Andrey Sazonov after the verdict was read out outside the courthouse, December 2021


The Second Appeal Overturned the Sentence of Andrey Sazonov, One of Jehovah's Witnesses From Uray. The Case Is Sent Back for the Third Retrial

Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area

On January 11, 2024, the Judicial Collegium of the Court of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area -- Yugra, chaired by Judge Lyudmila Blashkova, overturned the verdict against Andrey Sazonov and sent the case for a new trial to the Uray City Court with a new panel of judges.

In the winter of 2021, the Uray City Court found Andrey Sazonov guilty of organizing the activities of an extremist organization and its financing and sentenced him to a fine of 450,000 rubles. The court considered Sazonov's peaceful religious activities, as well as participation in fundraising to help his fellow believers, to be a crime. The verdict was appealed. The appellate instance overturned the verdict, sending the case for a new trial.

In a new appeal, the believer noted: "A religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses is the name of a religious denomination of an international character, which the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation did not ban."

He added that there was no corpus delicti in his actions of a religious nature: "All witnesses unanimously testified [in court] that they had never heard from me statements inciting religious hatred or enmity, and did not see any other signs of extremism. The forensic examinations conducted in the case did not establish the presence of signs of extremism in worship services either."

Apart from preliminary hearings and court hearings concerning his restraint measures, Andrey Sazonov has had to go to courts for more than 3.5 years. In the Uray City Court, his case has already been heard by two of all three judges working there with criminal cases. When announcing the appeal decision, the court did not explain why the believer's case was again sent for retrial.

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.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area
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:
January 31, 2019
Current case stage:
trial in Court of First Instance
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)
Урайский городской суд ХМАО-Югра
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Игорь Поспелов
Case History