Illustrative photo

Actions of Law Enforcement Officers

At the Height of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Law Enforcers Launched Raids in the Moscow Region. A 33-year-old Believer Has Been Detained for the Second Day

Moscow Region

In the morning of 2 June 2020, at least five houses of local believers were searched in the village of Vlasikha near Moscow. Two women and one man were taken away for interrogation by the security services. Sergey Oganyan, the father of a minor child, was detained.

At 6:20 a.m., about 10 law enforcement officers broke into the apartment of Sergey Oganyan, who lives with his wife and minor daughter. The law enforcers issued a decree to initiate a criminal case against Sergey on charges of organizing and participating in the activities of an extremist organization, after which they began a search. It was supervised by investigators of the Main Investigation Directorate of the Investigative Committee of Russia in the Moscow Region Yevgeny Dymchenko and Denis Popov.

The spouses reminded the investigators that a raid in the conditions of a pandemic could pose a special threat to health. Law enforcers ignored the warning, despite the fact that, according to the Ministry of Health of the Moscow region on June 3, Odintsovo district, where the Oganyan family lives, is one of the leaders in the number of detected cases of coronavirus in the Moscow region.

Mobile phones, other electronic devices, bank cards, personal records and greeting cards were seized from Oganyan. Sergey was taken to the Mytishchinskoye branch of the Russian Interior Ministry's department and previously detained for 48 hours.

On the same day two women believers were searched in Vlasikha. They were taken for interrogation to a branch of one of the law enforcement agencies and released a few hours after the events began. Details are being clarified.

Update. According to the updated information, Sergey Ohanyan’s administrative detention has been extended to 72 hours. Searches were conducted in the homes of five families of believers. Security forces seized computer equipment and other electronic devices, personal records and photo albums, as well as Bibles and Bible atlases. Believers, including the minor daughter of one of the women, were asked provocative questions during the searches about their faith in God. After the searches, five people, including one minor, were taken as witnesses for questioning to the Main Directorate of the Investigative Committee for the Moscow Region, located in the center of Moscow.

This is the second wave of persecution of believers in the Moscow region after the liquidation and prohibition of all religious organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia in 2017. In September 2019, a criminal case for the faith was initiated against six Chekhov residents. Notably, in 2016 and 2017, local courts acquitted two residents of Moscow Region who were accused of a similar "crime" - religious gatherings and conversations about the Bible with others

Case of Ohanyan in Vlasikha

Case History
In June 2020, searches were carried out in 5 homes of local Jehovah’s Witnesses in the village of Vlasikha. One of the believers, artist and writer Sergey Ohanyan, was detained. In May, investigator Yevgeny Dymchenko opened a criminal case against the believer under 3 articles of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation: organization of the activities of an extremist organization, involvement of other persons in this activity and participation in it. Sergey spent 3 days behind bars, after which he was placed under house arrest, and 10 months later - on his own recognizance. In addition, Sergey had to undergo a psychiatric examination, during which he was pressured to be involuntarily hospitalized for refusing to answer questions about his attitude towards representatives of other religions. In October 2021, the investigation excluded Part 1.1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation from the charges.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Moscow Region
Court case number:
May 28, 2020
Current case stage:
Case dismissed
Main Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of Russia in the Moscow Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2), 282.2 (1)
Case History