Yuriy Chernykh

Unjust Verdicts

The Appeal in Kemerovo Upheld the Verdict Against Yuriy Chernykh. As One of Jehovah's Witnesses He Was Sentenced to Forced Labor

Kemerovo Region

On November 28, 2023, a panel of judges of the Kemerovo Regional Court, chaired by Yelena Fedusova, upheld the verdict against Yuriy Chernykh from the city of Prokopyevsk. The believer will have to serve a sentence of 3 years of forced labor.

This punishment was imposed on the father of a minor child in September 2023 by the judge of the first instance court, Alyona Novoselova. The believer did not agree with the verdict and appealed it in a higher court. In his appeal, he stated: "All my actions were completely peaceful. The prosecution did not allege that I incited violence or religious hatred and enmity. I did not do anything that would indicate the continuation of the activities of any extremist organization. On the basis of Article 28 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, my fellow believers and I had every right to meet to discuss the Bible and communicate, which in no way depends on the existence of any religious organization."

The believer has the right to appeal the court's decision in cassation.

Chernykh has been defending the right to practice his religion for more than two years. Prior to that, Yuriy was a witness in the case of his fellow believer Andrey Vlasov, a disabled person of group II, who is serving his sentence in a colony. Yuriy's wife Yelena was also prosecuted, her case is now being considered by the court of first instance.

According to a the statement of the Government of the Russian Federation dated March 23, 2018, "the decision of the Supreme Court ... and the appellate ruling of the Appellate Board... do not assess the doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses, do not contain a restriction or prohibition to practice the above teachings individually." Despite this, more and more believers are being prosecuted for private religious practice. Often, as in the case of Yuriy and Yelena Chernykh, if one of the family members, Jehovah’s Witnesses, is accused in extremism first, the other family members are under the threat then.

Case of Chernykh in Prokopyevsk

Case History
In November 2021, the Investigative Committee brought Yuriy Chernykh as a defendant in the case of participation in the activities of an extremist organization. Previously, the believer was interrogated as a witness in the case against another Jehovah’s Witness from Prokopyevsk, Andrey Vlasov. The Chernykhs, the father of a minor child, were searched twice, he was obliged to appear, and later signed a written undertaking not to leave. In June 2022, the case went to court. And in September 2023, the court found Yuriy Chernykh guilty and sentenced him to 3 years of forced labor minus 15% of his salary in favor of the state and 2.5 years of ban on public activities.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Kemerovo Region
Court case number:
November 5, 2021
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigative Directorate for Prokopyevsk, Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Kemerovo Region - Kuzbass
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-22/2023 (1-209/2022)
Court of First Instance:
Центральный районный суд г. Прокопьевска Кемеровской области
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Алёна Новосёлова
Case History