In the photo: Irina and Anatoly Gezik, Viktor Zimovskiy
Term in a Penal Colony, Suspended Sentence and Forced Labor—Three Jehovah's Witnesses Were Sentenced in Stavropol for Their FaithStavropol 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.