Yelena Chernykh on the day of the appeal hearing

Unjust Verdicts

Court of Appeal Upholds the Verdict Against Yelena Chernykh from Prokopyevsk for her Faith - a 3-Year Suspended Sentence

Kemerovo Region

On June 11, 2024, the sentence for Yelena Chernykh, one of Jehovah's Witnesses from Prokopyevsk, entered into the legal force. The panel of judges of the Kemerovo Regional Court agreed with the 3-year suspended sentence imposed on her but removed from the additional punishment the deprivation of the right to participate in public and religious associations.

"The court has not established that I have any motives of religious hatred or enmity. All my actions were completely peaceful," said the believer, 47, as she appealed. "I believe in God, talk to others about the Bible, share my beliefs with them, pray to Jehovah God and sing songs of praise to him." Yelena concluded that she was convicted for practicing her faith in the way common to Jehovah's Witnesses and not for any extremist actions.

Throughout the investigation, Yelena and her husband, Yuriy, were not left without help from their fellow believers. She said: "From the very first day I have felt the prayerful support of my dear friends. It is also very nice to see how they come to the court hearings even from other cities."

In Russia, 190 women have already been prosecuted for their faith in Jehovah; the oldest of them was 89 (Rimma Vashchenko) when the criminal case was initiated, the youngest was 18 (Darya Dulova).

The Case of Yelena Chernykh in Prokopyevsk

Case History
In 2020, as part of the case against Andrey Vlasov, searches were carried out in the homes of Jehovah's Witnesses in Prokopyevsk, among them was the couple Yuriy and Yelena Chernykh, parents of a minor son. In May 2023, a criminal case was initiated against unidentified persons. Three months later, Yelena was charged with extremism for carrying out "joint worship … based on the Holy Scriptures (the Bible)." She was made to sign a recognizance agreement. The case went to court in September 2023. Yelena was given a 3-year suspended sentence in April 2024. The court of appeal upheld this decision.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Kemerovo Region
Suspected of:
"carried out joint worship with other adherents, based on the Holy Scriptures (Bible), teaching religion, supporting the main forms of activity in the form of worship"
Court case number:
May 25, 2023
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Department of Internal Affairs of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in the city of Prokopyevsk of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in the Kemerovo Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-26/2024 (1-343/2023;)
Court of First Instance:
Центральный районный суд г. Прокопьевска Кемеровской области
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Елена Карамова
Case History