Andrey and Olga Stupnikov

Unjust Verdicts

The Appeal in Krasnoyarsk Upheld the Sentence to Andrey Stupnikov — the Believer Was Sent to a Colony for Six Years

Krasnoyarsk Territory

On September 7, 2021, the Krasnoyarsk Regional Court upheld the verdict of the first instance. Andrey Stupnikov, a 47-year-old engineer from Krasnoyarsk, will have to spend 6 years in a colony for his faith in Jehovah. Although the verdict has entered into force, the believer has the right to appeal against it in cassation and in international instances.

Considering that during the investigation of the criminal case, Andrey Stupnikov spent 337 days in a pre-trial detention center and 124 days under house arrest, he actually has 4.5 years left to serve.

“If I seriously think about the time that I have lived, devoting my life to God, I would not change anything. There is no such person who could say that I ruined his life or did something bad for him,” said Andrey Stupnikov, emphasizing that he had nothing to do with criminal activity.

Stupnikov went through a lot in the past. During the hostilities in Chechnya in the 1990s, he was captured by the militants, saw the death of civilians. Faced with cruelty, Andrey began to wonder why people are fighting. The answer in the Bible was shown to him by Jehovah's Witnesses, who do not consider violence to be acceptable. Andrey Stupnikov also became one of Jehovah's Witnesses. As is customary among believers in hundreds of countries where Witnesses are allowed to work, he talked with others about the Bible, gathered for peaceful religious meetings with fellow believers, prayed and sang hymns with them. These actions formed the basis of the prosecution, which considered them a "serious crime."

In 2018, Stupnikov was arrested at the Krasnoyarsk airport and placed in a pre-trial detention center. While in prison, the believer did not receive letters from his wife for some time, although other letters continued to come. As it turned out, the delay in the correspondence was a way of putting pressure on Andrey: “The law enforcers shouted and threatened that they could strengthen the charges against me, including terrorism. They began to remind me that I can go to my wife as soon as possible if I agree to incriminate myself and others. "

In June 2021, the Zheleznodorozhniy District Court found Stupnikov guilty of organizing the activities of a banned organization and granted the prosecutor's request, sentencing him to 6 years in prison in a general regime colony. Immediately after the verdict, Andrey Stupnikov was again taken into custody.

“Andrey Stupnikov did not carry out any extremist actions. He did not call for violence or discrimination, much less use violence. Why artificially make criminals out of such peaceful people, and then imprison them for 6 years? There are many opinions, and one of them is that they are convenient prey for law enforcement officers, and those, as you know, need statistics on combating extremism, ”said the believer's lawyer. It is noteworthy that even some of the prosecution witnesses, during interrogations, spoke of Jehovah's Witnesses as decent citizens.

In addition to Stupnikov, 16 more civilians in the Krasnoyarsk Territory are subject to criminal prosecution. Among them is Dmitriy Maslov, who was fined 450,000 rubles in June 2021 for believing in Jehovah God. The court found him guilty of organizing extremist activities only because he gathered friends on a mountain hike.

Case of Stupnikov in Krasnoyarsk

Case History
In July 2018, FSB officers arrested engineer Andrei Stupnikov at the Krasnoyarsk airport. The next day, an investigator opened the first criminal case in the region under an extremist article against him for reading the Bible and praying together with friends. He spent 337 days in a pre-trial detention center, 124 days under house arrest and about 2 years under a ban on certain actions. In February 2020, Andrey Stupnikov’s case went to court, and in June 2021 he was sentenced to 6 years in a general regime colony. The appeal upheld this sentence, and the believer was sent to a penal colony in the Kirov region to serve his sentence. In August 2022, the cassation court upheld the decision of the appellate instance.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Krasnoyarsk Territory
Suspected of:
according to the investigation they participated in 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:
July 3, 2018
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
initially, Investigative Department of the Zheleznodorozhnyy District of the Investigative Committee of the city of Krasnoyarsk, later the case was transferred to the Second Investigation Department of the First Directorate for Investigating Especially Im
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-6/2021 (1-113/2020)
Case History