Pavel Popov

Unjust Verdicts

The Court of Appeal in Chelyabinsk Upheld the Sentence of Pavel Popov

Chelyabinsk Region

On August 18, 2022, a panel of judges of the Chelyabinsk Regional Court, chaired by Andrey Averkin, upheld the verdict against Pavel Popov — a 6-year suspended sentence. The believer continues to insist on his innocence and has the right to appeal this decision in the cassation procedure.

On May 25, 2022, Mariya Melnikova, judge of the Metallurgichesky District Court of Chelyabinsk, found Pavel guilty of organizing the activity of an extremist organization. According to the believer, the charges against him were based on the testimony of agent Ruzaeva, who only told the court that she had heard his voice at the meeting for worship. Based on the facts presented in court, Popov concludes: “Evidence was considered in the court of first instance. This evidence does not prove any criminal activity by me, but only my faith in God. I did not commit any extremist actions”.

Despite all the hardships associated with the trial and the unlawfulness of the accusations against him, Pavel tries not to lose strength and optimism. He said, “Friends stay until the end of the process and then they chat and give me support. Every time they give me and my family some gifts. All this is very encouraging and gives extra strength.” The believer is especially grateful for the support of his wife and daughter, who also courageously cope with the trials that have befallen them.

In recent years, 13 Jehovah's Witnesses have been prosecuted for their religious beliefs in the Chelyabinsk Region, 10 of whom have already been given various suspended sentences and fines.

The global human rights community considers the prosecution of Jehovah's Witnesses unlawful. In particular the European Court of Human Rights has stated: “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).

The Case of Popov in Chelyabinsk

Case history
The security forces searched the apartment of Pavel Popov and his wife in the presence of their young daughter twice - in 2019 and 2021. A peaceful believer from Yemanzhelinsk was brought in as a witness in the case of Valentina Suvorova from Chelyabinsk, and in April 2021, investigator of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation Alexander Chepenko opened a criminal case against him. He considered preaching, singing religious songs and prayers to be organizing the activities of an extremist organization. In November 2021, the case went to court. During the hearings, it became obvious that the testimony of prosecution witnesses was falsified, and the prosecution had no evidence. Despite this, the prosecutor asked the court to sentence the believer to 8 years in prison. In May 2022, the believer was found guilty and sentenced to 6 years probation with a probation period of 4 years. The appeal and cassation upheld the verdict.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Chelyabinsk Region
Locality:
Chelyabinsk
Court case number:
12102750030000010
Initiated:
April 22, 2021
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigating:
Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Chelyabinsk Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-77/2022 (1-659/2021)
Court of First Instance:
Металлургический районный суд г. Челябинска
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Мария Мельникова
Background