Igor Gusev near the Zheleznodorozhny District Court of Krasnoyarsk on the day of sentencing

Unjust Verdicts

Six Hundred Thousand Rubles—What Igor Gusev Will Pay for His Faith in God. The Appellate Court in Krasnoyarsk Upheld the Verdict of the Lower Court

Krasnoyarsk Territory

On March 28, 2023, a panel of judges of the Krasnoyarsk Territorial Court chaired by Natalya Abramova upheld the decision of the lower court. Igor Gusev, who is 58 years old, will have to pay a fine of 600,000 rubles for his faith.

The court of first instance imposed this punishment on the believer in November 2022. The investigation and trial lasted nine months. The case was based on recordings of four worship services of Jehovah's Witnesses secretly recorded by an undercover agent. The prosecution did not present a single extremist statement by Igor in the transcripts of these meetings of fellow believers. The collected evidence revealed only the religious affiliation of the believer, which he never hid to begin with.

Igor Gusev insists that he is not guilty. He describes how he feels about being persecuted for faith: “When I read about ... how brothers and sisters were in penal colonies in the USSR, I admired the strength of their faith. When the arrests began [in Russia], I saw in this the fulfillment of Jesus' words that his disciples would be taken to court.” Gusev also described what helps him stay positive: “The brothers and sisters who come to the courthouse encourage me so much. They support me with their kind words and have no fear of persecution by law enforcement agencies.”

In June 2022, the European Court of Human Rights made a historic decision that defended Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia. The court stated that Article 9 of the European Convention “protects the right of believers to meet peacefully in order to worship in the manner prescribed by their religion.” (§ 267)

Gusev's case in Krasnoyarsk

Case history
In May 2020, Igor Gusev, a resident of Krasnoyarsk, was interrogated as a witness in the case of another Krasnoyarsk resident, Vitaly Sukhov. And in February 2022, Igor himself became a defendant in a criminal case for believing in Jehovah God. The investigator of the Investigative Committee considered that the believer continued the activities of the extremist organization, since he did not stop discussing the Bible with fellow believers after the Supreme Court liquidated the legal entity of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In July 2022, Igor Gusev’s criminal case was submitted to court. In November of the same year, a judge sentenced the believer to a fine of 600,000 rubles. The appeal upheld this decision in March 2023.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Krasnoyarsk Territory
Locality:
Krasnoyarsk
Suspected of:
According to the investigation, he "organized religious performances and services."
Court case number:
12202040002000017
Initiated:
February 17, 2022
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigating:
Main Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of Russia for the Krasnoyarsk Territory and the Republic of Khakassia
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-369/2022
Court of First Instance:
Железнодорожный районный суд г. Красноярска
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Александр Аксютенко
Background