Nataliya Kriger near the Regional court. May 2023

Unjust Verdicts

An Appeal in Birobidzhan Reaffirmed the Sentence of Nataliya Kriger. After a Court Review, She Was Given a 2.5-Year Suspended Sentence for Her Faith in God

Jewish Autonomous Area

On May 22, 2023, the court of the Jewish Autonomous Region held the third hearing of the case of Nataliya Kriger on appeal, this time against a new conviction for her faith, issued after the cancellation of previous decisions. The 2.5-year suspended sentence entered into force.

Nataliya does not consider herself guilty and has been defending her constitutional right to freedom of religion in courts for 2 years and 8 months. In her appeal, she stated that the court of first instance had not taken into account her right to remain a believer after the liquidation of the legal entity of the religious organization. In addition, she stated that she was convicted under an article for extremism without specifying specific extremist actions. According to Nataliya, the court ignored her arguments and explanations regarding her peaceful religious beliefs. She said: “The expression of hatred or enmity, or the division of people along class or social lines is alien to me. My religious views are based on the Bible. They are expressed in two basic commandments: love for God and love for people”.

The believer faced criminal prosecution in May 2018 when her home was raided as part of "Judgement Day” operation. In February 2020, a criminal case was initiated against her. After 6 months of investigation and 11 months of litigation, in July 2021, Nataliya received her first conviction. Later, the court of appeal upheld it, and then the court of cassation returned the case to the stage of appeal, which, in turn, sent it for a new trial to the court of first instance.

In March 2023, the Birobidzhansky District Court again found Nataliya Kriger guilty of participating in the activity of an extremist organization, imposing a 2.5-year suspended sentence with a probationary period of 2 years and restriction of liberty for 1 year.

In December 2022, the same Birobidzhansky District Court sent Nataliya's husband Valeriy to a penal colony for 7 years on similar charges. He is awaiting an appeal hearing in his criminal case.

Russian human rights activists and the global community condemn the persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia. The ECHR recognized these actions as illegal and called on the Russian Federation to stop the prosecution of believers.

The Kriger case in Birobidzhan

Case History
In May 2018, the home of a Birobidzhan resident, Natalya Kriger, was searched by law enforcement officers. Three days earlier, a criminal case was initiated against her husband Valeriy for extremism, and in February 2020, the FSB initiated a criminal case against Natalia herself. She was accused of continuing the activity of an extremist organization. In August 2020, the believer’s case went to court. The prosecutor requested a sentence of 4 years in prison for her, and in July 2021 the court gave the believer a 2.5-year suspended sentence. The court of appeal upheld the verdict, but in August 2022, the court of cassation sent the case back for a new appeal, which, in turn, returned the case for review to the court of first instance to another judge. He also gave the believer a 2.5-year suspended sentence. The court of appeal upheld this verdict.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Jewish Autonomous Area
Suspected of:
According to the investigation, she committed deliberate actions related to the resumption and continuation of the activities of the local religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses in the city of Birobidzhan
Court case number:
February 12, 2020
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
UFSB of Russia in the Jewish Autonomous Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-37/2023 (1-713/2022; 1-46/2021; 1-464/2020)
Биробиджанский районный суд ЕАО
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Куликов Александр
Case History