Dmitriy with his wife Marina after the appeal court decision, Novosibirsk, September 2023

Unjust Verdicts

Appeal Court in Novosibirsk Upheld the Sentence for Dmitriy Dolzhikov — 2 Years of Forced Labor for His Faith in Jehovah God

Novosibirsk Region

On September 22, 2023, the Novosibirsk Regional Court upheld the verdict against Dmitriy Dolzhikov. Earlier, the court of the first instance sentenced him to 3 years in a penal colony, but replaced the term with forced labor. Taking into account the time spent under arrest, he will only have to serve 2 years of forced labor.

The court of appeal ignored the arguments of Dolzhikov, who stated: "The law does not consider practising, including together with others, the religion to which the liquidated religious associations belonged as a sign of extremism." In his appeal, Dmitriy stated: "The court did not establish the presence of motives of religious hatred or enmity in my actions; It has not been established against which specific social group I acted. All my actions were completely peaceful. I did not do anything that would indicate the continuation of the activities of any extremist organization."

In total, 8 Jehovah's Witnesses are being prosecuted for their faith in the Novosibirsk Region, one of whom is in a penal colony, and another was recently released.

Back in 2018, human rights activists, commenting on the criminal prosecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, said: "What is happening to them, in fact, is happening to us: this is a test of the immune forces of society. The prosecution of Jehovah's Witnesses shows the failure of anti-extremist legislation in general. If society does not protect Jehovah's Witnesses, if they are not restored to their rights, this will mean that anyone can be declared an extremist."

Dolzhikov case in Novosibirsk

Case history
In May 2020, Dmitry Dolzhikov became one of the defendants in a criminal case for his faith, which was initiated by the Investigative Committee for the Novosibirsk Region. When the believer moved to another region, his case was separated into a separate proceeding. His new place of residence was searched in September 2022. Dolzhikov was interrogated and then taken back to Novosibirsk, where he was placed in a pre-trial detention center for 2.5 months. Since November 2022, the believer has been under house arrest. The court began hearing his case in December of the same year. The case involved the testimony of a secret witness and two Orthodox activists-“sectologists”, and many of the materials in the case concerned not Dolzhikov, but other believers. In June 2023, the court sentenced Dmitriy to 3 years in prison and 1 year of restriction of freedom, which was replaced by forced labor. In September 2023, the appeal upheld this decision. Since November, Dmitry has been in the correctional center at IK-9 in Novosibirsk, where he was assigned to work as a shoemaker at a city enterprise.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Novosibirsk Region
Suspected of:
What is suspected: "deliberately, out of extremist motives, took part in the activities of a religious association ... in the form of participation in religious meetings and meetings of an extremist organization, holding conversations ... demonstration and viewing of training videos"
Court case number:
May 13, 2020
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee for the Novosibirsk Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-51/2023 (1-737/2022)
Court of First Instance:
Ленинский районный суд Новосибирска
Ольга Коваленко