On the photo (left to right): Vera Zolotova, Snezhana and Konstantin Bazhenov

Unjust Verdicts

The Appeal Did Not Change the Sentence of the Kamchatka Believers. School Teachers and a Pensioner Will Be Conditionally Deprived of Their Liberty for Two Years

Kamchatka Territory

On November 17, 2020, the Kamchatka Regional Court denied the appeal of Konstantin and Snezhana Bazhenov and Vera Zolotova. The verdict of the lower court came into force.

Hunting the Elderly: Security Forces List Older Women in the Ranks of Extremists

Earlier, on September 25, 2020 the judge of the Yelizovo District Court Yulia Piskun sentenced them to two years of suspended imprisonment with a probation period of 3 years and restriction of liberty for 6 months. The court found peaceful citizens guilty of participation in activity of extremist organization (part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Crimina Code).

Criminal prosecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in Yelizovo began in summer 2018. Bazhenov spouses and pensioner Vera Zolotova were accused of holding joint worship meetings and conversations with others about God, which was considered as "organization" of the activities of a banned extremist organization (part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code). Subsequently, when the court passed the sentence, it reclassified the charges as "participation" (part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code).

The religious persecution turned out to be not only an exhausting series of court proceedings, but also serious financial difficulties for the believers. Bazhenovs, school teachers by profession, cannot find jobs in children's institutions. Together with 74-year-old Vera Zolotova, they are included in the "List of terrorists and extremists" of Rosfinmonitoring, which means blocking all bank accounts.

Case of the Bazhenovs and Others in Yelizovo

Case history
In 2018, in Yelizovo, Snezhana and Konstantin Bazhenov, both teachers, as well as widowed pensioner Vera Zolotova, were detained, their houses were searched, and a few days later they had to sign a recognizance agreement. The Investigative Committee equated the holding of joint meetings for worship to illegal activity. In September 2020, the court gave each of them a 2-year suspended sentence. The court of appeal upheld this decision, but the court of cassation returned the case for retrial to the territory court. In January 2022, it acquitted the believers, but the prosecutor’s office achieved that the verdict was overturned in the RF Supreme Court, and the case was returned to the appeal stage, and later the courts of cassation supported the verdict of a 2-year suspended sentence.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Kamchatka Territory
Locality:
Yelizovo
Suspected of:
according to the investigation, together with others he conducted 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:
11802300004000052
Initiated:
August 17, 2018
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigating:
Investigative Department of the city of Yelizovo of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Kamchatka Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-78/2020
Court:
Елизовский районный суд Камчатского края
Judge:
Юлия Пискун
Background