Unjust Verdicts

In Khabarovsk Territory, a Court Sentenced Boris Yagovitov to Five Years Suspended Sentence for Believing in Jehovah God And Released After Nine Months in a Pre-Trial Detention Center

Khabarovsk Territory

On October 10, 2022, the Solnechniy District Court of the Khabarovsk Territory sentenced Boris Yagovitov to 5 years suspended sentence. It was only because of his faith that he was found guilty of participating in the activities of an extremist organization and being involved in it. Yagovitov was released from custody in the courtroom. He spent more than 9 months in the pre-trial detention center.

A criminal case against Boris Yagovitov was opened in May 2021. The believer was suspected of a crime under Part 1.1 and Part 2 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. A few weeks later, the Yagovitovs were detained in Komsomolsk-on-Amur and taken for interrogation to the village of Solnechniy. The place of residence of Boris and Nataliya was searched in their absence. In June 2021, the believer was placed under house arrest, and in December of the same year, he was placed in a pre-trial detention center.

The imprisonment of Boris added to the hardships of the Yagovitov family. Boris's wife, Nataliya, said: "Difficulties for me are connected with emotional stress: you need to voluntarily go to a place where it is not entirely comfortable to stay, and at the same time be in a good mood in order to be a source of support for my Boris." In addition, Yagovitov's elderly mother was left for a long time without the necessary care of her son and his wife, as she lives 6700 km from them.

The investigation considered the testimony of Pavel Baleychuk to be the main evidence of Yagovitov's guilt, who, after several conversations with Boris, turned to the FSB and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and agreed to participate in operational-search activities. The case file contains audio recordings of his personal conversations with Yagovitov, as well as divine services attended by the informant.

Consideration of the case in the Solnechniy District Court began in December 2021. Three months later, Judge Pavel Nesterov returned the case to the prosecutor's office to eliminate the violations committed at the preliminary investigation stage. The case returned to court in May 2022, and this time he was appointed to judge Alyona Stolyarova. The prosecutor asked the court to sentence the believer to 5 years in a penal colony, as well as 2 years and 11 months of restriction of freedom, but the judge assigned 50-year-old Boris Yagovitov a suspended sentence with a probationary period of 3 years and restriction of freedom for 1 year and 7 months. The believer insists on his complete innocence. The verdict has not entered into force and can be appealed.

In the Khabarovsk Territory, 25 Jehovah's Witnesses are already being persecuted for their faith. Four of them served their sentences. Most human rights structures in Russia condemn the actions of the authorities.

In October 2021, the Plenum of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation clarified that worship services of Jehovah's Witnesses do not fall under Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Nevertheless, the intensity of criminal prosecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia is not decreasing.

The case of Yagovitov in the village of Solnechnoye

Case history
In June 2021, security forces detained Boris Yagovitov and his wife while walking in a park in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. It turned out that the investigative authorities opened a criminal case against the believer because he is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. His house in the village of Solnechny was searched, after which Yagovitov was interrogated, kept in detention for 2 days, and then placed under house arrest. The key evidence of his guilt is the testimony of the informant Baleichuk, who kept hidden records of meetings for worship and conversations about the Bible. In December 2021, the Yagovitov case went to court. At the first hearing, Judge Pavel Nesterov sent the believer to a pretrial detention center. In February 2022, the case was returned to the prosecutor’s office to remove violations. Four months later, the case was retried. The prosecutor asked that the believer be sentenced to 5 years in a penal colony. In October 2022, the court gave Yagovitov a 5 year suspended sentence with a probationary period of 3 years and restriction of freedom for 1 year and 7 months. The appeal upheld this verdict.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Khabarovsk Territory
Suspected of:
According to the investigation, "deliberate, in compliance with conspiracy measures, the involvement of new members in the composition ... extremist organization, as well as participation in ongoing events - a meeting of its members, which is a rite associated with the religious doctrine of the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses."
Court case number:
May 14, 2021
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Khabarovsk Territory and the Jewish Autonomous Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1.1), 282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-99/2022 (1-98/2022; 1-23/2022; 1-248/2021)
Court of First Instance:
Солнечный районный суд Хабаровского края
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Алёна Столярова