An Appeal in Vladivostok Upheld the Conviction of Galina Kobeleva. The 66-year-old Believer Was Given a 6-Year Suspended SentencePrimorye Territory
On December 21, 2022, the Primorye Territory Court partially granted the appeal of Galina Kobeleva, freeing her from paying court costs. The verdict—6-year suspended sentence—entered into force, but can be appealed to the court of cassation.
Two months earlier, the Lesozavodsky District Court found Kobeleva guilty of organizing the activity of an extremist organization. “The court unreasonably considered it a crime that I peacefully practised the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses together with other persons,” the believer explained in her appeal.
Galina insists on her complete innocence. At the appeal hearing, she stated: “In my statements in the court of first instance, I repeatedly mentioned that the prosecution confuses the exercise of my rights as a believer with the activity of a local religious organization. In fact, I was condemned because I am a Jehovah's Witness, that I go to people and talk about the importance of knowing both the actual name of God and who is behind it”.
The European Court has condemned the persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia. In the decision it was reiterated that “in order to fulfill their duty to protect the right to freedom of religion in democratic societies in which several religions coexist within the same population, States have an obligation, in a neutral and impartial manner, to ensure the practice of different religions, beliefs and convictions” (§185).