Unjust Verdicts

The Court in Zeya Sentenced Yevgeniy Sokolov to Three Years Suspended. The Man Defends his Beliefs in Two Courts

Amur Region

On May 29, 2024, Arina Fedorova, judge of the Zeya District Court of the Amur Region, sentenced Yevgeniy Sokolov, 48, to 3 years of suspended sentence. He was present at the last hearings via video conferencing, as he is simultaneously being tried in another criminal case in Voronezh—7400 kilometers from Zeya.

The court found the man guilty of participating in the activities of an extremist organization. The believer was also assigned a probationary period of 3 years with deprivation of the right to engage in activities related to leadership and participation in the activities of public organizations for 3 years and additional restriction of freedom for 10 months. The prosecutor requested a sentence of 3 years in a penal colony. The verdict has not entered into force.

The Zeya case was initiated in December 2022. The accusation was based on hidden audio and video recordings of worship services, which, at the direction of the FSB, were made by a woman who pretended to be interested in the Bible.

Speaking before the court, Sokolov said: "I am not acting against the constitutional foundations of the state, but rather, on the contrary, I am defending my constitutional right, which I am guaranteed—to profess the Christian religion together with others."

The Amur Region today holds the record for the number of Jehovah's Witnesses imprisoned in a penal colony—13 believers are already serving time for their peaceful beliefs.

The case of Sokolov in Zeya

Case History
In December 2022, the FSB opened a second criminal case against Yevgeniy Sokolov in Zeya for his religion. The first case was initiated two years earlier in Voronezh. Then the believer’s home was searched, and he spent almost 5 months in a pre-trial detention center. In Zeya, he was banned from certain actions. Sokolov was accused of participating in Jehovah’s Witnesses services, where believers discussed Bible teachings with friends. As it turned out, the woman, who pretended to be interested in the Bible, at the direction of an FSB officer, kept hidden audio-video recordings of worship services. The prosecutor requested a sentence of 3 years in a penal colony for the believer. In May 2024, the court gave him a 3-year suspended sentence.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Amur Region
Locality:
Zeya
Suspected of:
"carried out the preparation and conduct of religious meetings"
Court case number:
12207100001000065
Initiated:
December 15, 2022
Current case stage:
verdict did not take effect
Investigating:
Branch of the Federal Security Service of Russia in the Amur Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1), 282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-83/2024
Court of First Instance:
Зейский районный суд Амурской области
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Арина Федорова
Case History