Pictured: Dennis Christensen

Inside Penal Colonies and Detention Centers

Kursk regional court to rule on September 4 whether Dennis Christensen can be set free in exchange for a large fine

Oryol Region,   Kursk Region

On September 4, 2020 at 16:00, the Kursk Regional Court will consider the prosecutor's appeal against the decision of of the Lgov District Court to replace Dennis Christensen with a fine of 400,000 rubles. The case will be considered by the judge Vladimir Olovnikov.

The appealed decision was issued by the Lgov District Court on 23 June 2020. Since Christensen had served significantly more than half of his 6-year sentence, the court, with the support of the prosecutor, decided that his sentence could be commuted. However, two days later, the Kursk prosecutor's office suddenly changed its mind. Prosecutor Shatunov sent an appeal to a higher court, in which he demanded that the decision to commute the sentence be overturned, allegedly "due to the lack of positive activity in labor and public life in the correctional facility. Following this, the believer was subjected to several punishments at once and was sent twice to the punishment cell.

It is noteworthy that during the hearing on June 23 the defense presented to the court expert conclusions confirming the presence of Christensen's diseases that exclude labor at the works in the colony and participation in other types of work. The representative of the colony admitted that they could not provide a believer with a type of work that would not be contraindicated to him for medical reasons. The court attached the documents to the case and, apparently, relied on them to make its decision.

Case of Christensen in Oryol

Case history
Dennis Christensen is the first Jehovah’s Witness in modern Russia to be imprisoned only because of his faith. He was arrested in May 2017. The FSB accused the believer of organizing the activities of a banned organization on the basis of the testimony of a secret witness, theologian Oleg Kurdyumov from a local university, who kept covert audio and video recordings of conversations with Christensen about faith. There are no extremist statements or victims in the case. In 2019, the court sentenced Christensen to 6 years in prison. The believer was serving time in the Lgov colony. He repeatedly asked for the replacement of part of the unserved term with a fine. For the first time, the court granted the request, but the prosecutor’s office appealed this decision, and the prison administration threw the believer into a punishment cell on trumped-up charges. Christensen developed illnesses that prevented him from working in prison. On May 24, 2022, the believer was released after serving his sentence and was immediately deported to his homeland, Denmark.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Oryol Region
Suspected of:
according to the investigation, together with the others he conducted religious services, which is interpreted as “organising the activity of an extremist organisation” (with reference to the court’s decision on the liquidation of the local organisation of Jehovah’s Witnesses)
Court case number:
May 23, 2017
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
UFSB of Russia in the Oryol region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
[i18n] Рассмотрено судом первой инстанции:
Железнодорожный районный суд г. Орла
Алексей Николаевич Руднев
[i18n] Суд апелляционной инстанции:
Орловский областной суд
[i18n] Суд апелляционной инстанции:
Льговский райсуд Курской области