Yelena Menchikova near the courthouse in Cherkessk. November 2022

Unjust Verdicts

A Court in Cherkessk Reviewed Yelena Menchikova's Case and Found Her Guilty of Extremism Again for Talking About the Bible

Karachay-Cherkessia

Yelena Menchikova, 59, was found guilty again - on January 23, 2024, the judge of the Cherkessk City Court, Nauruz Shukurov, sentenced the woman with a disability to four and a half years suspended with a probation period of two and a half years because of her religion.

As Yelena noted, speaking in court, the charges boil down to the fact that she invited friends "to study the Holy Scriptures (Bible), consisting of collective singing of songs, prayers, and the study of religious articles." "I never imagined that hospitality in the Caucasus would turn out to be such a grave crime and that punishment would follow," the believer said. At the same time, the indictment does not contain a specific description of what manifestations of extremism, when and under what circumstances Menchikova allowed.

Yelena Menchikova in the courtroom. January 24, 2024
Yelena Menchikova in the courtroom. January 24, 2024

The persecution of Yelena on religious grounds has been going on since December 2019. The first sentence — five years suspended with payment of legal costs — was handed down to her in December 2021. Two months later, the appeal released the woman from paying court costs, and later the cassation sent the case for a new trial.

In Karachay-Cherkessia, four more of Jehovah's Witnesses have been prosecuted, and two of them have already received sentences for their faith. The world community calls on the Russian authorities "to drop charges and release all those detained for exercising their rights to freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, as well as the right to peaceful assembly and association."

Case of Menchikova in Cherkessk

Case history
Yelena Menchikova, an architect from Cherkessk, came to the attention of law enforcement agencies in December 2019, when her house was searched for the first time. The criminal case was initiated in November 2020. The FSB accused the believer of participating in the activities of an extremist organization, and then also of involving others in it. According to the investigation, Yelena “developed a criminal plan” to discuss the Bible. In April 2021, the case went to court. Although Yelena has a group II disability, the prosecutor demanded that she be sent to prison for five years. In December 2021, the court sentenced Menchikova to five years suspended and ordered her to pay all legal costs. The appeal released Elena from these payments but left the sentence unchanged. In December 2022, the cassation returned the case to the court for a new trial. In January 2024, the court handed down a second conviction – four and a half years suspended.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Karachay-Cherkessia
Locality:
Cherkessk
Court case number:
12007910001000026
Initiated:
November 3, 2020
Current case stage:
Appeal
Investigating:
Branch of the Federal Security Service of Russia in the Karachay-Cherkess Republic
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2), 282.2 (1.1)
Court case number:
1-279/2023
Court:
Черкесский городской суд Карачаево-Черкесской Республики
Judge:
Науруз Шукуров
Background