Residents of Gukovo convicted for their faith communicate via video link with a support group. January 2023

Unjust Verdicts

In Krasnodar, the Court of Cassation <br>Upheld the Appeal of Sentences for their Faith of Six Jehovah's Witnesses From the City of Gukovo: From Six-and-a-half to Seven years in a Penal Colony

Rostov Region,   Krasnodar Territory,   Lipetsk Region,   Ulyanovsk Region

On July 25, 2023 the panel of Judges of the Fourth General Jurisdiction Court of Cassation, chaired by Igor Konyaev, upheld the verdict and the appeal against it of six believers from the city of Gukovo . All of them are already serving their terms in the penal colonies.

Aleksey Goreliy, Oleg Shidlovskiy, Nikita Moiseyev, Aleksey Dyadkin, Vladimir Popov and Yevgeniy Razumov were sentenced to six-and-a-half to seven years in prison. This harsh sentence was handed down against these Jehovah's Witnesses by Judge Natalya Batura of the Gukovsky City Court in September of 2022. The believers ended up behind bars in August of 2020, immediately after investigators initiated a criminal case against them and searched their homes.

The appeal upheld the verdict of the Court of First Instance and the believers filed a complaint with the Court of Cassation. It says: “Law enforcement agencies have not established a single fact of illegal activities committed by the believers. Even . . . [during surveillance] nothing was recorded to assert that . . . Jehovah's Witnesses commit or call for illegal acts. Also, not a single person has been identified who suffered from the activities of the believers.”

The defense reminded the court of the decision of the Plenum of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, in which it confirmed that the actions of Jehovah's Witnesses consisting solely in the exercise of their right to freedom of religion, do not constitute a crime.The court ignored the arguments of the believers and their lawyers.

The estimated date of release from the penal colony of Oleg Shidlovskiy and Aleksey Goreliy is November 2025. The rest of the believers should be released in May-June of 2026.

The case of Moiseyev and Others in Gukovo

Case History
In August 2020 the security forces conducted searches in the homes of residents of Gukovo. The Investigative Committee initiated a criminal case against Aleksey Dyadkin, Vladimir Popov, Yevgeniy Razumov, Aleksey Goreliy, Nikita Moiseyev and Oleg Shidlovskiy. These peaceful believers were accused of organizing the activities of an extremist organization. The men’s crime, according to the investigators, is that they “prayed and sang songs to Jehovah God.” Since August 2020 all six have been in pre-trial. As it later became known, an infiltrated FSB agent had been watching the believers for a long time. In November of 2021 the case went to trial. The testimonies of interviewed religious scholars confirmed that these men were tried only for their peaceful religious activities. In September 2022 the court sentenced Goreliy and Shidlovskiy to six-and-a-half years in a general penal colony, while the rest of the believers were sentenced to seven years. In January of 2023 the appeal court approved the verdict, and then six months later the cassational court upheld it.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Rostov Region
Suspected of:
According to the investigation, "they convened meetings of fellow believers, prayed and sang songs to Jehovah God."
Court case number:
August 7, 2020
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Rostov Region Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Investigative Committee of Russia
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-20/2022 (1-710/2021)
Гуковский городской суд Ростовской области
Наталья Батура
Case History