Unjust Verdicts

A Tomsk Court of Appeals Upheld Yevgeniy Korotun's Sentence — Seven Years in Prison for Believing in Jehovah God

Tomsk Region

On May 16, 2022, a panel of judges of the Tomsk Regional Court chaired by Yuriy Krivoshein upheld the sentence of 52-year-old Jehovah's Witness Yevgeniy Korotun. By leaving the believer behind bars, the authorities deprived him of the opportunity to raise his minor son.

The verdict has entered into force. Taking into account the time spent in the pre-trial detention center, Korotun will have to serve another 4.5 years in a general regime colony. The believer considers himself innocent and can appeal the verdict in cassation.

Jehovah's Witnesses have been persecuted in the Tomsk region since 2017. Four believers were sent to penal colonies for terms ranging from two to seven years just because they did not renounce their peaceful Christian beliefs. Two defend their good name in court, and 80-year-old Yelena Savelyeva, an honorary teacher, was sentenced to four years of suspended sentence.

Experts condemn the persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia. “The extremist status of the ‘Witnesses’ has deprived Russian society of the possibility of ‘self-adjusting the religious space’, when denominations can themselves agree among themselves on the rules of public behavior, and the state should only act as an arbiter in these relations,” believes religious scholar Mikhail Zherebyatyev.

Korotun case in Seversk

Case history
In July 2020, in Seversk, officers of the Investigative Committee and the FSB raided Yevgeniy Korotun’s apartment. During a long search, Yevgeniy’s wife and their nine-year-old son were kept in the stairway. A day earlier, a criminal case was initiated against the believer. Yevgeniy spent two days in a temporary detention center and 54 days under house arrest, after which he was sent to a pre-trial detention center. He was accused of organizing the activities of an extremist organization because he held peaceful worship services. The basis for the accusation was hidden audio and video recordings made by Kira Klisheva and Yelena Studenova, an officer of the Russian National Guard. Both women feigned an interest in the Bible. At the end of March 2021, the case went to the city court. In January 2022, the court sentenced the believer to seven years in prison. The appellate and cassation courts upheld this decision. The believer is serving his sentence in a penal colony in Nizhny Tagil.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Tomsk Region
Locality:
Seversk
Court case number:
12002690003000070
Initiated:
July 13, 2020
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigating:
Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Tomsk Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-5/2022 (1-183/2021)
Court:
Северский городской суд Томской области
Judge:
Светлана Чеботарёва
Background