In the photo: Nikolay Aliyev with his wife, Alesya

Unjust Verdicts

In Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Nikolay Aliyev Received 4.5 Years of Suspended Sentence for His Faith in God

Khabarovsk Territory

On June 4, 2021, the judge of the Central District Court of Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Natalya Gurkova, found Nikolay Aliyev, 42, guilty of involvement and participation in the activities of an extremist organization. He received a suspended sentence of 4 years and 6 months with restriction of freedom for 1 year and 2 months.

The verdict has not entered into force and can be appealed. The believer insists on his complete innocence. Although there is not a single victim in the case, the prosecutor requested 6 years in prison and 2 years and 11 months of restriction of liberty for him.

Nikolay Aliyev worked as an electrician at the city's enterprises. In his younger years, due to his peaceful convictions, he had to defend his right to alternative civilian service for several years.

The criminal prosecution caused great stress for Nikolay and his wife Alesya. For several nights they could not sleep. “There was a fear that we were being watched and listened to,” Nikolay recalls. “We were afraid to tell my parents about all these events, as it could negatively affect their poor health.” (His mother has a heart problem)

Addressing the court with his last word, the believer emphasized: “For my relatives, friends and even employees who do not share my views and beliefs, for everyone who knows me and talked to me a little, it is quite obvious that I am not an extremist. ... And this is an axiom for them.”

He continued: “However, it seems that the law enforcement authorities consider everything connected with the name Jehovah to be extremist. Perhaps they think that the name was invented by Jehovah's Witnesses, since they speak of it everywhere. But is this true? As I mentioned earlier, the name Jehovah is written in the Bible itself. It occurs about ten times only in the Synodal Translation, and the translation of the Bible by Archimandrite Macarius has it hundreds of times. In addition, this name is known all over the world and was widely used in the works of world literature. […] Are these writers, as well as people who read the Bible and use the name of God, are they extremists? Of course not. This statement applies to me as well. I am not an extremist. Moreover, I have every right to use the name of God in worshiping him.”

On May 22, 2020, at about 7 a.m., armed riot policemen burst into the door of the Aliyevs' apartment and knocked Nikolay to the floor. The security forces were looking for any information confirming the believers' belonging to Jehovah's Witnesses.

After a 5-hour search, the spouses were taken for interrogation, where emotional pressure was exerted on them. For example, FSB Major Aleksey Ivanov advised Nikolay Aliyev to change his faith to a “more traditional” one. The believer was threatened with arrest for using the 51st article of the Constitution of the Russian Federation. The operative of the CPE K. Rubantsov suggested that Nikolay's wife cooperate with the investigation so that “something didn’t happen to her husband.”

On April 30, 2020, the Investigation Department for the city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Khabarovsk Territory and the Jewish Autonomous Region opened a criminal case. The investigation lasted more than 5 months.

As it turned out later, Nikolay's peaceful conversations with “Vladimir Tyomniy,” who imitated interest in the Bible, were recorded on video in 2018 and later formed the basis of the accusation.

In court, the conclusions of the linguistic expert E. A. Rozhdestvina were read out, who noted that there were no calls for specific actions in the videos for 2018, and the verbal constructions used “did not have the character of direct motivation and did not have a categorical form.”

Although, according to the expert, religious texts contain motives for action (“Your children need you. Tell them about Jehovah”), there are no direct calls in the statements of the participants in the communication. In conclusion, the expert notes: “Through the use of constructions with the meaning of advice, the desirability, possibility, and not the need for a specific action are emphasized.”

The criminal case was transferred to the Central District Court of Komsomolsk-on-Amur on October 7, 2020. The hearings lasted about 8 months.

In court, Nikolay Aliyev said: “I have never encouraged anyone to hatred or overthrow the government, I did not incite anyone against people of another nationality or religion, I said and did only what my God commanded. I want all people to live in wonderful conditions, in peace and unity with each other. Thus, the accusation of extremism is unfounded.”

Nikolay becomes the 105th Jehovah's Witness convicted of his faith in Russia after the decision of the Supreme Court to liquidate 396 religious organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses in 2017. The youngest defendant in the Khabarovsk Territory, Yegor Baranov, is 20 years old.

In 2018, 60 prominent Russian human rights defenders issued a statement saying: “What is happening to them [Jehovah's Witnesses] is, in fact, happening to us. This is a test of the immune forces of the society. The persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses shows the groundlessness of anti-extremist legislation in general. If society does not protect Jehovah's Witnesses, if they are not restored to their rights, this will mean that anyone can be declared an extremist.”

The case of Aliyev in Komsomolsk-on-Amur

Case History
Early in May 2020, a detachment of armed law enforcers burst into Nikolai Aliev’s apartment with a search, knocking the believer to the floor. The Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee for the Khabarovsk Territory and the Jewish Autonomous Region opened a criminal case against him under two parts of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. The investigator suspected the peaceful citizen of organizing the activities of an extremist organization and being involved in it. The basis for the accusation was hidden video recordings of Aliyev’s conversations with a man who portrayed an interest in the Bible. Since October 2020, the case has been under consideration in court. In June 2021, the court found the believer guilty and sentenced him to 4.5 years of suspended imprisonment with restriction of liberty for 1 year and 2 months. The appellate and cassation instances upheld the verdict.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Khabarovsk Territory
Suspected of:
"I spent ... conversations, propagandizing and justifying the activities of a banned religious (extremist) organization, taught its teachings" (from the decision to bring as an accused)
Court case number:
April 30, 2020
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
SO in the city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Khabarovsk Territory and the Jewish Autonomous Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1.1), 282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-86/2021 (1-905/2020)
Центральный районный суд г. Комсомольска-на-Амуре
Наталья Гуркова
Case History