A Court Sentenced a Former City of Seversk Administration Employee to Two Years and Two Months in Prison for Reading the BibleTomsk Region
On April 26, 2022, the judge of the Seversk City Court of the Tomsk Region, Yekaterina Soldatenko, sentenced Andrey Ledyaykin to 2 years and 2 months in a penal colony. The court considered the participation of a believer in peaceful religious meeting as extremism. He is taken into custody in the courtroom.
Andrey Ledyaykin worked as an accountant in the administration of Seversk for 10 years. In July 2020, Ledyaykin was detained at his workplace. After that, the security forces, in the presence of Andrey's parents, searched his house and garage. The FSB officials exerted emotional pressure on Andrey, forcing him to incriminate himself.
In March 2021, a criminal case was initiated against the believer. Soon his boss received a call from the antiterrorist security department of Tomsk, after which the believer was fired. “I had a job that I loved it very much,” said the believer. — I valued and respected my colleagues. And it's simply impossible to express my feelings when the management of the administration asked me to resign because of a criminal case. I lost my regular income. I had to register with the Employment Center and work odd jobs. In addition, Rosfinmonitoring added me to the list of persons involved in extremist activities, restricting access to my bank accounts and cards.”
The Investigation Department for ZATO in Seversk investigated the case of Ledyaykin for three months. The accusation against the believer was based on the videos of the FSB agent Kira Klisheva, made during peaceful worship. The believer spent more than a year under house arrest.
Ledyaykin's defense emphasizes that in this case, as in other cases initiated in fact for confessing the faith of Jehovah's Witnesses, there are no victims, there is no evidence of harm to the state and society. The prosecutor asked the court to sentence Andrey Ledyaykin to 4.5 years in prison, but the court imposed a sentence of 2 years, 2 months in prison with serving the sentence in a general regime colony with deprivation of the right to engage in activities related to the placement of appeals and other materials in information and telecommunication networks, including the Internet, for a period of 5 years, with restriction of freedom for 1 year.
Andrey Ledyaykin has firmly denied the guilt of extremism and may appeal the verdict. In his last word, he noted: "Contrary to the assertion of the prosecution that I have a deliberate criminal intent, I still do not realize, despite all the unfounded accusations, what a danger to the constitutional order is posed by joint prayers, reading the Bible, chanting and discussing biblical texts."
In the Tomsk region, six Jehovah's Witnesses, including an 80-year-old woman, have already been convicted for their faith. The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation in its decisions has repeatedly pointed out that the practice of the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses on the territory of Russia is not prohibited by law, they are not deprived of the opportunity to practice religious services on their own.