Unjust Verdicts

The Verdict Against Three Believers in Oryol Came Into Force After an Appeal. They Will Remain Behind Bars

Oryol Region

On April 8, 2024, a panel of judges of the Oryol Regional Court, chaired by Judge Yuliya Orlovskaya, approved six years in prison for the faith of Piskarev, Melnik and Putintsev. Taking into account the 3 years and 4 months spent in pre-trial detention before the verdict came into force, they may be released in April 2025.

The accusation of organizing the activities of an extremist organization and participating in it was based on audio recordings of a biblical speech that Piskarev rehearsed aloud in his apartment. As a result, on October 13, 2023, the judge of the Sovetskiy District Court of the city of Oryol, Natalya Tishkova, found the three believers guilty.

Pensioner Vladimir Piskarev is experiencing particular difficulties in prison—he had a stroke in the pre-trial detention center and hypertensive crises were recorded twice. In his last plea, he emphasized: "All the accusations that are in the indictment do not correspond to reality, as evidenced by the facts from the criminal case, from the examinations, as well as from the words of prosecution witnesses." Among other things, it was established that his religion was not prohibited by law, he did not incite religious hatred and never promoted the superiority of Jehovah's Witnesses.

Eight Jehovah's Witnesses have already been prosecuted in the Oryol Region, including Dennis Christensen, the first Jehovah's Witness in modern Russia who ended up behind bars only because of his faith.

Case of Piskarev and Others in Oryol

Case History
Since 2009, Vladimir Melnik, a father of many children from Oryol, has been recording the facts of pressure, threats and provocations from the FSB. In December 2020, he was invaded by armed security forces. Vladimir Piskarev and Artur Putintsev were also detained. The believers were placed in a pre-trial detention center, and their names were added to the Rosfinmonitoring list. In January 2022, the case went to court. During the hearings, it became clear that a hidden wiretapping was installed in Piskarev’s apartment, from which audio recordings formed the basis of the charges. In the pre-trial detention center, his health began to deteriorate—he suffered a stroke and more than one hypertensive crisis. Nevertheless, the preventive measure was not mitigated either for him, or for Melnik, or for Putintsev. In October 2023, the court sentenced the three believers to 6 years in a penal colony. In March 2024, a court of appeal upheld the verdict.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Oryol Region
Court case number:
December 8, 2020
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigative Directorate for the Sovetsky District of the City of Oryol of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of Russia for the Oryol Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2), 282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-16/2023 (1-123/2022)
Советский районный суд г. Орла
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Наталья Тишкова
Case History