From left to right, top to bottom: Vladimir Popov, Aleksey Goreliy, Evgeniy Razumov, Oleg Shidlovskiy, Nikita Moiseyev, Aleksey Dyadkin
The Court of Appeal Upheld the Sentence of Six Jehovah's Witnesses From Gukovo. They Will Spend 6.5 to 7 Years in a Penal ColonyRostov Region
On January 19, 2023, a panel of judges of the Rostov Regional Court upheld the harsh sentence against six Jehovah's Witnesses from the town of Gukovo. The court found that the believers were involved in organizing the activity of an extremist organization.
Earlier, the court of first instance sentenced Nikita Moiseyev, Aleksey Dyadkin, Vladimir Popov and Yevgeniy Razumov to 7 years in a penal colony, and Aleksey Gorelov and Oleg Shidlovskiy to 6.5 years in a penal colony. They pleaded not guilty and filed an appeal against the verdict, stating that it was issued with numerous violations of the law and the conclusions set out in it contradict the facts. Since the court of appeal refused to take into account the arguments of the believers, they will defend their good name in courts of higher instances.
By January 2023, all six had spent 2 years and 5 months in a detention center. During this time, they faced various difficulties, including being kept in overcrowded cells. According to the believers, they feel the support of friends and fellow believers from all over the world, who have already written thousands of letters to them.
The international community has repeatedly condemned the actions of the Russian authorities towards Jehovah's Witnesses. In June 2022, the European Court of Human Rights stated: “the forced dissolution of all religious organizations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia... disclosed indications of a policy of intolerance by the Russian authorities towards the religious practices ofJehovah’s Witnesses designed to cause Jehovah’s Witnesses to abandon their faith and to prevent others from joining it.” (MRO Taganrog and Others v. Russia judgment, §254).