In the photo: Vladimir Filippov in the courtroom, September 2020

Criminal trial

A Primorye prosecutor requested six-and-a-half year correctional colony sentence for the 77-year-old believer Vladimir Filippov

Primorye Territory

On December 29, 2020, the Nadezhdinsky District Court held a hearing in the criminal case against a former military officer from the village of Razdolnoye. Because of his belief in Jehovah's God, the prosecutor's office charged him with organizing the activities of a banned organization. A date for announcing the verdict has not yet been set.

Update. It became known that Vladimir Filippov is scheduled to deliver his last word on January 27, 2021 at 15:30. The verdict will probably be announced on the same day.

State prosecutor Maria Koval (assistant to the prosecutor) recommended judge Diana Merzlyakova to sentence the 77-year-old pensioner to 6 years 6 months imprisonment in a penal colony. The prosecutor also wants to prohibit him to participate in public organizations for another 2 years and to order him to register every month for 1 year after his release, not to leave home at night, not to attend public events, not to change his place of residence and not to leave the Nadezhdinsky municipal district without the consent of supervisory bodies.

There are no victims in Filippov's case. Filippov himself does not admit his guilt; he claims that he was simply praying and discussing the Gospel. The believer has been under house arrest for over nine months now. Before that, operatives put him under surveillance.

The case against Vladimir Filippov was initiated on July 1, 2019. However, a year earlier, on July 19, 2018, as part of another case in which Filippov was formally a witness, armed law enforcement officers in masks rudely broke into the dwellings of believers in the village of Razdolnoye. One of them punched Vladimir Filippov in the face. A year later his apartment was searched again as part of the case against Filippov, after which his wife, Lubov, suffered a hypertensive crisis and had to call an ambulance. On January 22, 2020, the Nadezhdinskiy District Court sanctioned the third search in the home of peaceful believers. Both cases were investigated by the Investigative Division of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for Primorye Territory.

The criminal case is based on video recordings of worship services from 2017 and audio recordings of conversations about the Bible with a certain B. N. Ulyankin, who portrayed an interest in the Bible. The investigation into the case lasted just under 2 years. On May 19, 2020 it went to court. The hearing lasted another 7 months.

The prosecutor's office accused the peaceful pensioner of "convening meetings, organizing religious speeches and religious services... Distribution of literature with extremist content, implementation of preaching activities" - all this was interpreted as extremism. After viewing the video of the worship service in court, it became clear that Filippov only participated in prayer and chanting, and gave a short biblical speech about showing kindness to people. In his testimony, Vladimir Filippov noted that "praying to God is not a violation of the law. Learning biblical instruction is not a violation of the law. Talking to other people who express a desire to speak on spiritual topics is not a violation of the law."

Vladimir Filippov is a former military man who served for 27 years. His father died at the front shortly before he was born. As a young man Vladimir was a member of the Krasnozersk district hockey team. For the last 25 years he has been studying the Bible in depth.

Russian human rights organizations, as well as the international community, consider the criminal prosecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia unlawful. The Russian government has repeatedly stated that decisions of Russian courts to liquidate and ban Jehovah's Witnesses organizations "do not assess the doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses, nor do they contain a restriction or ban on the individual practice of the aforementioned doctrine.

Case of Filippov in Razdolnoye

Case History
In the small Far Eastern village of Razdolnoye, several pensioners suddenly found themselves in the spotlight of the Investigative Committee because they profess the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In 2017, then 74-year-old Vladimir Filippov, a former career military man, talked about his faith with a certain B.N. Ulyankin, who portrayed an interest in the Bible. Since then, the believer has been put under surveillance, searched three times (including without a court order) and even beaten. Due to stress, Vladimir’s wife suffered attacks of hypertension. In May 2020, the case was referred to the court, and in December the hearings reached the finish line: the state prosecutor recommended that the court sentence the pensioner to 6.5 years in prison. On March 15, 2021, the judge of the Nadezhdinskiy District Court of the Primorsky Territory, Diana Merzlyakova, sentenced the believer to 6 years of suspended imprisonment with a probation period of 4 years and with restriction of liberty for 1 year. The Primorsky Regional Court upheld the verdict.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Primorye Territory
Suspected of:
According to the investigation, he "committed active actions of an organizational nature ... expressed in the convening of meetings, the organization of religious speeches and worship ... distribution of literature with extremist content, implementation of preaching activities"
Court case number:
July 1, 2019
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of Russia for the Primorsky Territory
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-7/2021 (1-130/2020)
Надеждинский районный суд Приморского края
Case History