Unjust Verdicts

A Court Sentenced a Former City of Seversk Administration Employee to Two Years and Two Months in Prison for Reading the Bible

Tomsk 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.

Case of Ledyaykin in Seversk

Case history
In July 2020, FSB and Investigative Committee officers, accompanied by two riot policemen, arrived at Andrey Ledyaikin’s place of work, the administration of Seversk, to pick up the believer for a search of his home. After in March 2021, the Investigation Department for ZATO Seversk opened a criminal case against Ledyaykin, he was forced to resign. Three days later, the court chose a measure of restraint for him in the form of a written undertaking not to leave and proper behavior. In June 2021, Ledyaykin’s case was submitted to the Seversky City Court of the Tomsk Region. It was considered by judge Ekaterina Soldatenko. The accusation is based on the testimony of FSB agent Kira Klisheva, who testified against 5 other Jehovah’s Witnesses in Seversk. The prosecutor requested 4.5 years in a general regime colony for the believer. In April 2022, the court sentenced Andrey Ledyaykin to 2 years and 2 months in a penal colony, and on July 14, the Tomsk Regional Court replaced this term with a suspended sentence.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Tomsk Region
Locality:
Seversk
Court case number:
12102690003000021
Initiated:
March 25, 2021
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigating:
Investigation Department for Closed Administrative Territory of Seversk, Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Tomsk Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-11/2022 (1-257/2021)
Court:
Северский городской суд Томской области
Judge:
Екатерина Солдатенко
Background