Unjust Verdicts

The Court of Appeals Sentenced Anatoliy Gorbunov, a Retiree From Krasnoyarsk, to Serve a Six-Year Sentence in a Penal Colony

Krasnoyarsk Territory

On June 21, 2022, a panel of judges of the Krasnoyarsk Regional Court, chaired by Yuriy Tsybulya, upheld the decision of the lower court regarding Anatoliy Gorbunov, 64. The sentence for faith in Jehovah God — 6 years in a penal colony — came into force.

Hearings in the court of first instance lasted more than a year, all this time the believer was under a recognizance not to leave. After the verdict was announced, he spent more than four months in a pre-trial detention center awaiting an appeal.

There are no victims in the case of Anatoliy Gorbunov. The prosecution only proved that he belonged to the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses, while not presenting a single fact of extremist actions on the part of the defendant. The believer still insists on his innocence and can appeal the verdict on cassation.

In the Krasnoyarsk Territory, 27 of Jehovah's Witnesses have already been prosecuted, including one woman, whose charges were dropped. Five other believers were sentenced to various types of punishment: two to six years in prison, one was fined, and two more received suspended sentences.

Addressing the court, Anatoliy Gorbunov recalled that the Supreme Court did not forbid Jehovah's Witnesses from practicing their faith — this is their right, enshrined in the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

The case of Gorbunov in Krasnoyarsk

Case history
About 2 years after the recordings of worship services of peaceful believers from Krasnoyarsk became available to the investigation, investigator Konstantin Zhuikov opened a criminal case. As a result, Anatoliy Gorbunov was accused of organizing the activities of an extremist organization. His house was searched twice. In January 2021, Gorbunov’s case went to court. For more than 10 sessions, Judge Maria Kunik listened to recordings of the defendant’s conversations about the Bible with an interested person, finding no calls to incite hatred or other crimes in the words of the believer. Despite the fact that the prosecution was never able to provide evidence of the believer’s guilt, in February 2022 the court found Anatoly Gorbunov guilty and sentenced him to 6 years in prison. In June, the appeal upheld this decision. In October 2022, the believer was taken to Penal Colony No. 31 in Krasnoyarsk to serve his sentence.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Krasnoyarsk Territory
Suspected of:
According to the investigation, he "committed actions of an organizational nature ... expressed in the leadership of this organization on the tactics, methods and forms of organization of the activities of "pioneers", "publishers" ... as well as the direct holding of religious meetings."
Court case number:
March 25, 2020
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Main Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Krasnoyarsk Territory and the Republic of Khakassia
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-11/2022 (1-174/2021)
Октябрьский районный суд г. Красноярска
Мария Куник