Illustrative photo

Actions of Law Enforcement Officers

After Searches at the Homes of Jehovah's Witnesses In Tolyatti Two Criminal Cases Were Initiated for Their Faith

Samara Region

On May 16, 2023, in Tolyatti, officers of the Investigative Committee and the FSB broke into the homes of at least three families of believers. Two new criminal cases are known to have been initiated. Aleksandr Dolganov, 34, was placed under house arrest, and Sona Olopova, 36, signed a recognizance agreement.

Searches of the homes of the Dolganovs and of another believer started at about 6:30 in the morning and lasted more than two hours. At about the same time, a search took place at the home of Anatoliy and Sona Olopovs. Armed law enforcement officers confiscated electronic devices and personal records from the believers, and foreign passports were also taken from Dolganov and Olopova. Sona Olopova was taken for interrogation to the building of the investigative department, where she was kept until about 7.00 p.m, after which she was released under recognizance agreement.

After the searches, Aleksandr Dolganov was detained and placed in a temporary detention center. The next day, May 17, Elena Laskina, judge of the Central District Court of Tolyatti, placed him under house arrest.

The criminal prosecution was initiated by the Central Interdistrict Investigative Department for the city of Tolyatti of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation. The investigative actions were led by senior investigators A. S. Kharitonov, R. N. Mgoyan and A. O. Grekov. The day before the searches, the latter initiated at least two criminal cases: against Aleksandr Dolganov and Sona Olopova. Both are charged with Part 2 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. According to Grekov, from 2017 to the present time the believers have been participating in the activity of a banned religious association.

Update. It is now known that a criminal case was initiated under the same article against another believer, 61-year-old Elena Kozhevnikova. On May 18, 2023, investigator R. N. Mgoyan placed her under a recognizance agreement.

Earlier, in the Samara Region, two criminal cases had already been initiated against five Jehovah's Witnesses for their faith.

The case of Dolganov in Tolyatti

Case History
In May 2023, in Tolyatti, officers of the Investigative Committee and the FSB broke into the homes of four families of believers with searches. A criminal case was opened against Aleksandr Dolganov for his faith. After interrogation, he was placed under house arrest for 85 days, and then he was banned from certain actions. In July 2023, the case went to court. The prosecution was based on the testimony of two witnesses who cooperated with the investigation. One of them, who secretly filmed the services, does not know the defendant personally, but has a negative attitude towards Jehovah’s Witnesses. Also at the trial, it turned out that the specialists who conducted the psychological and religious examination did not have the necessary qualifications and approached the work entrusted to them negligently. In April 2024, the court sentenced Aleksandr to 3 years in prison. In the courtroom, he was taken into custody and placed in a pre-trial detention center.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Samara Region
Locality:
Tolyatti
Court case number:
12302360032000240
Initiated:
May 15, 2023
Current case stage:
Appeal
Investigating:
Central Interdistrict Investigation Department for the City of Tolyatti of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Samara Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-72/2024 (1-978/2023)
Court of First Instance:
Автозаводской районный суд г. Тольятти.
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Анна Токарева
Case History

Case of Olopova in Tolyatti

Case History
In May 2023, in Tolyatti, officers of the Investigative Committee and the FSB broke into the homes of at least three families of believers, including Sona Olopova, against whom a criminal case was opened for her faith. After interrogation, they took a written undertaking not to leave the place. At the end of July 2023, the case went to court. There was a secret witness in the case who said that the services were held without signs of extremism and were not related to the activities of any legal entity. The prosecutor asked the court to sentence the believer to 4 years in prison. In January 2024, she was sentenced to 2 years of forced labor. An appeal in April 2024 upheld this decision.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Samara Region
Locality:
Tolyatti
Court case number:
12302360032000242
Initiated:
May 15, 2023
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigating:
Central Interdistrict Investigation Department for the City of Tolyatti of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Samara Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-50/2024 (1-547/2023)
Court of First Instance:
Центральный районный суд г. Тольятти
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Татьяна Бегунова
Case History

The case of Kozhevnikova in Tolyatti

Case History
In May 2023, the homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the city of Tolyatti were searched. Yelena Kozhevnikova became a defendant in a criminal case for her faith. A written undertaking not to leave was taken from her. The woman was accused of participating in the activities of an extremist organization only because she gathered with friends to discuss Bible teachings. The basis for initiating a criminal case was a hidden video recording of religious services, which was conducted for 2.5 years. In July 2023, the case went to court. The prosecutor requested 4 years in prison for Yelena. In March 2024, the court issued a 2-year suspended sentence.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Samara Region
Locality:
Tolyatti
Suspected of:
"In an unspecified period of time ... being in a place unidentified by the investigation, being a citizen of the Russian Federation, she joined the religious organization "Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia" and local religious organizations that are part of its structure [...] Organized the production and distribution of paper media containing the ideology of the above-mentioned religious organization" (from the Decision on bringing as an accused).
Court case number:
12302360032000243
Initiated:
May 15, 2023
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigating:
Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Samara Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-45/2024 (1-525/2023)
Court of First Instance:
Центральный районный суд г. Тольятти
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Ирина Онучина
Case History

Yurenkova's case in Tolyatti

Case History
Yelena Yurenkova became a defendant in a criminal case for her faith when searches were carried out in Tolyatti in May 2023. They placed her under recognizance agreement. The Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee for the Samara Region accused the woman of participating in the activities of an extremist organization in connection with her peaceful meetings with fellow believers. The basis for initiating a criminal case was a hidden video recording of worship services, which was conducted for 2.5 years. In July 2023, the case went to court. The prosecutor requested a sentence of 4 years in prison for Yelena. In March 2024, the court sentenced the believer to 2 years suspended sentence.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Samara Region
Locality:
Tolyatti
Suspected of:
"took active steps by taking an active part in the activities of the organization ... through participation in collective meetings... where ideology was discussed ... religious organization" (from the Decision on bringing as an accused).
Court case number:
12302360032000241
Initiated:
May 15, 2023
Current case stage:
Appeal
Investigating:
Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Samara Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-44/2024 (1-524/2023)
Court of First Instance:
Центральный районный суд г. Тольятти
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Анастасия Фёдорова
Case History