Illustrative photo

Actions of Law Enforcement Officers

The Center for Counteracting Extremism, the FSB and the Investigative Committee conducted a joint raid on believers near Yekaterinburg

Sverdlovsk Region

In the early morning of October 19, 2020, at least 5 searches of the residences of local Jehovah's Witnesses took place in the town of Beryozovsky near Ekaterinburg. The 38-year-old Konstantin Zotov was detained, but after 3 hours of interrogation was released. Details are being clarified.

One of the searches was led by A. Babeshko, an employee of the Investigative Committee of the RF. He was accompanied by FSB officer R. Gainullin, Center for Counteracting Extremism officer V. Bauer and the expert of the Central Committee of the Interior Ministry's Main Directorate T. Chistyakova, who was taking photos and videos. The search warrant was issued by the Berezovsky Town Court of Sverdlovsk Region.

Update.

Investigative actions against believers were initiated by the head of the department of the FSB of Russia for the Central Military District of Yekaterinburg, Colonel Andrei Kalashnikov. On October 14, 2020, Alexey Zyryanov, head of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Sverdlovsk Region, opened a criminal case against Konstantin Zotov and Natalia Kochneva, who live in Berezovsky and are not related to the liquidated LRO Jehovah's Witnesses of Yekaterinburg. The investigation interprets conversations about the Bible among friends as "participation in the activities of an extremist organization" (part 2 of article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation).

More than 10 believers living at 5 addresses became innocent victims of the raid. The searches lasted 3-5 hours. Bibles of various translations, bank cards, electronic devices and other media, personal records, photographs and postcards, SIM cards, cash receipts, a city map and watches were seized from civilians.

Natalia Kochneva's house was searched by the deputy head of the investigation department, Lieutenant Colonel Mikhail Snigirev, with the participation of the detective of the CPE of the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the Sverdlovsk Region, Police Major Vladimir Yarochevsky, senior FSB detective, Major Alexei Filatov and chief expert of the forensic center Marina Egorova.

The case of Zotov and others in Berezovsky

Case history
In October 2020, the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Sverdlovsk Region opened a criminal case against Konstantin Zotov and Natalia Kochneva from the city of Berezovsky. Shortly thereafter, a series of searches took place in the homes of 10 believers. In September 2021, the investigation brought in 5 more believers as defendants - Kristina Gruzdeva, Valentina Kugukov, Alexandra Zakharova and the Fokin spouses, Stanislav and Marina. In October, another criminal case was opened against Zotov. In March 2022, a new version of the charge was brought against Konstantin — the believer is being persecuted under several articles of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation at once.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Sverdlovsk Region
Locality:
Biaroza
Suspected of:
According to the investigation, "together with other members of the local religious cell, he read prayers to Jehovah God, sang religious songs, studied banned religious literature, watched and participated in demonstration role-playing games."
Court case number:
12002650056000059
Initiated:
October 14, 2020
Current case stage:
Preliminary investigation
Investigating:
Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Sverdlovsk Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2), 282.3 (1), 282.2 (1.1), 282.2 (1), 33 (3)
Background