Actions of Law Enforcement Officers

As Part of a New Criminal Case Investigation in Kostroma, Four Women Were Searched, the Oldest of Whom Is 72 Years Old

Kostroma Region

On March 15, 2022, in Kostroma, employees of the Investigative Committee conducted searches in the homes of four women, three of whom are of retirement age. A month earlier, a criminal case on extremism was initiated.

Law enforcement officers searched the apartments of 68- and 72-year-old believers (the latter’s garage was also searched). At the same time, the security forces behaved politely, in one case they apologized for the inconvenience before leaving. The women’s electronic devices were seized as well as the Bible, religious literature and personal notes.

Two other women, aged 31 and 63, who were also searched, are not Jehovah's Witnesses.

The searches were authorized by Marina Zaikina, a judge of the Dimitrovskiy District Court of the city of Kostroma. Aleksandr Sizov, an investigator for especially important cases of the Factory Interdistrict Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, petitioned for the searches. On February 17, he initiated a criminal case under Part 2 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. According to him, “an unidentified person at an unspecified time […] took an active part in the activities of a religious organization by systematically attending religious meetings ... studying and discussing articles of religious texts.”

Followers of the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses are erroneously charged with crimes under Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Often, even random persons mistaken for Jehovah's Witnesses by mistake become victims of searches and detentions.

This is the third criminal case in the Kostroma region. Dmitriy Terebilov is serving a three-year term in a strict regime colony for his faith. Spouses Sergey and Valeriya Rayman received suspended sentences.

The case of Samus in Kostroma

Case history
In March 2022, searches were carried out in Kostroma against four women, the eldest of whom, Valentina Samus, was 72 years old at that time. The Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against her under the article on participation in the activities of an extremist organization. In December of the same year, she was charged with organizing this activity. The reason was the hidden records of worship and conversations about the Bible, which is not prohibited by law. In March 2023, the case went to court. The prosecutor requested seven years in prison for the elderly woman. In December, the court handed down a sentence: six years suspended. In February 2024, the appeal upheld this decision.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Kostroma Region
Locality:
Kostroma
Suspected of:
"organized and took part in a religious meeting - a collective worship service remotely via video conferencing, consisting of sequential actions: reading prayers to Jehovah God and singing songs from special texts of the religious teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses, watching videos on religious topics, quoting articles from the religious literature of Jehovah's Witnesses, reading what was read, practicing ministry skills" (from the decision on involvement in as an accused)
Court case number:
12202340010000010
Initiated:
February 17, 2022
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigating:
Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Kostroma Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-51/2023
Court of First Instance:
Димитровский районный суд г. Костромы
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Мария Заикина
Background