Darya and Venera Dulov, Alexander Pryanikov
An Appeal in Yekaterinburg Again Overturned the Conviction of Believers from Karpinsk. The Case Was Returned to the ProsecutorSverdlovsk Region
On July 6, 2023, four months after the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation overturned the acquittal of Jehovah’s Witnesses from the city of Karpinsk, the Sverdlovsk Regional Court ruled that the case against Aleksandr Prianikov, Venera Dulova, and her daughter, Darya, be returned to the prosecutor.
The believers insist on their innocence. At the appeal hearing, Venera Dulova said: “I believe this criminal case was fabricated; I consider it religious repression, because my religion is the only reason for the charge.” Her daughter, Darya, added: “I can say in good conscience that I am not guilty of either extremism or participation in the activities of banned religious organizations.”
The investigation's accusations against the three believers come down to conversations about the Bible. Aleksandr Prianikov asked the appellate court: “What is the public danger? Whom have I harmed? It never crossed my mind that a conversation with someone on topics like family happiness, comfort for those who mourn, and a future earthly paradise is so dangerous that it warrants prosecution under serious charges and the threat of being thrown into prison."
The Dulovs and Prianikov have been defending their innocence in court since September 2019. The Sverdlovsk Regional Court twice overturned convictions against the believers. The cassation court also took their side. However, the prosecutor's office appealed these decisions to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, which, contrary to its own explanations at the Plenum in 2021, overturned the acquittal.
The European Commission for Democracy through Law warned the Russian Federation back in 2012 that the anti-extremism law “on account of its broad and imprecise wording ... provides too wide discretion ... thus leading to arbitrariness” and that it carries “potential dangers to individuals.” 10 years later, the ECHR condemned the actions of the Russian authorities in relation to Jehovah's Witnesses, pointing out that a large-scale repressive campaign was launched against the followers of this religion.