Criminal trial

Svetlana Monis' Criminal Case Based on Practicing Her Faith Is Routed to the Original Jurisdiction for a Second Hearing

Jewish Autonomous Area

On March 9, 2022 a panel of judges of the Court of the Jewish Autonomous Region, chaired by Elena Pyshkina, overturned the conviction of Jehovah's Witness Svetlana Monis. The case is returned to the Birobidzhan District Court for review by a new panel of judges.

In February 2021, Svetlana Monis was convicted and sentenced to a fine of 10 thousand rubles for alleged participation in the activities of an extremist organization. In May 2021, the appeal panel of the same court toughened the sentence, replacing the fine with a suspended sentence. But in December 2021, the Ninth Court of Cassation of General Jurisdiction overturned the decision of the appellate instance. The criminal case for the faith was returned to the appellate stage for review by a new court.

Svetlana's husband, Alam Aliyev, also ended up on the bench on charges of extremism. A total of 23 Jehovah's Witnesses in the region have already been persecuted for their beliefs.

Russian authorities have repeatedly assured that the Jehovah's Witnesses faith is not banned. As the Russian Supreme Court Plenum explained on October 28, 2021, worship by Jehovah's Witnesses does not by itself constitute an "extremist" crime, despite the liquidation of their legal entities.

Case of Monis in Birobidzhan

Case History
In September 2019, a criminal case was initiated against Svetlana Monis, a foreign language teacher. A year earlier, an investigator detained her husband, Alam Aliyev, during a massive FSB special operation in Birobidzhan. Monis, along with other believers, was accused of participating in the activities of an extremist organization. For more than 16 months, the believer was under recognizance not to leave. In February 2021, the court imposed a fine on her. But three months later, the appeal toughened the sentence, imposing a 2.5-year suspended sentence on the believer. In December 2021, the Court of Cassation returned the case to the appellate stage, which, in turn, overturned the verdict and returned the case for a new trial. Its result was a suspended sentence of 2.5 years. In 2023, the third appeal upheld this decision, later the cassation left it unchanged.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Jewish Autonomous Area
Suspected of:
According to the investigation she “took a direct part ... to disseminate the teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses ... by improving the skills of preaching and other religious activities” (from the decree on bringing as an accused)
Court case number:
September 26, 2019
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigative Department of the Directorate of the FSB of Russia for the Jewish Autonomous Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
Биробиджанский районный суд ЕАО
Юлия Цыкина
Case History