In the photo: Irina and Anatoly Gezik, Viktor Zimovskiy

Unjust Verdicts

Term in a Penal Colony, Suspended Sentence and Forced Labor—Three Jehovah's Witnesses Were Sentenced in Stavropol for Their Faith

Stavropol Territory

On November 14, 2022, the Georgievsk City Court of the Stavropol Territory found Viktor Zimovskiy and the couple Anatoliy and Irina Gezik guilty of extremism for professing their faith. This decision was made by judge Nina Anashkina.

The court sentenced Viktor Zimovskiy to 6 years and 2 months in a penal colony (he was taken into custody in the courtroom), Anatoliy Gezik received 4 years and 2 months of corrective labor, and Irina Gezik was given a suspended sentence of 4 years and 2 months. The decision of the court has not entered into force and can be appealed. The believers insist on their complete innocence.

The Investigation Department of the Stavropol Territory opened a criminal case against Zimovskiy and the Gezik couple in December 2019. They were accused of organizing and participating in the activity of an extremist organization. According to believers, when searches were carried out in their homes two months earlier, law enforcement officers planted flash drives in them. During the search, Viktor Zimovskiy, who has a disability, felt unwell. Nevertheless, he and 10 other people were taken for interrogation. At that time, there were no arrests.

The investigator arrested Viktor after a second interrogation in January 2020. He spent 2 months in jail. At first, Zimovskiy was in a four-bed cell, along with 10 other prisoners. The inmates had to either sleep in turns or lie right on the cold floor. Due to the poor conditions of detention, Viktor fell ill. “In addition, at that time my wife was pregnant, and I could not be around to take care of her,” he said.

The investigation took 2 years and 2 months and on February 15, 2022, the case was submitted to the Georgievsk City Court of the Stavropol Territory. The trial lasted 9 months.

The courts of the Stavropol Territory are considering 2 more criminal cases against 8 believers, 5 of which are women over 57 years old.

Russian and international human rights activists have repeatedly emphasized that the ongoing persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in the Russian Federation is unjustified. However, the repressions do not slow down: hundreds of innocent believers have already become victims of criminal prosecution.

Case of Zimovskiy and others in Georgievsk

Case history
At the end of 2019, homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses were searched in Georgievsk. The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation accused Viktor Zimovskiy as well as Anatoly and Irina Gezika, a married couple, of organizing and participating in the activity of an extremist organization. The investigator considered reading the Bible and praying together to be a crime. Viktor Zimovskiy is a father of three minor children and was classed as disabled after his heart surgery. Despite this, the court placed him in a detention center for two months. The criminal case was considered in court from February to October 2022. Viktor Zimovskiy was sentenced to six years and two months in a penal colony, Anatoly Gezik was sentenced to four years and two months of forced labor, and Irina Gezik was given a suspended sentence of four years and two months. The appellate court replaced the terms of imprisonment and of forced labor with suspended sentences of the same duration.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Stavropol Territory
Locality:
Georgievsk
Suspected of:
according to the investigation, he "convened and conducted meetings of the organization 'Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia' ... During the meetings, he discussed with its participants religious intolerance towards representatives of other faiths.
Court case number:
11902070005000100
Initiated:
December 30, 2019
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigating:
Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Stavropol Territory
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2), 282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-158/2022
Court of First Instance:
Георгиевский городской суд Ставропольского края
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Нина Анашкина
Background