Unjust Verdicts

Kostroma Appeals Court Upholds Dmitriy Terebilov's Sentence — Three Years in a Maximum Security Penal Colony for his Faith in Jehovah God

Kostroma Region

On January 12, 2022, the panel of judges of the Kostroma Regional Court, chaired by Judge Yuliya Shumilova, rejected Dmitriy Terebilov's appeal. The verdict of the Sverdlovsk District Court of Kostroma entered into force.

At the same time, the court decided to send for a new consideration to the Sverdlovsk District Court in a differently constituted bench the question of material evidence (in the verdict, the court did not specify which physical evidence was to be returned and which to be destroyed). The appeal court left the main part of the verdict unchanged—the believer will have to serve a sentence of 3 years in a strict regime colony.

In court, Terebilov emphacized that he considers the sentence to be illegal: “I am using my constitutional right to believe in Jehovah God. And this is not a crime. Therefore, the recognition of me guilty only for my religious beliefs testifies to discrimination and violation of the law." The believer also noted: "I am being persecuted and punished only for being a Christian who professes the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses, which is not prohibited by law."

The strict regime of serving the sentence is due to the fact that Dmitriy Terebilov in the past, before becoming Jehovah's Witness, had a criminal record. While behind bars, he decided to read the Bible for the first time. The knowledge in this book influenced him positively. The changes in the prisoner impressed the administration of the correctional institution so much that they petitioned for his early release. Dmitriy left his former lifestyle and became a Christian, but in September 2021 he was again thrown behind bars—now because of his faith. Dmitriy Terebilov has the right to appeal against the verdict in cassation procedure, as well as in international instances.

In Kostroma, young spouses Sergey and Valeriya Rayman were also prosecuted for their faith, who were sentenced to 3 and 2 years' suspended imprisonment, respectively.

The Court of Appeal in Kostroma upheld the verdict of the believer, despite the clarifications of the Plenum of the Supreme Court of October 28, 2021, which indicated that the divine services of Jehovah's Witnesses, their joint rituals and ceremonies do not in themselves constitute a crime under Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, despite the liquidation of their legal entities.

The Case of Terebilov in Kostroma

Case history
In July 2018, police officers and a squad of OMON officers searched the apartment of Dmitry Terebilov, in his absence. A year later, the Investigative Committee initiated a criminal case against the believer for participating in the activity of an extremist organization. Soon Terebilov’s home was searched again. The believer was placed under a recognizance agreement and was added to the Rosfinmonitoring list. In September 2020, Dmitry’s case went to court, which a year later sentenced him to 3 years in a strict regime colony. The court of appeal, and then the court of cassation, upheld the verdict. Since February 2022, Terebilov has been serving his sentence in Correctional Colony No. 1 in the Kostroma Region. In April 2023, Dmitry became a defendant in a new criminal case due to conversations about the Bible with another prisoner.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Kostroma Region
Suspected of:
According to the investigation he ”distributed ... items of literature, included in the Federal List of Extremist Materials, which contained information intended to excite religious strife, propounded exclusivity, superiority of Jehovah’s Witnesses teachings and inferiority of those citizens who do not confess this teaching … took part in meetings”
Court case number:
June 13, 2019
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
The Central Region Investigation Office of Investigation Department of the Russian Federation Investigation Committee for Kostroma region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-18/2021 (1-375/2020)
Свердловский районный суд г. Костромы
Екатерина Молодова