Danil Suvorov participates in the appeal hearing via video-conferencing from the pre-trial detention center

Unjust Verdicts

Krasnodar Territory Court Upheld the Sentence to Danil Suvorov from Sochi for his Beliefs: 6 Years in Prison

Krasnodar Territory

On May 7, 2024, the Court of Appeal considered the complaint of Jehovah's Witness Danil Suvorov against the sentence for his faith. The panel of judges agreed that the 28-year-old believer is guilty of extremism and should serve his sentence of 6 years in a penal colony.

In June 2023, Yekaterina Ostapenko, judge of the Central District Court of Sochi, found Danil Suvorov guilty of committing crimes under Parts 1.1 and Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. By that time, the believer had spent almost two years in jail. Then for about a year he was behind bars awaiting an appeal.

The verdict of the first instance was based on the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of 20.04.2017 on the liquidation of legal entities of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, however, as emphasized in the appeal, this decision did not oblige individuals, including the defendant, to renounce their faith and stop worshiping God. Such actions as "participation in religious teaching and sermons", "lectures based on the religious literature of Jehovah's Witnesses", "conversations and religious discussions" are not prohibited by the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, but, on the contrary, are guaranteed by the Constitution of the Russian Federation as fundamental human rights and freedoms belonging to him from birth. In fact, Danil Suvorov was convicted only because he remained a believer after the liquidation of legal entities.

The defense also noted that the testimony of the Sochi expert Natalya Yedneralova and the examination conducted by her should not have been accepted as evidence of the defendant's guilt, since for a number of reasons she did not have the legal right to perform a comprehensive psychological, linguistic and religious examination: the expert does not work in a state, but in a private firm; does not have the necessary qualifications; Sole does not have the right to perform a comprehensive assessment, in this case the participation of a commission of experts is required.

In addition, the defense in the appeal referred to Article 14 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation: "Given the constitutional principle of separation of church and state, the law does not establish norms as to which forms of religion are correct and which are not. Therefore, in each religion they are different: for some religions it is visiting their temples and using certain attributes of faith, and for the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses it is a joint discussion of the Bible with people, whether at home or outdoors."

The persecution in the Krasnodar Territory has already affected 34 peaceful believers, including Danil's older brother, Denis Suvorov. Four of them, including a woman, are serving sentences in penal colonies just because they did not stop believing in God at the behest of the court.

The case of Danil Suvorov in Sochi

Case History
In August 2021, a wave of searches took place in Sochi as part of a criminal case against Danil Suvorov. He was detained and thrown behind bars. The believer was accused of involving a local resident (as it turned out later, an embedded informant) in the activities of an extremist organization. Six months later, the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee for the Krasnodar Territory opened a criminal case against Danil and his elder brother Denis. They were charged with two articles: participation in the activities of an extremist organization and involvement in it. In April 2022, Danil was indicted, and in May, the case went to court. In June 2023, the prosecutor requested 8 years in a penal colony for Danil. The court sentenced the believer to 6 years in prison. In May 2024, the appeal upheld this decision.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Krasnodar Territory
Suspected of:
According to the investigation, "using his authority as a spiritual leader of a follower of the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses in the territory of Sochi, Krasnodar Territory, he took active steps aimed at persuading, recruiting and otherwise involving ... in the activities of a banned extremist organization"
Court case number:
February 8, 2022
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigation Department for the Central District of Sochi of the Investigative Department of the Russian Federation for the Krasnodar Territory
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1.1), 282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-30/2023 (1-448/2022)
Court of First Instance:
Екатерина Остапенко
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Центральный районный суд г. Сочи
Case History