The Court of Cassation Upheld the Decisions of the Lower Courts Regarding Five Believers from the City of BlagoveshchenskAmur Region
On September 26, a panel of judges of the Ninth Court of Cassation of General Jurisdiction in Vladivostok upheld the verdict of Sergey Afanasiyev, Anton Olshevskiy, Sergey Kardakov, Adam Svarichevskiy and Sergey Yermilov. Each of them received more than six years in a penal colony for their faith.
It was noted in one of the court of cassation's appeals, that "Even in Soviet times, during the persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses, believers were not always sentenced to imprisonment, especially for such a long period as in the present case".
All five of the believers from Blagoveshchensk have pleaded not guilty and believe that what they are being persecuted for is not for any crime, but for practicing the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses. In support of this, the believers point out that law enforcement agencies have not established a single fact pointing to their engagement in illegal activities.
All of this runs Non-breaking spacecontarary tothe decisionk up: a of the Plenum of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, which states that "actions consisting solely in the exercise of their right to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion ... by themselves, if they do not contain signs of extremism, do not constitute a crime."