Vadim Gizatulin on the day of sentencing

Unjust Verdicts

Resident of Chelyabinsk Vadim Gizatulin received a suspended sentence for his faith. The court considered discussion of the Bible and prayers to Jehovah God to be extremism

Chelyabinsk Region

On December 7, 2022, the judge of the Metallurgical District Court of the city of Chelyabinsk, Vitaly Sirotin, found Vadim Gizatulin guilty of participating in extremist activity. The court gave an electrician who professes the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses a suspended sentence of 2 years.

The verdict has not entered into force and can be appealed.

Vadim Gizatulin faced persecution for his faith in February 2018. Then the security forces of the Chelyabinsk Region initiated operational-search measures against local believers. A year later, Gizatulin was searched as part of the Vladimir Suvorov case , in which he was a witness. Vadim himself became a defendant in a criminal case in August 2021. After 2 months, they came to the believer for a second search. Since July 2022, Gizatulin has been under a recognizance agreement.

The case was conducted by the third department for the investigation of especially important cases of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Chelyabinsk Region. After almost a year of investigation, the case went to court. The charge was based on the testimony of an informant, Lilia Ruzayeva, who made audio and video recordings of religious meetings on the instructions of D. A. Myzgin, an officer of the Center for Combating Extrimism. The indictment stated: “At every meeting, Gizatulin V.R. gave talks, made comments, answered questions on topics that were discussed and studied.”

Vadim Gizatulin insists on his complete innocence. “The indictment does not contain any statements of an extremist nature by me,” he said at one of the hearings. “I did not call on anyone to fight against the authorities, and I did not make any degrading remarks towards followers of other religions.”

The statements of the believer are also confirmed by the psychological-linguistic forensic examination attached to the case. It gives the following conclusion: “In the conversations recorded in the materials provided, there were no signs of incitement to hostility or hatred (discord) towards a group of persons based on gender, race, nationality, language, origin, religious views or belonging to any social group. Despite all this, the prosecutor asked the court to sentence the believer to 4 years in prison.

Already 12 Jehovah's Witnesses in the Chelyabinsk Region are being prosecuted for their faith. Six of them were given suspended sentences, one believer was fined.

In July 2022, the European Court of Human Rights issued a judgment that rendered groundless the prosecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia on charges of extremism. In particular, it noted that “In the absence of expressions that seek to incite or justify violence or hatred based on religious intolerance, any religious entity or individual believers have the right to proclaim and defend their doctrine as the true and superior one and to engage in religious disputes and criticism seeking to prove the truth of one’s own and the falsity of others’ dogmas or beliefs” (§ 153).

The case of Gizatulin in Chelyabinsk

Case history
Vadim Gizatulin faced persecution for his faith in 2019: his house was searched as part of the Vladimir Suvorov case. Hidden audio and video filming was carried out behind the believers. A certain Ruzayeva, under the guise of a person interested in the Bible, collected information for the Center “E”. In 2021, the Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against Vadim Gizatulin, an electrician from Chelyabinsk. His house was searched again. The investigation considered it illegal actions that he participated in worship services, singing songs and saying prayers. In August 2022, Gizatulin’s case went to court. In December of the same year, the court sentenced the believer to 2 years of probation, and in February 2023, the court of appeal upheld this decision.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Chelyabinsk Region
Locality:
Chelyabinsk
Suspected of:
participated in worship services of Jehovah's Witnesses, sang religious songs and prayed to Jehovah God
Court case number:
12202750030000019
Initiated:
August 31, 2021
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigating:
Third Department for the Investigation of Particularly Important Cases of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Chelyabinsk Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-494/2022
Court of First Instance:
Металлургический районный суд города Челябинска
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Виталий Сиротин
Background