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Why are peace-loving individuals being framed as criminals? An engineer is being tried for his faith in the city of Krasnoyarsk

Krasnoyarsk Territory

In Krasnoyarsk, District Court has begun consideration of the criminal case against Andrey Stupnikov, a peaceful believer accused of extremism. Who he is and why he is being tried, is described in a 4-minute video.

Viktor Shipilov, Attorney: He is accused of committing a crime stipulated by Article 282.2(1) of the Criminal Code—for organizing the activity of an organization that has been liquidated by a court decision for carrying out so-called extremist activity. Andrey Stupnikov was never one of the founding members of such organizations and was never a member of one of their supervising organs. No one has been banned from having religious beliefs, a fact that was emphasized by the court that ruled to liquidate legal entities [of Jehovah’s Witnesses]. But when we open the bill of charges we read the following: “Andrey Stupnikov took steps to preserve and increase the number of followers of the given religious teaching.” But a religion cannot exist without followers that profess certain beliefs.

Andrey and Olga have been married for 27 years. According to them, it was knowledge of the Bible that made their marriage strong and happy. However, on 3 July 2018 their happy family life was disrupted when Andrey was detained by security forces.

Andrey Stupnikov: My wife and I arrived at the airport at 4:00 in the morning. When we were at the check-in counter, the FSB approached us. We were told that I was under investigation.

After that he was interrogated by the FSB, had court hearings on preventive measures and spent eight months in pre-trial detention. Andrey was not allowed to see his wife. They threatened him, trying to force him into testifying against himself.

Andrey Stupnikov: They shouted and threatened that they could, for example, increase the severity of the charges to terrorism. After this, the situation worsened; for some time I stopped receiving letters from my wife. But I received other letters. Then a man would come and ask me: "So what happened to your wife, do you know?" Later I realised why this was happening. They told me that if I agreed to cooperate or admit my guilt, I could return to my wife very soon.

Andrey acknowledges that the presence of hundreds of fellow believers who came to encourage him was of great support to him. For anyone who discerns what is happening, it is obvious that law enforcement agencies have taken it to the extreme by labelling peaceful law-abiding citizens as extremists.

Viktor Shipilov, attorney: It is clear that Andrey Stupnikov did not carry out any extremist activities. He did not incite anyone to violence or discrimination, and he never employed violent means himself. All he did was meet with fellow-worshippers, participate in religious services, and share his religious views with others. Why are such peaceable individuals being framed as criminals and imprisoned for six years? There are many opinions on that question, one of which is that they are an easy target for law-enforcement officers, who have quotas to meet in their battle with extremism.

At present, Andrey is free. His current preventive measure prohibits certain actions. And although Andrey’s life has changed a lot in the past year, he admits that persecution will not force him to renounce his faith in God.

Andrey Stupnikov: Reflecting on my life since I dedicated myself to God, I wouldn’t change anything. Not one person can say that I’ve ruined their life or done anything bad to them. I’m proud to know Jehovah and to have him by my side.

The judicial proceedings against Andrey Stupnikov are in full swing, and we will likely find out very soon if the judge will render a fair and independent decision—acquitting an ordinary believer.

Case of Stupnikov in Krasnoyarsk

Case History
In July 2018, FSB officers arrested engineer Andrei Stupnikov at the Krasnoyarsk airport. The next day, an investigator opened the first criminal case in the region under an extremist article against him for reading the Bible and praying together with friends. He spent 337 days in a pre-trial detention center, 124 days under house arrest and about 2 years under a ban on certain actions. In February 2020, Andrey Stupnikov’s case went to court, and in June 2021 he was sentenced to 6 years in a general regime colony. The appeal upheld this sentence, and the believer was sent to a penal colony in the Kirov region to serve his sentence. In August 2022, the cassation court upheld the decision of the appellate instance.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Krasnoyarsk Territory
Suspected of:
according to the investigation they participated in religious services, which is interpreted as “organising the activity of an extremist organisation” (with reference to the decision of the Russian Supreme Court on the liquidation of all 396 registered organisations of Jehovah’s Witnesses).
Court case number:
July 3, 2018
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
initially, Investigative Department of the Zheleznodorozhnyy District of the Investigative Committee of the city of Krasnoyarsk, later the case was transferred to the Second Investigation Department of the First Directorate for Investigating Especially Im
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-6/2021 (1-113/2020)
Case History