Illustrative photo

Actions of Law Enforcement Officers

"They placed a bag over my head, strangled and beat me." A Voronezh believer tells about being tortured after being detained

Voronezh Region

Aleksandr Korol, 29, who was detained during a mass raid on Jehovah's Witnesses on July 13, was tortured during interrogation, demanding to identify his fellow believers: he was strangled with a plastic bag and beaten. This was revealed after his release from the temporary detention facility where he was held for 48 hours.

The most massive raid against Jehovah's Witnesses in the history of modern Russia was conducted by law enforcement agencies in the Voronezh region on July 13, 2020. Searches were conducted at more than 100 addresses, dozens of civilians were detained and taken to interrogations. 10 people were arrested and thrown into the pre-trial detention center. According to more detailed information, three men were beaten and tortured. One of them is 29-year-old Aleksandr Korol.

After the search in Aleksandr's house, he was taken to the building of the Main Department of the Russian Interior Ministry in Voronezh region on Sredne-Moskovskaya Street. There he was interrogated several times. For the first time the interrogators tried to convince the believer to incriminate himself and threatened to torture him. Aleksandr refused, so one of the officers put a plastic bag over his head and began to tighten it around his neck, blocking the air access and asking who among the believers is the elder. The torture was repeated several times until the bag was torn. Simultaneously, Aleksandr was punched in the face several times. The silovik also threatened to use needles for torture.

The interrogation with the use of force lasted about 15 minutes, after which Aleksandr was taken to another address, where he was interrogated again.

At about 5:30 p.m., handcuffed, he was taken to the Interior Ministry department in Khokholsky district, located about 40 km from Voronezh, and placed in a temporary detention facility for 48 hours.

At 5:00 p.m. on 15 July Aleksandr was released without any explanation or apology. Since Aleksandr had no money, and the police seized the means of communication, he had to ask passers-by to borrow money to get home to Voronezh. At the moment it is unknown whether a criminal case has been initiated against the believer. Aleksandr Korol is preparing to appeal against the illegal actions of law enforcers.

Case of Sokolov and Others in Voronezh

Case History
In one day, July 13, 2020, 110 searches were carried out in 7 settlements of the Voronezh Region — a record-breaking operation against Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. Five believers reported torture by the security forces. Ten men aged 24 to 56 years were charged by the Investigative Committee with organizing extremist activities and sent them to prison, where most of them were held for almost 5 months. The events in Voronezh caused a wide public outcry: the EU countries, as well as the United Kingdom and the United States, expressed regret and bewilderment in connection with the incident. The believers themselves do not admit guilt in extremism and emphasize that, as Christians, they respect the authorities and peacefully practice their religion in accordance with constitutional law. Consideration of the case in court began in December 2021. Believers face up to 10 years in prison.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Voronezh Region
Voronezh (city)
Suspected of:
«... acting by a group of persons by prior conspiracy ... made a criminal decision to commit deliberate actions of an organizational nature aimed at resuming and continuing the activities of the local religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses "Central, Voronezh"" (from the indictment)
Court case number:
July 3, 2020
Current case stage:
trial in court of first instance
1st Department for Investigation of Particularly Important Cases of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in the Voronezh Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-14/2023 (1-160/2022; 1-684/2021)
Левобережный районный суд г. Воронежа
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Евгения Ласкавая
Case History