Denis Antonov and Aleksandr Korolev with their wives, June 14, 2024

Served Sentences

Aleksandr Korolev and Denis Antonov Released From Penal Colony in Mordovia After Fully Serving Their Sentences for Their Faith

Mordovia

On June 14, 2024, two Jehovah's Witnesses, Aleksandr Korolev, 45, and Denis Antonov, 47, were released from penal colony No.12 in Mordovia. They were happily met by relatives and friends.

The court sentenced the men to 2.5 years imprisonment in August 2022. They spent about 5 months in a pretrial detention center and 1 year and 5 months in a penal colony. Taking into account their pretrial detention, they fully served their sentence for their faith. In the penal colony, Korolev was sent to a punishment cell three times.

Released believers with friends and family, June 14, 2024
Released believers with friends and family, June 14, 2024
Olga and Denis Antonov when he was released, June 14, 2024
Olga and Denis Antonov when he was released, June 14, 2024
Denis and Olga Antonov on the day of his release, June 14, 2024
Denis and Olga Antonov on the day of his release, June 14, 2024
Natalia Koroleva meets Aleksandr as he leaves the penal colony, June 14, 2024
Natalia Koroleva meets Aleksandr as he leaves the penal colony, June 14, 2024
Aleksandr and Natalia Korolev on the day of his release, June 14, 2024
Aleksandr and Natalia Korolev on the day of his release, June 14, 2024

A criminal case against Korolev and Antonov was initiated in March 2019. Due to the criminal prosecution and his imprisonment, Denis Antonov lost his business. He was also providing for the elderly mother of Olga, his wife. All this time, Denis and his family were supported by fellow believers. "My wife and I have everything we need and even more," Denis Antonov said during the trial.

In this criminal case, three more believers remain in custody: Georgiy Nikulin and his wife Yelena, as well as Vladimir Atryakhin. Yelena has to serve another 2 years and 2 months of her sentence, Georgiy — 1 year and 7 months, and Vladimir — 3 years and 9 months.

In total, 9 people have already been subjected to religious persecution in Mordovia.

The Case of Shevchuk and others in Saransk

Case History
In February 2019, in Saransk, the FSB initiated a criminal case against three believers on suspicion of extremism. After mass searches, Vladimir Atryakhin, the father of two young children, as well as Aleksandr Shevchuk and Georgiy Nikulin ended up in a pretrial detention center, where they spent between 2 and 5 months. Later, three more defendants appeared in the case — Aleksandr Korolev, Yelena Nikulina and Denis Antonov. The case went to court in May 2021. The defense managed to show the court several times that the unveiled secret witness Vlasov was giving false testimony. In August 2022, the believers were convicted: Vladimir Atryakhin was sentenced to 6 years, Georgiy and Yelena Nikulin — 4 years and 2 months, and Aleksandr Shevchuk, Aleksandr Korolev and Denis Antonov — 2 years in a penal colony. The court of appeal upheld the verdict. In November 2023, Shevchuk was released from the penal colony, and in June 2024, Korolev and Antonov were released.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Mordovia
Locality:
Saransk
Suspected of:
according to the investigation, they "disseminated ideology and faith among the citizens of the Republic of Mordovia… by conducting convers​ations with citizens of Saransk and other population centers" 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:
11907890001000003
Initiated:
February 4, 2019
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigating:
Investigative Department of the Directorate of the FSB of Russia for the Republic of Mordovia
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2), 282.2 (1), 282.2 (1.1)
Court case number:
1-13/2022 (1-216/2021)
Court:
Ленинский районный суд г. Саранска
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Елена Симонова
Case History