Andrey Sazonov on the day of the verdict

Unjust Verdicts

In Uray, Andrey Sazonov Was Again Fined for Reading the Bible

Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area

On October 23, 2023, Igor Pospelov, judge of the Uray City Court, found Andrey Sazonov, 43, guilty of extremism for discussing the Bible. The believer was fined 450,000 rubles.

Two years earlier, the court imposed a fine of 500,000 rubles on Sazonov. The appellate court overturned the verdict and remanded the case for a new trial. The retrial lasted almost a year and a half. The witnesses for the prosecution described Sazonov positively. It turned out that there are no victims in the case, and religious and linguistic expert studies did not reveal any extremist statements in the examined materials. The prosecutor requested a fine of 1,300,000 rubles for the believer.

In his final statement, the believer said: "I have not said or done anything that could be related to extremism. Moreover, my respect and faith in God do not even allow me to think about anything like that."

Andrey Sazonov has been defending the right to freely profess his faith for almost 4 years. A criminal case against him was initiated in January 2019. Shortly thereafter, a series of searches and interrogations took place in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area, during which several believers were tortured.

A total of 27 Jehovah's Witnesses in the region are being prosecuted solely for exercising their right to freedom of religion.

The case of Sazonov in Uray

Case history
In January 2019, Andrey Sazonov, the father of two minor children, the deputy general director of an energy company, faced persecution for his faith. The investigator of the Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against him on the organization of extremist activities. After the search and interrogation, the believer was placed in a pre-trial detention center for 20 days, then placed under house arrest, and six months later - under a ban on certain actions. Later, Andrei Sazonov was also accused of financing the activities of an extremist organization. The court considered the case from June 2020 to December 2021. As a result, Sazonov was sentenced to a fine of 500,000 rubles. The appeal overturned this decision and sent the case for a new trial to the same court, but with a different composition. In June 2022, repeated hearings began, and in October 2023, the court imposed a fine of 450,000 rubles on the believer. In January 2024, a second appeal overturned the verdict and sent the case back for reconsideration.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area
Locality:
Uray
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)
Court case number:
11902711001000310
Initiated:
January 31, 2019
Current case stage:
trial in Court of First Instance
Investigating:
Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Khanty-Mansi Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1), 282.3 (1)
Court case number:
1-6/2023 (1-128/2022; 1-7/2021; 1-83/2020)
Court:
Урайский городской суд ХМАО-Югра
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Игорь Поспелов
Background