcement officers came to at least the homes of 3 families. In the village of Pavlovskaya, the special services searched at least 5 dwellings.

Update. As it became known, on April 29, searches were carried out in 9 houses. On that day, another family was searched in Kholmskaya. The security forces searched the literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses and asked the owners if they were “adherents of a banned organization.” After the raids, a 43-year-old resident of the village of Pavlovskaya was taken on her own recognizance. A criminal case was initiated against her under Part 1.1. Article 282.2 (involvement in the activities of an organization recognized as extremist). The investigator considered it a crime that the believer had conversations with a young man about “the attractiveness of serving Jehovah.” The interlocutor turned out to be an agent of the special services.

Electronic devices were seized from believers, including those necessary for distance learning for children. The security forces also confiscated Bibles in various translations and books written by religious scholars.

The investigative actions were carried out on the basis of a criminal case initiated by the Directorate of the Federal Security Service of Russia in the Krasnodar Territory in order to identify those who continue to profess the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses. The security forces consider the joint spiritual communion of believers not as a manifestation of religious freedom, but as a continuation of the activities of banned organizations.

These are the first large-scale raids against believers in the Krasnodar Territory in 2020. The relative lull has lasted since October 2019, when 36 searches were carried out in Sochi and the district on the same day. One of the believers, Vyacheslav Popov , has been held in a pre-trial detention center ever since.

The case of Beltikov in Pavlovskaya

Case History
Maksim Beltikov, a labor protection specialist, an exemplary family man, father of three children, was accused of extremism. In April 2020, the believer’s home was searched, and in June, FSB investigator Lieutenant M. Loi opened a criminal case against the man on suspicion of participating in the activities of an extremist organization. The investigation considered that the believer, “aware of the criminal nature and public danger of his actions,” exercised “the role of a preacher.” Maksim was placed on recognizance not to leave. In January 2021, the trial began. During the proceedings, it was revealed that the transcript of Beltikov’s conversation with the main prosecution witness Ilchenko was falsified. In January 2022, the court found Beltikov guilty and sentenced him to 2 years in a general regime colony with restriction of freedom for 1 year. The appellate court upheld the verdict. In August 2023, the court extended the restriction of liberty for another 3 years.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Krasnodar Territory
Locality:
Pavlovskaya
Suspected of:
"participated in religious teaching and sermons, during which ... conducted and listened to lectures based on religious literature, entered into conversations and religious discussions, participated in collective discussions of the content of religious books" (from the decision to initiate a criminal case)
Court case number:
12007030001000072
Initiated:
June 23, 2020
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigating:
Krasnodar Territory Directorate of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-10/2022 (1-49/2021)
Court:
Павловский районный суд Краснодарского края
Judge:
Андрей Мыночка
Case History

Case of Danilov in Kholmskaya

Case History
Oleg Danilov was searched twice, in April and December 2020, because of his faith in Jehovah God. For the first time, the security forces did not find anything forbidden on the believer, but in November 2020, the FSB opened a criminal case against him under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation for participating in “religious teaching and sermons” and “collective discussion of the Bible.” The investigation was conducted by O. I. Komissarov, who also handled the case of Alexander Ivshin. On March 23, 2021, the judge of the Abinsk District Court of the Krasnodar Territory, Olga Khomchenkova, held the first hearing in the case of Danilov, and on March 29, the prosecutor requested a sentence of 3 years in prison for him. This is the punishment the court imposed on the believer. The Krasnodar Regional Court upheld the verdict. Danilov was placed in a colony in the city of Khadyzhensk, and later transferred to a colony in the village of Akhtarsky, where the administration infringes on his rights and unreasonably applies penalties. In June 2022, the court of cassation upheld the verdict.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Krasnodar Territory
Locality:
Kholmskaya
Suspected of:
"participation in the activities of a religious association, in respect of which the court made a final decision on liquidation in connection with the implementation of extremist activities"
Court case number:
12007030001000146
Initiated:
November 12, 2020
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigating:
SO FSB in the Krasnodar Territory
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-85/2021
Court:
Абинский районный суд Краснодарского края
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Ольга Хомченкова
Case History

Case of Skachidub in Pavlovskaya

Case History
In April 2020, the security forces searched and interrogated Vladimir Skachidub and his wife, a disabled person of group II. Two months later, a criminal case was initiated against a believer from the village of Pavlovskaya under two parts of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Vitaly Veter, an investigator of the FSB of Russia for the Krasnodar Territory, considered it a crime that Vladimir Skachidub “played the role of a preacher” while talking with others about the Bible. Since December 2020, the Skachidub case has been considered by Olga Marchenko, judge of the Pavlovsky District Court of the Krasnodar Territory. In October 2021, she sentenced a believer with a disability to 4 years and 2 months in a penal colony. Six months later, the Court of Appeal upheld this decision. Vladimir is serving his sentence in IK-6 in the Ryazan region, 1200 km from home.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Krasnodar Territory
Locality:
Pavlovskaya
Suspected of:
According to investigators, he "participated ... in a religious educational event - a sermon lesson, exercising the role of a preacher ... spread the ideology of the LRO Jehovah's Witnesses"
Court case number:
12007030001000071
Initiated:
June 23, 2020
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigating:
Krasnodar Territory Directorate of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2), 282.2 (1.1)
Court case number:
1-36/2021 (1-170/2020)
Court:
Павловский районный суд Краснодарского края
Judge:
Ольга Марченко
Case History

Case of Shchekoldina in Pavlovskaya

Case History
In April 2020, the FSB opened a criminal case against Lyudmila Shchekoldina from the village of Pavlovskaya. The accusation was based on the report of the agent of the special services Ilchenko that the believer allegedly tried to involve him in the activities of an extremist organization. This is how the investigation regarded his conversations with Shchekoldina on biblical topics. After a 9-hour search of the woman’s house and interrogation, they took a written undertaking not to leave the place. In May 2021, the case went to court. A year later, the court sentenced the believer to 4 years and 1 month in a penal colony. The appellate court upheld the verdict in October 2022. In March 2023, the cassation court did not change this decision. In the colony, Lyudmila’s health deteriorated and she was scheduled for surgery. For six months, the believer endured severe pain, and only in August 2023 did the administration of the colony allow her to receive the necessary treatment.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Krasnodar Territory
Locality:
Pavlovskaya
Suspected of:
According to the investigation, she "committed deliberate actions aimed at involving ... in the activities of an extremist organization ... by describing the attractiveness of serving Jehovah."
Court case number:
12007030001000049
Initiated:
April 23, 2020
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigating:
Krasnodar Territory Directorate of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1.1), 282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-25/2022 (1-103/2021)
Court:
Павловский районный суд Краснодарского края
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Ольга Марченко
Case History

Case of Shcherbina in Kholmskaya

Case History
In the spring of 2020, Aleksandr Shcherbina was subjected to a search and was summoned for interrogation as a witness in a criminal case against his fellow believer Aleksandr Ivshin. Six months later, FSB investigator Komissarov initiated a criminal case for “participation in the activity of an extremist organization” against Shcherbina himself. Law enforcement officers secretly videotaped Bible discussions and considered such conversations to be a continuation of the activity of a banned organization. In December, Aleksandr’s house was searched again. In April 2021, the Abinsk District Court sentenced the believer to 3 years in a penal colony. In June 2021, a court of appeal reduced the sentence to 2 years imprisonment. The believer filed a cassation appeal against the verdict, but the court left it unsatisfied. On February 22, 2023, Shcherbina was released after serving his main sentence.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Krasnodar Territory
Locality:
Kholmskaya
Court case number:
12007030001000147
Initiated:
November 12, 2020
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigating:
FSB Directorate for the Krasnodar Territory
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-84/2021
Court:
Абинский районный суд Краснодарского края
Judge:
Сергей Михин
Case History

The case of Ivshin in Kholmskaya

Case History
In April 2020, the FSB opened a case against Alexander Ivshin, an engineer with two higher educations and a caring grandfather of 8 grandchildren. According to investigators, the believer organized a video link of worship in the neighboring town of Abinsk with the joint singing of biblical songs. For this he was charged under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. At the height of the pandemic, a series of searches were carried out in the homes of believers in the villages of Kholmskaya and Pavlovskaya. After the interrogation, investigator Komissarov took Ivshin on his own recognizance. Against the background of the stress experienced, the 62-year-old believer and his wife had a hypertensive crisis. In August 2020, Ivshin’s car was seized “to ensure the execution of a possible sentence.” By the end of 2020, the case was referred to the Abinsk District Court of the Krasnodar Territory for consideration by Judge Aleksandr Kholoshin, who sentenced the believer to 7.5 years in prison. In the pre-trial detention center, the believer fell ill with covid. On April 15, 2021, the Krasnodar Regional Court upheld the verdict. In June 2021, the believer was transferred to a colony in the city of Rostov-on-Don.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Krasnodar Territory
Locality:
Kholmskaya
Suspected of:
"Organized... the activities of the extremist organization of Jehovah's Witnesses, expressed in the repeated conduct on the territory of the Abinsk district of the Krasnodar Territory ... religious speeches and services, as well as in the study of religious literature ... singing Bible songs together" (from the decision to prosecute)
Court case number:
12007030001000052
Initiated:
April 23, 2020
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigating:
Krasnodar Territory Directorate of the Federal Security Service of Russia
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-26/2021 (1-331/2020)
Court:
Абинский районный суд Краснодарского края
Case History