Illustrative photo

Actions of Law Enforcement Officers

A new wave of searches of Jehovah's Witnesses took place in Birobidzhan. Among them are the Postnikovs, who are serving a suspended sentence for their faith

Jewish Autonomous Area

Not less than ten people were searched as part of a raid on the homes of Jehovah's Witnesses in Birobidzhan and the village of Amurzet on February 6, 2024. At least two criminal cases have been initiated; one is being investigated by the investigative committee, the other by the FSB.

One of the believers, Anatoly Artamonov, is suspected of involving a local resident in the activities of a liquidated legal entity of Jehovah's Witnesses (Part 1.1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). From the search warrant it turned out that resident in question is a young man from the village of Amurzet, located 200 km from Birobidzhan.

The security forces also came to his family with a search. He had previously applied for alternative civilian service. Although the young man explained this by his personal beliefs based on the Bible, in response the military commissar indicated that "the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation recognized the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses as extremist and banned its activities in Russia in 2017."

Some of those searched in Birobidzhan were talking about the Bible with a local woman and her adult daughter. As it became known, they worked for security forces and secretly recorded conversations with believers.

Searches within the framework of the case being investigated by the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Khabarovsk Territory and the Jewish Autonomous Region were authorized by the Birobidzhan District Court. Law enforcement officers seized electronic devices, data disks, personal records and Bibles in different translations.

The search of the Postnikov family in Birobidzhan took about five hours, at which time a 72-year-old acquaintance came to visit them. The security forces seized her phone. Oleg, who is serving a suspended sentence for his faith, was threatened with tougher punishment, he was told to "prepare a bag." On February 9, an FSB investigator summoned the spouses for questioning.

In the Jewish Autonomous Region, 23 Jehovah's Witnesses have already been sentenced to various terms for their Christian beliefs.

Case of the Postnikovs in Birobidzhan

Case History
In May 2018, a special operation of the FSB with the participation of 150 security officials, codenamed “Judgement Day”, took place in Birobidzhan. As a result, at least 20 of Jehovah’s Witnesses became victims of criminal prosecution. Among them were Oleg and Agnessa Postnikov. The FSB accused the spouses of involvement in an extremist organization and participation in its activities. They signed a recognizance not to leave. The case went to court in July 2021. The charges against the believers were based on the testimony of police officer Zvereva and another resident of Birobidzhan, who pretended to be interested in the Bible. In April 2022, the court found the Postnikovs guilty and sentenced Oleg and Agnessa to 5.5 and 5 years of suspended sentence, respectively. The appeal overturned this decision and in October 2022 returned the case for a new trial, which resulted in a sentence of 5.5 and 4.5 years of suspended sentence. The second appeal upheld the verdict. In February 2024, another search took place at the Postnikovs’ home, but as part of a new raid by security forces on the homes of believers.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Jewish Autonomous Area
Suspected of:
According to the investigation, he "took an active part in conducting religious events for the study and dissemination of ... ideology"
Court case number:
February 12, 2020
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
UFSB of Russia in the Jewish Autonomous Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2), 282.2 (1.1)
Court case number:
1-39/2023 (1-718/2022)
Биробиджанский районный суд ЕАО
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Ольга Ключикова
Case History