Vera Zolotova, Konstantin and Snezhana Bazhenov

Unjust Verdicts

The Court of Cassation in Vladivostok Upheld the Verdict Against Believers From Yelizovo

Kamchatka Territory

On September 12, 2023, the Ninth Court of Cassation of General Jurisdiction in Vladivostok upheld the verdict against Konstantin Bazhenov and his wife Snezhana, as well as Vera Zolotova — a 2-year suspended sentence for their beliefs.

The court proceedings in the case against the believers from Yelizovo are already going on for 4 years. In September 2020, Yuliya Piskun, judge of the Yelizovsky District Court, handed down all three a guilty verdict, which was upheld by the court of appeal, but in November 2021, the court of cassation overturned this decision and returned the case to the appeal stage. In January 2022, a second court of appeal acquitted the believers. However, the prosecutor's office, through the Supreme Court, achieved that this decision was overturned. As a result, the case was sent for a new appeal consideration, the believers were found guilty of extremism and given suspended sentences. The believers filed a cassation appeal.

In the Kamchatka Territory, another 10 Jehovah's Witnesses are beeing repressed for their religious beliefs. Six of them were given suspended sentences of various lengths, and two were ordered to pay fines.

Case of the Bazhenovs and Others in Yelizovo

Case history
In 2018, in Yelizovo, Snezhana and Konstantin Bazhenov, both teachers, as well as widowed pensioner Vera Zolotova, were detained, their houses were searched, and a few days later they had to sign a recognizance agreement. The Investigative Committee equated the holding of joint meetings for worship to illegal activity. In September 2020, the court gave each of them a 2-year suspended sentence. The court of appeal upheld this decision, but the court of cassation returned the case for retrial to the territory court. In January 2022, it acquitted the believers, but the prosecutor’s office achieved that the verdict was overturned in the RF Supreme Court, and the case was returned to the appeal stage, and later the courts of cassation supported the verdict of a 2-year suspended sentence.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Kamchatka Territory
Locality:
Yelizovo
Suspected of:
according to the investigation, together with others he conducted religious services, which is interpreted as “organising the activity of an extremist organisation” (with reference to the decision of the Russian Supreme Court on the liquidation of all 396 registered organisations of Jehovah’s Witnesses).
Court case number:
11802300004000052
Initiated:
August 17, 2018
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigating:
Investigative Department of the city of Yelizovo of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Kamchatka Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-78/2020
Court:
Елизовский районный суд Камчатского края
Judge:
Юлия Пискун
Background