In the photo: Oleg and Agnessa Postnikov

Criminal trial

An Appeal in Birobidzhan Overturned the Verdict for the Faith of the Postnikov Spouses and Returned Their Case for a New Trial

Jewish Autonomous Area

On October 11, 2022, a panel of judges of the Birobidzhan Regional Court of Jewish Autononous Region overturned the conviction of Oleg Postnikov and his wife Agnessa and sent the criminal case for a new trial to the court of first instance. Believers will once again have to defend their right to freedom of religion in court.

The couple faced reprisals for their faith in May 2018, when their house was searched as part of the “Judgment Day” special operation. The prosecution against the Postnikovs was based on the testimony of police officer Yuliya Zvereva and another woman who feigned an interest in Bible study. A hidden video camera was installed in her house to record conversations with believers.

Judge of the Birobidzhan District Court Marina Tsimarno sentenced Oleg and Agnessa to 5.5 and 5 years of suspended imprisonment respectively in April 2022. The prosecutor requested 5.5 years in a colony for Oleg, and 5 years in a colony for Agnes. It is not yet known why the Court of Appeal overturned the verdict.

The Jewish Autonomous Region is the region with the largest number of criminal cases against Jehovah's Witnesses. There were 19 cases against peaceful believers. Convictions for 14 of them have already entered into force.

Case of the Postnikovs in Birobidzhan

Case history
In May 2018, a special operation of the FSB with the participation of 150 security officials, codenamed “Judgement Day”, took place in Birobidzhan. As a result, at least 20 of Jehovah’s Witnesses became victims of criminal prosecution. Among them were Oleg and Agnessa Postnikov. The FSB accused the spouses of involvement in an extremist organization and participation in its activities. They signed a recognizance not to leave. The case went to court in July 2021. The charges against the believers were based on the testimony of police officer Zvereva and another resident of Birobidzhan, who pretended to be interested in the Bible. In April 2022, the court found the Postnikovs guilty and sentenced Oleg and Agnessa to 5.5 and 5 years of suspended sentence, respectively. The appeal overturned this decision and in October 2022 returned the case for a new trial, which resulted in a sentence of 5.5 and 4.5 years of suspended sentence. The second appeal upheld the verdict. In February 2024, another search took place at the Postnikovs’ home, but as part of a new raid by security forces on the homes of believers.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Jewish Autonomous Area
Locality:
Birobidzhan
Suspected of:
According to the investigation, he "took an active part in conducting religious events for the study and dissemination of ... ideology"
Court case number:
12007990001000009
Initiated:
February 12, 2020
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigating:
UFSB of Russia in the Jewish Autonomous Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2), 282.2 (1.1)
Court case number:
1-39/2023 (1-718/2022)
Court:
Биробиджанский районный суд ЕАО
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Ольга Ключикова
Background