From left to right, top to bottom: Vladimir Popov, Aleksey Goreliy, Evgeniy Razumov, Oleg Shidlovskiy, Nikita Moiseyev, Aleksey Dyadkin

Unjust Verdicts

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 Colony

Rostov 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.

In the foreground, from left to right: Vladimir Popov, Oleg Shidlovskiy, Aleksey Dyadkin, Aleksey Goreliy. In the background, from left to right: Evgeniy Razumov, Nikita Moiseyev.
In the foreground, from left to right: Vladimir Popov, Oleg Shidlovskiy, Aleksey Dyadkin, Aleksey Goreliy. In the background, from left to right: Evgeniy Razumov, Nikita Moiseyev.

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).

The case of Moiseyev and Others in Gukovo

Case History
In August 2020 the security forces conducted searches in the homes of residents of Gukovo. The Investigative Committee initiated a criminal case against Aleksey Dyadkin, Vladimir Popov, Yevgeniy Razumov, Aleksey Goreliy, Nikita Moiseyev and Oleg Shidlovskiy. These peaceful believers were accused of organizing the activities of an extremist organization. The men’s crime, according to the investigators, is that they “prayed and sang songs to Jehovah God.” Since August 2020 all six have been in pre-trial. As it later became known, an infiltrated FSB agent had been watching the believers for a long time. In November of 2021 the case went to trial. The testimonies of interviewed religious scholars confirmed that these men were tried only for their peaceful religious activities. In September 2022 the court sentenced Goreliy and Shidlovskiy to six-and-a-half years in a general penal colony, while the rest of the believers were sentenced to seven years. In January of 2023 the appeal court approved the verdict, and then six months later the cassational court upheld it.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Rostov Region
Suspected of:
According to the investigation, "they convened meetings of fellow believers, prayed and sang songs to Jehovah God."
Court case number:
August 7, 2020
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Rostov Region Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Investigative Committee of Russia
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-20/2022 (1-710/2021)
Гуковский городской суд Ростовской области
Наталья Батура
Case History