Yevgeniy Bushev, while in custody, participates in the hearing via video conferencing. April 25, 2024

Unjust Verdicts

The Chelyabinsk Regional Court Reduced Yevgeniy Bushev's Term of Imprisonment in a Penal Colony From 7 to 6 Years

Chelyabinsk Region

On April 25, 2024, the Chelyabinsk Regional Court considered the appeal against the verdict of one of - Jehovah's Witnesses, Yevgeny Bushev, 50, and reduced his prison sentence from 7 to 6 years. The court deemed discussing the Bible to be "organizing the activity of an extremist organization."

In the appeal, the defense drew attention to the fact that the conclusions of the court of first instance did not correspond to the actual circumstances of the case. The prosecution did not mention specific extremist actions allegedly committed by the defendant. Also, the fact that the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation did not ban the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses was not taken into account, and the right to be a believer does not depend on the existence of a legal entity. In addition, no evidence was presented in court hearings that Bushev's actions or intentions were aimed at inciting hatred and enmity. Consequently, "as a result of a miscarriage of justice, the believer was convicted only for professing beliefs based on the Bible and peacefully practicing his Christian faith as one of Jehovah's Witnesses."

Yevgeniy manages to see friends via video. April 25, 2024
Yevgeniy manages to see friends via video. April 25, 2024
The court allowed 13 listeners to be present at the courtroom, who came to support the believer. April 25, 2024
The court allowed 13 listeners to be present at the courtroom, who came to support the believer. April 25, 2024

Before the verdict was announced in the Kalininskiy District Court of the city of Chelyabinsk, Yevgeny Bushev said in his final statement: "I find it very sad that the prosecutor, requesting punishment... has equated me with those who have committed premeditated murder, because such a term is appointed for a crime like that."

Human rights activists and scholars note that such an attitude towards citizens violates their basic right to freedom of conscience and religion. From 2017 to the present, Russian law enforcement officers have already prosecuted 804 people who are practicing the faith of Jehovah's Witnesses.

The Case of Bushev in Chelyabinsk

Case History
One September evening in 2022, Yevgeniy Bushev from Chelyabinsk was visiting a friend whose home was raided by security forces while he was there. As it turned out, the Investigative Committee suspected Yevgeniy of participating in the activity of an extremist organization, and a criminal case was initiated against him. The believer was taken to his home for it to be searched, and the next day he was placed under a recognizance agreement. Later, the charge was changed to a different article: organizing the activity of an extremist organization. According to investigator Aleksandr Chepenko, Bushev is guilty of extremism because he attended the meetings for worship of Jehovah’s Witnesses and talked with people about the Bible. Testimony against the believer was given by a National Guard officer, who feigned interest in the Bible. In August 2023, the court accepted the case materials for consideration, and two months later sentenced the believer to 7 years of imprisonment. In April 2024, the court of appeal reduced this term to 6 years in a penal colony.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Chelyabinsk Region
Suspected of:
"took deliberate active actions of an organizational nature aimed at continuing the illegal activities of a banned religious organization" (from the indictment)
Court case number:
August 24, 2022
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee for the Chelyabinsk Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
Court of First Instance:
Калининский районный суд Челябинска
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Антон Ерофеев
Case History