Sergey Yuferov, Vladimir Bukin, Valeriy Slashchev and Mikhail Burkov near the Tyndinskiy District Court of the Amur Region. June, 2023

Unjust Verdicts

Court of Cassation in Vladivostok Upheld the Sentence of Four Believers from Tynda

Amur Region

On May 14, 2024, the Ninth Court of Cassation of General Jurisdiction in Vladivostok confirmed the sentence of four Jehovah's Witnesses. Vladimir Bukin, Valeriy Slashchev and Sergey Yuferov will continue to serve their prison sentences of 6 years and 4 months, and Mikhail Burkov — 6 years and 2 months.

The case of the believers from Tynda was considered twice — the first verdict was overturned by the court of appeal, but later the Tyndinskiy District Court of the Amur Region nevertheless found them guilty and sentenced them to imprisonment. This decision was upheld by the court of appeal. In their cassation appeal, the believers drew attention to them being named as guilty in the verdict only for participating in meetings for worship, preaching the religious teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses, engouraging others to continue following the beliefs and studying the religious literature of Jehovah's Witnesses.

According to the believers, the court of first instance was unable to determine what exactly they were guilty of: "Not a single piece of evidence was presented to the court showing that the actions [of the convicted persons] were of a socially dangerous nature and caused harm to legal relations protected by law, or that [the convicted persons] had a motive for inciting hatred and enmity." "Peaceful conversations about God in the circle of fellow believers or with other people without calls for violence, discrimination and degrading treatment of any social group cannot have such a degree of public danger," they stressed.

The authorities of the Amur Region continue to prosecute Jehovah's Witnesses: already 24 people aged 30 to 82 have become defendants in criminal cases for their religious views.

Case of Bukin and Others in Tynda

Case History
In 2018, in the city of Tynda, FSB agent Nurakov, feigning an interest in the Bible, began attending services of Jehovah’s Witnesses and collecting information about them. In November 2019, a criminal case was initiated against Sergey Yuferov, Valery Slashchev, Mikhail Burkov and Vladimir Bukin. A wave of searches took place in the city. The men were accused of organizing the activities of an extremist organization and being involved in it. In June 2021, the case went to court. A year and a half later, the believers were sentenced to 6 years and 2 months to 6.5 years in prison. In December 2022, the appeal overturned the verdict and sent the case for a new trial, and the believers were released from the pre-trial detention center, where they spent 2 months each. In June 2023, they were again sentenced to a colony: Bukin, Slashchev and Yuferov were given 6 years and 4 months each, and Burkov was given 6 years and 2 months. A second appeal in August 2023 upheld this decision. In May 2024, the Court of Cassation definitively upheld the sentence for all four Jehovah’s Witnesses from Tynda.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Amur Region
Locality:
Tynda
Suspected of:
по версии следствия, «организовали собрания последователей... религиозных организаций»
Court case number:
11907100001000076
Initiated:
November 11, 2019
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigating:
СО УФСБ России по Амурской области
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1), 282.2 (1.1)
Court case number:
1-45/2023 (1-9/2022; 1-131/2021)
Court of First Instance:
Тындинский районный суд Амурской области
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Валентина Брикова
Case History