Unjust Verdicts

A Nizhny Novgorod Court Sentenced 55-Year-Old Widow Galina Abrosimova to a Six-Year Suspended Prison Term for Reading the Bible With Friends

Nizhegorod Region

On May 6, 2022, the judge of the Sovetskiy District Court of Nizhny Novgorod, Ivan Karnavskiy, found Galina Abrosimova guilty of organizing the activities of an extremist community and sentenced her to 6 years of suspended imprisonment. The court considered meeting with friends to discuss the Bible as extremism.

“Extremism is alien to me. Why? Because he is alien to both Jehovah God and his son Jesus Christ,” the believer emphasized in her last word. “The criminal case is absolutely illogical for me, given that I did not kill anyone, did not steal anything, and did not commit other crimes.”

Galina Abrosimova worked as a pharmacist and histologist, and now she is on a well-deserved rest. In 2000, the woman lost her husband, and she had to raise two children alone. She suffers from serious chronic diseases.

In June 2019, Oleg Makerov, senior investigator of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia for the Nizhny Novgorod Region, opened a criminal case against unidentified persons. After 1.5 months, the police and FSB searched 35 houses of residents of the Nizhny Novgorod region, including Galina. The believer was placed in a temporary detention center for 2 days, after which a preventive measure was chosen for her in the form of a written undertaking not to leave, under which the believer has been for more than 2.5 years. In September 2021, it was submitted to the Sovetskiy District Court of Nizhny Novgorod.

The accusations were based on the testimony of secret witnesses, one of whom admitted that he did not know what role the defendant played at the services. On behalf of the defense, the son of Galina Abrosimova spoke in court. He said that after she began to study the Bible with Jehovah's Witnesses, she changed and " stopped abusing alcohol, her upbringing began to go softer ... all the conflicts that occurred were resolved without shouting, without swearing." The witness also added: “[She] taught to treat the authorities with respect, taught to obey the current laws that are in the legislation. She also taught to always respect the views of others, because every person in our country has the right to his own opinion.

Despite the absence of victims in the case, the prosecutor asked the court to sentence Galina to 7 years in prison. The verdict has not entered into force and can be appealed. The believer insists on her complete innocence.

In 2021, five Jehovah's Witnesses from the Nizhny Novgorod Region were given suspended sentences of 3 to 6 years in prison. Two more, Maksim Zavrazhnov and Kirill Evstigneyev, are awaiting a court decision.

Nizhny Novgorod security officials have long been putting pressure on local believers. Even before the 2017 Supreme Court decision to ban legal entities of Jehovah's Witnesses came into force, the security services disrupted worship services and planted literature from the list of extremist materials.

The repression of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia is carried out despite repeated assurances from the authorities that the religion is not banned.

Case of Abrosimova and Others in Nizhniy Novgorod

Case history
In July 2019, Nizhny Novgorod security forces came with searches to 35 homes of peaceful believers, and several criminal cases were initiated. One of them is against the widow Galina Abrosimova and two other believers (their case is separated into separate proceedings). As it turned out later, local Jehovah’s Witnesses were under covert video surveillance, their telephone conversations were tapped. Oleg Makerov, an investigator of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation for the Nizhny Novgorod region, accused Galina of organizing the activities of an extremist organization because of her religion. The believer spent 2 days in the temporary detention facility, after which they took a written undertaking not to leave her place. In September 2021, the criminal case went to court. The prosecutor requested that Abrosimova be sentenced to 7 years in prison. In May 2022, the court sentenced her to 6 years probation, and in August of the same year, the appeal upheld this decision.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Nizhegorod Region
Locality:
Nizhniy Novgorod
Suspected of:
According to the investigation they held meetings, collected donations for the needs of the religious organization, improved the skills of missionary activities implementation
Court case number:
11901220089000239
Initiated:
June 4, 2019
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigating:
Internal Affairs Authorities of Investigation Section of the Central Investigation Department of the Directorate General of the Russian Ministry of Home Affairs for Nizhniy Novgorod region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-41/2022 (1-419/2021)
Court:
Советский районный суд г. Нижний Новгород
Judge:
Иван Карнавский
Background