In the photo: Vladimir Suvorov

Unjust Verdicts

The Court of Appeal in Chelyabinsk Upholds the Conviction of 75-Year-Old Jehovah's Witness Vladimir Suvorov

Chelyabinsk Region

On October 15, 2021, the Chelyabinsk Regional Court upheld the sentence to Vladimir Suvorov - 6 years suspended for organizing "extremist activities". The verdict has entered into force. The believer still insists on his innocence. He has the right to appeal the verdict in cassation, as well as in international instances.

The court of first instance did not satisfy the prosecutor's request to send the believer to jail for 7 years. On July 1, 2021, Oksana Mitina, judge of the Metallurgicheskiy District Court of Chelyabinsk, convicted the 75-year-old Jehovah's Witness and sentenced him to 6 years of suspended imprisonment for talking to people about God, holding worship services, singing hymns and prayers. The judge considered it to be the organization of the activities of a banned community.

Vladimir Suvorov has hypertension and a sick heart. His 73-year-old wife, Valentina, was also prosecuted simply because she is one of Jehovah's Witnesses. The court also found her guilty of extremism and sentenced her to 2 years of suspended imprisonment. All this was a new blow after the couple lost their only son a few years ago.

In July 2020, Vladimir Suvorov was included in the "List of Terrorists and Extremists" of Rosfinmonitoring. This seriously complicated the financial condition of the elderly spouses. In addition, the believer spent about a year under recognizance not to leave.

Vladimir has been one of Jehovah's Witnesses for almost 30 years. Russian courts began to recognize ordinary religious practices as extremist activities and an encroachment on the constitutional order of Russia. Neither the venerable age of the defendants, nor the absence of victims and evidence of guilt in the case stop judges from sentencing believers.

The conflict between law and law enforcement practice in Russia, according to the European Court of Human Rights, occurs due to a number of erroneous stereotypes about Jehovah's Witnesses. The ECHR gave this a legal interpretation.

The case of Suvorov in Chelyabinsk

Case History
Former theater actor Vladimir Suvorov, following his wife, Valentina, faced persecution by the authorities because of his religious views. In January 2020, Aleksandr Chepenko, an investigator for particularly important cases of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee for the Chelyabinsk Region, opened a criminal case against an elderly man. He saw in Vladimir’s actions a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, since he “organized the preaching activity.” Conversations with people about God, holding worship services, singing and praying were regarded by the investigation as the organization of extremist activity, and the presence of literature in electronic form was declared “conspiracy measures”. Since October 2020, the case has been considered by Oksana Mitina, judge of the Metallurgichesky District Court of Chelyabinsk. The prosecutor requested 7 years in prison for the elderly believer. On July 1, 2021, the court sentenced the 75-year-old pensioner to 6 years of suspended imprisonment. In October 2021, the Chelyabinsk Regional Court upheld the suspended sentence handed down to Vladimir Suvorov.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Chelyabinsk Region
Locality:
Chelyabinsk
Suspected of:
According to the investigation, "preaching activities were organized ... for propaganda purposes... and the involvement of citizens in the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses ... In addition, religious meetings have been organized... in the form of a collective religious service, consisting of... performances of songs... and prayers to Jehovah God, study and discuss articles."
Court case number:
12002750030000002
Initiated:
January 16, 2020
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigating:
Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Chelyabinsk Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-36/2021 (1-550/2020)
Court:
Металлургический районный суд г. Челябинска
Judge:
Оксана Митина
Case History