The bailiffs take away handcuffed Alexey Gerasimov. December 2023

Unjust Verdicts

Aleksey Gerasimov, One of Jehovah's Witnesses from Kazan, Sentenced to Six Years in Prison for Talking About the Bible


On December 7, 2023, the consideration of the criminal case against one of Jehovah's Witnesses Aleksey Gerasimov was completed in the Kirovsky District Court of Kazan. Judge Anna Kryuchenkova sentenced the believer to 6 years of imprisonment for reading the Bible with friends. He is taken into custody in the courtroom.

In September 2022, law enforcement officers accused the believer of organizing the activities of an extremist organization (Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). The decision to initiate a criminal case stated that unidentified persons "involved individual residents of Kazan" in religious activities, "gave lectures and showed videos promoting the ideas of the religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses." The investigation was conducted by the investigator of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Republic of Tatarstan A. A. Giniyatullin, and in January 2023 the case was transferred to the court, where it was considered for almost another year.

After listening to the opinion of the state prosecution, Gerasimov concluded: according to the prosecutor's office, in order to be innocent, he had to change his religion in 2017. The defendant called such expectations insulting and considers it unacceptable to renounce his faith. He pleaded not guilty to extremism and has the right to appeal the verdict.

Gerasimov emphasized that he simply professed the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses. According to the appellate ruling of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of June 17, 2017, in case No. APL17-216, when considering the case of liquidation of legal entities of Jehovah's Witnesses, "the court of first instance did not assess the legality of the religious beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses and the ways of expressing them." Accordingly, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation did not prohibit the practice of this faith in Russia.

"It is important to learn to treat the fact of persecution as a 'normal' component of the life of modern Christians, since Christ warned about it," Aleksey commented on the criminal case for faith.

According to Mariana Katsarova, the UN Human Rights Council's special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Russian Federation, "laws on combating terrorism and extremism . . . are used to restrict freedom of speech... The definition of extremism contained in the law consists of a long list of 'extremist actions', which is gradually being supplemented. The breadth and vagueness of this definition has been criticized by the Human Rights Committee and the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe" (§§ 64, 65).

Case of Gerasimov case in Kazan

Case History
Aleksey Gerasimov became another victim of religious persecution in Kazan. In March 2022, searches were conducted in the homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Several of them, including Gerasimov, were interrogated. According to investigators, Aleksey continued to meet with fellow believers to discuss the Holy Scriptures, which the authorities considered to be undermining the foundations of the constitutional order of Russia. In this regard, law enforcement officers opened a criminal case against the believer, accusing him of organizing the activities of an extremist organization. In January 2023, the case was transferred to the Kirovsky District Court of Kazan, and in December 2023, the believer was sentenced to 6 years in prison. In March 2024, the appeal upheld this decision.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Suspected of:
"involved individual residents of Kazan" in religious activities, and also "made decisions on the gathering of members and the search for accomplices in ideological propaganda", "gave lectures and showed video recordings promoting the ideas of the religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses"
Court case number:
February 10, 2022
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Tatarstan
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
Court of First Instance:
Кировский районный суд г. Казани
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Анна Крюченкова
Case History