Olga Mirgorodskaya and Sergey Kazakov

Unjust Verdicts

The Regional Court in Khabarovsk Reduced the Fine of One of the Two Jehovah's Witnesses Convicted for Faith

Khabarovsk Territory

On October 30, 2023, a panel of judges of the Khabarovsk Regional Court approved the conviction of Olga Mirgorodskaya and Sergey Kazakov. Believers will pay fines to the state. Olga — 300,000 rubles, as ruled by the court of first instance, and Sergey — 200,000 rubles, which is 2.5 times less than the amount originally appointed by the court.

Both believers still insist on their innocence and believe that the decisions of the courts violate the laws of the Russian Federation. According to Kazakov and Mirgorodskaya, they were convicted not for real extremism, but "only for professing beliefs based on the Bible and peacefully practicing their Christian faith as Jehovah's Witnesses."

The defense stated that what was happening "is reminiscent of the totalitarian regime in Soviet times, when Jehovah's Witnesses were exiled to the eastern part of the USSR in special Gulag camps ... The actual purpose of the verdict is to violate the rights of the convicted persons and force them to change their religion or renounce their faith under pain of criminal prosecution."

Convictions for beliefs of another 13 residents of the Khabarovsk Territory have already entered into force. Twelve believers were given suspended sentences, and one received a fine.

The Case of Kazakov and Mirgorodskaya in Bikin

Case History
In November 2020, the Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against Sergey Kazakov, a retired firefighter, and Olga Mirgorodskaya, a mother of two children. The investigation suspected Sergey of organizing extremist activities, and Olga of participating in it. A month later, the homes of peaceful believers were searched. Sergey was detained in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, where he was caring for an elderly mother who had suffered a stroke. He spent more than 5 months in the pre-trial detention center, another 2 months under house arrest. The case has been pending in court since February 2022. At a preliminary hearing, the judge decided to return the case to the prosecutor, but this decision was later overturned. In May, the case of the believers was again sent to court for consideration by the same composition. In August 2023, the court found Olga Mirgorodskaya and Sergey Kazakov guilty and fined them 300,000 and 500,000 rubles, respectively. The appeal upheld the verdict, but reduced the amount of the fine for Kazakov to 200,000 rubles.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Khabarovsk Territory
Court case number:
November 9, 2020
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Second Department for the Investigation of Particularly Important Cases of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Khabarovsk Territory and the Jewish Autonomous Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1), 282.2 (2)
Court case number:
Court of First Instance:
Бикинский городской суд Хабаровского края
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Денис Днепровский
Case History