Nataliya Kriger with her husband outside the courthouse
In Birobidzhan, the Cassation Sent the Case of Nataliya Kriger, Convicted for Her Faith, to a New Appeal HearingJewish Autonomous Area
On August 2, 2022, the 9th General Jurisdiction Court of Cassation overturned the appeal decision in the case of Nataliya Kriger and sent the case for a new trial at the appeal stage. The verdict for faith is considered not to have entered into force.
On July 30, 2021, the Birobidzhan District Court of the Jewish Autonomous Region found Nataliya Kriger guilty of extremism, considering her presence at the services of Jehovah's Witnesses a crime, although this belief is not prohibited in Russia. The court sentenced her to 2.5 years suspended and 1 year of restriction of liberty. The believer appealed the verdict, but on November 25 the Court of the Jewish Autonomous Region approved it. Nataliya considered these decisions illegal and filed a cassation appeal.
“April 19 and May 6, 2018, several families of the Christian religion peacefully gathered together at their homes, read and discussed the Bible, prayed, sang religious songs. This became the basis for criminal prosecution against me. Such persecution was carried out not because I had committed any crime, but because of who I am — a Christian, one Jehovah's Witness,” Nataliya wrote in her appeal.
According to Nataliya Kriger, law enforcement agencies have not established a single fact of her illegal activities. “Even [under surveillance] nothing was recorded to claim that I or any of Jehovah's Witnesses committed or called for illegal acts. Not a single person has been identified who suffered from the activities of believers,” says Nataliya.
Having considered the arguments of the believer, the court overturned the decision of the appellate instance, which recognized the sentence for faith as just. The new appeal hearing will be held in a different composition of judges of the Court of the Jewish Autonomous Region.