Actions of Law Enforcement Officers

In Surgut, Jehovah's Witnesses Have Been Searched Again, Including Those Who Were Tortured by Security Forces

Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area

Early in the morning of July 7, 2022, searches were carried out in Surgut in at least 5 dwellings of believers. The security forces again came to the apartments of Kirill Severinchk and Yevgeniy Kayryak, who were tortured by the security forces in 2019.

The new raid was carried out by the officers of the 4th investigative department of the Main Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of Russia with the participation of agents of the local Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Federal Security Service for the Tyumen region and the OMON of the Department of the Russian Guard for the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area. According to eyewitnesses, law enforcement officers behaved respectfully towards the believers. The security forces seized Bibles, personal photographs, electronic devices, storage media, bank cards, and a board game.

One of those to whom law enforcement officers came was the family of Kirill Severinchik, 24. After the search, the young man was taken to the department for interrogation, after which he was released. During mass raids in February 2019, Kirill and his father, Artur Severinchik, along with other believers, were severely beaten by security forces, forcing them to incriminate themselves. Kirill was not detained then, but his father was sent to a pre-trial detention center, where he was kept for almost a month. Now the believer is on trial for extremism and is under house arrest.

In order to conduct a similar search, law enforcement officers came to the apartment of Yevgeniy Kayryak, who was also tortured in the winter of 2019. At the moment he is under house arrest, being a defendant in the same criminal case as Artur Severinchik.

It is noteworthy that the previous searches of Kayryak and another believer in the same year were declared illegal. After meeting with relatives of the victims, Mikhail Fedotov, head of the Russian Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights, said:: “Torture is absolutely unacceptable, and allegations of torture must be verified as fully and comprehensively as possible. We cannot allow such evil to exist in our land.”

“None of the security forces who grossly violated the law have yet been punished. Impunity leads to the fact that unjustified criminal prosecution of Jehovah's Witnesses for their faith continues not only in Surgut, but throughout Russia,” Yaroslav Sivulskiy, a representative of the European Association of Jehovah's Witnesses, commented on the situation.

Currently, 5 criminal cases have been initiated in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area against 23 civilians in the region, 19 of whom live in Surgut.

Case of Loginov and Others in Surgut

Case history
In February 2019, the Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against 18 men and 1 woman from Surgut (among them was a man mistaken for a Jehovah’s Witness). Their homes were searched. During the interrogations, 7 believers were subjected to violence. Artur Severinchik was sent to a pre-trial detention center for 29 days, and Yevgeny Fedin and Sergey Loginov - for 56. Timofey Zhukov was illegally placed in a psychiatric hospital for 14 days. Believers complained about the use of torture to the Investigative Committee, the ECHR and the Commissioner for Human Rights, a press conference was held with the participation of human rights defenders, but none of the security forces was ever brought to justice. In October 2021, the case materials were submitted to the court. The prosecutor requested imprisonment for the defendants for a term of 3 years and 3 months to 8.5 years in prison, and for Loginov - 9.5 years, which was the most severe request for punishment for believing in Jehovah God in modern Russia.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area
Locality:
Surgut
Suspected of:
delivering speeches, engaging in the Witnesses' public preaching activity with local members, meeting with Bible education volunteers and appointed congregation assistants, and having as one objective the organizing of appointed men in the Vzlyotnove Congregation
Court case number:
42002007709000023
Initiated:
February 11, 2019
Current case stage:
Appeal
Investigating:
Investigative Department of the city of Surgut of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Khanty-Mansi Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1), 282.3 (1), 282.2 (2)
Court case number:
№ 1-27/2023 (1-130/2022; 1-1348/2021)
Court:
Сургутский городской суд
Judge:
Дмитрий Люпин
Background