Alam Aliyev

Inside Penal Colonies and Detention Centers

Convicted 61-year-old Jehovah's Witness is Regularly Sent to the Punishment Cell Despite Serious Health Problems

Amur Region,   Jewish Autonomous Area

Alam Aliyev, one of Jehovah's Witnesses sentenced to 6.5 years in a penal colony for his faith, spent 28 days in the punishment cell of Penal Colony No.8 in the Amur Region. The conditions of detention there are not suitable for Aliyev's health – he has diabetes, kidney disease, heart problems and neurological disorders.

Simply put, a punishment cell (SHIZO) is a "prison within a prison". The prisoner's rights are significantly restricted, for example, he is forbidden to lie down during the day, visits and telephone conversations are prohibited and there are restrictions on receiving parcels.

"Not only are Jehovah's Witnesses unjustly thrown into penal colonies, but life there is made even more difficult for them by fabricating violations. "Violations worthy of isolation" can be, for example, an unfastened button, the absence of a tag with the prisoner's name on the cabinet. Sometimes imprisoned Jehovah's Witnesses do not even know what violations are imputed to them. They are simply sent to a punishment cell," explained Yaroslav Sivulskiy, a representative of the European Association of Jehovah's Witnesses.

Alam Aliyev suffers from severe headaches, but during his detention in the punishment cell he was not provided with proper medical care and was not even given painkillers. On the contrary, the staff of the institution drew up a report on Aliyev and reprimanded him for putting his head on the table during a pain attack.

According to the believer's relatives, Alam did not have drinkable water in the punishment cell: "One glass of sweet tea three times a day was all that was available to him, despite the fact that he suffers from diabetes."

So far, during his imprisonment, the administration of the colony has already placed Aliyev in the punishment cell 4 times for a total of 45 days. The last time was from April 11 to May 8, 2024.

The Case of Aliyev and Others in Birobidzhan

Case History
In May 2018, in the city of Birobidzhan a special FSB operation with the participation of 150 security officials, code-named "Judgement Day", took place. More than 20 families of Jehovah's Witnesses have become victims of criminal prosecution, including Alam Aliyev,Valeriy Kriger, Sergey Shulyarenko, and Dmitriy Zagulin. The believers were charged with holding meetings for worship, which the investigation deemed to be the organizing the activity of an extremist organization and financing it. They spent more than 5 months in pretrial detention. In November 2020, the case went to court. The hearings lasted more than 2 years, and in December 2022, the court sentenced Zagulin to 3 years and 6 months, Aliyev to 6 years and 6 months, and Shulyarenko and Kriger to 7 years in a penal colony. The court of appeal confirmed the terms of Zagulin and Aliyev, and reduced those of Shulyarenko and Krieger by 3 months. The court of cassation upheld the verdict in March 2024. The wives of three of the convicts were also prosecuted: Svetlana Monis, Tatyana Zagulina and Natalya Kriger. In September 2023, Sergey Shulyarenko's wedding took place in the penal colony.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Jewish Autonomous Area
Suspected of:
according to the investigation he together with others conducted religious services, which is interpreted as “organising the activity of an extremist organisation” (with reference to the decision of the Russian Supreme Court on the liquidation of all 396 registered organisations of Jehovah’s Witnesses)
Court case number:
May 14, 2018
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigative Department of the Directorate of the FSB of Russia for the Jewish Autonomous Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1), 282.3 (1)
Court case number:
№ 1-8/2022 (1-65/2021; 1-609/2020)
Биробиджанский районный суд ЕАО
Яна Владимирова
Case History