Yuriy Yakovlev, May 2022

Unjust Verdicts

Court of Appeal in Krasnoyarsk Upheld the Verdict Against Yuriy Yakovlev. He was Given 6 Years and 2 Months in a Penal Colony for His Faith in Jehovah God

Krasnoyarsk Territory

Yuriy Yakovlev, a 57-year-old Jehovah's Witness from Sosnovoborsk, will go to a penal colony for holding peaceful meetings for worship and reading the Bible — following the appeal hearings in the Krasnoyarsk Territorial Court on May 21, 2024, the verdict entered into force.

In March 2023, Yakovlev was sentenced to 6 years and 2 months in a penal colony. He has been behind bars for over 2 years. Addressing the court of appeal, the believer said: "During the case, it was not identified what harm I caused and who suffered. The Bible says, "Love your neighbor." That's what I followed. I am ready to endure and suffer for my faith."

"The court of first instance relied only on evidence that I am a believer who practices the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses," Yuriy said in his appeal. As pointed out by the defense, during the trial, no extremist goals or motives were proven in the actions of the believer, and the verdict does not cite any extremist statements by Yakovlev.

To date, 31 Jehovah's Witnesses in the Krasnoyarsk Territory have faced criminal prosecution for their religious beliefs; 14 of them have already received sentences ranging from fines to lengthy suspended sentences and prison terms.

At the Plenum of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation on October 28, 2021, where explanations were given regarding crimes of an extremist nature, it was stated that believers can continue to jointly practice religion, perform worship services or other religious rites and ceremonies, if they do not contain signs of extremism (p. 20).

The Case of Yakovlev in Sosnovoborsk

Case History
In March 2022, the Investigative Committee initiated a criminal case against Yuriy Yakovlev, a resident of Sosnovoborsk. On the next day, the home of the believer was searched, and later he was arrested and placed in a pretrial detention center. The accusation was based on hidden audio recordings of meetings for worship and conversations with friends on Bible topics. The investigation considered such actions as “arranging online meetings”, “pastoral work” and “leading preaching activities” to be organizing the activity of an extremist organization. The investigation lasted 71 days. In June 2022, the case went to court. Although the trial only proved that Yakovlev was one of Jehovah's Witnesses, in March of the following year the believer was sentenced to 6 years and 2 months in a penal colony. In May 2024, the court of appeal upheld this verdict.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Krasnoyarsk Territory
Suspected of:
"General management of the organization, timing of meetings through online broadcasts, pastoral work, leadership of preaching activities"
Court case number:
March 28, 2022
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
SO of the Berezovsky District of the Main Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of Russia for the Krasnoyarsk Territory and the Republic of Khakassia
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-5/2023 (1-89/2022)
Court of First Instance:
Сосновоборский городской суд Красноярского края
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Анастасия Иванова
Case History