Illustrative photo

Actions of Law Enforcement Officers

A Wave of Searches of Believers in the Kemerovo Region. At Least One Person With Disability Was Detained for 48 Hours

Kemerovo Region

On July 12, 2020, FSB officers conducted searches of Jehovah's Witnesses in Prokopievsk. Andrei Vlasov, 51, who has a disability, was detained for 2 days and is in an isolation ward in Kemerovo. The news is being updated.

A number of believers were taken for interrogation to the FSB department on Komsomolskaya Street in Prokopyevsk. Among them is 69-year-old Viktor Mikhnyuk, who recently suffered a stroke. In the evening he was released.

It is known that on July 2, 2020 the investigation department of the FSB of Russia in the Kemerovo region - Kuzbass initiated a criminal case against believers under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code. Four days later, on 6 July, Judge Irina Ivanova from the Central District Court of Kemerovo, on the request of FSB investigator I. A. Sablin, authorized the searches.

Update. On July 14, 2020, Andrey Vlasov, after two days behind bars, was sentenced to a measure of restraint in the form of house arrest. Two days earlier, a search was conducted in the house where he lives with his wife Natalya, the FSB confiscated electronics and Bibles. A search was also carried out at Andrey’s workplace. Natalya was interrogated in the investigators’ offices. The spouses Yuriy and Elena Chernykh were also questioned; the search in their house took place at the same time as the Vlasovs. Viktor Mikhnyuk’s apartment — while he was being interrogated in the police station building — was broken into and searched without his presence.

Earlier at least three criminal cases had already been initiated against Jehovah's Witnesses in Kemerovo region. The case of Kogut in Berezovskoye and the case of Levchuk and Britvin in Berezovskoye are investigated by the FSB, while the case of Yavushkin and Bondarchuk in Kemerovo is investigated by the Investigative Committee.

It's noteworthy that it's not the first time the FSB has gone to Judge Ivanova for sanctions. Previously, she had issued permits for searches at Berezovskiy and twice extended the period of detention of believers Levchuk and Britvin.

Russian law enforcers refer to Article 9 of the law "On countering extremist activities" and start hundreds of similar criminal cases against civilians who do not harm anyone. In reality, the Supreme Court did not ban the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses, as repeatedly emphasized by Russian authorities, including the Ministry of Justice, the government and President Vladimir Putin.

The Case of Vlasov in Prokopevsk

Case History
In July 2020, a criminal case was initiated against Andrey Vlasov, a disabled Jehovah’s Witness from Prokopyevsk. The FSB accused him of organizing the activity of an extremist organization. Searches were carried out in Vlasov’s home, as well as at his workplace. Despite the fact that he cannot manage without assistance, he was placed in a temporary detention facility, and three days later he was placed under house arrest. In June 2021, the Vlasov case went to court. Although the believer’s health was deteriorating, the court would not let him visit the doctor and repeatedly extended the house arrest. The prosecutor asked for a sentence of 8.5 years in prison for him. In May 2022, the court sentenced Vlasov to 7 years in a penal colony. He was taken into custody in the courtroom and sent to a detention center. There he fell ill, so he was sent to the medical correctional institution No. 16 of Novokuznetsk. In October 2022, the believer was placed in correctional institution No. 3 in Novosibirsk to serve his sentence. Despite the severe condition of Andrey Vlasov, neither the court of appeal nor the court of cassation mitigated this unprecedented verdict.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Kemerovo Region
Locality:
Prokopyevsk
Suspected of:
"Using a technical means that allows for video conferencing ... organized a religious meeting" (from the verdict to Andrei Vlasov)
Court case number:
12007320001000054
Initiated:
July 2, 2020
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigating:
Branch of the Federal Security Service of Russia in the Kemerovo Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-21/2022 (1-246/2021)
Court:
Центральный районный суд г. Прокопьевска Кемеровской области
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Павел Котыхов
Case History

The Case of Yelena Chernykh in Prokopyevsk

Case History
In 2020, as part of the case against Andrey Vlasov, searches were carried out in the homes of Jehovah's Witnesses in Prokopyevsk, among them were the spouses Yuriy and Yelena Chernykh, the parents of a minor son. In May 2023, a criminal case was opened against unidentified persons. Three months later, Yelena was charged with extremism for "performing a joint worship … based on the Holy Scriptures (the Bible)." A written undertaking not to leave the place was taken from the woman. The case went to court in September 2023. Yelena was given a 3-year suspended sentence in April 2024. The appeal upheld this decision.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Kemerovo Region
Locality:
Prokopyevsk
Suspected of:
"carried out joint worship with other adherents, based on the Holy Scriptures (Bible), teaching religion, supporting the main forms of activity in the form of worship"
Court case number:
12302320012000084
Initiated:
May 25, 2023
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigating:
Department of Internal Affairs of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in the city of Prokopyevsk of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in the Kemerovo Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-26/2024 (1-343/2023;)
Court of First Instance:
Центральный районный суд г. Прокопьевска Кемеровской области
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Елена Карамова
Case History