Yelena and Sergey Chechulin

Unjust Verdicts

Court of Appeal Upholds the Guilty Verdict Against a Jehovah's Witness Couple from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy

Kamchatka Territory

On June 25, 2024, the Kamchatka Regional Court upheld the verdict of the court of first instance against Yelena and Sergey Chechulin: 2-year suspended sentence for participating in the activity of an "extremist" organization.

The believers do not agree with the decisions of the courts. Yelena Chechulina noted in her appeal: "The court did not establish the presence of motives of religious hatred or enmity in my actions, and it did not establish against which specific social group I acted. All my actions were completely peaceful." She added: "The law does not consider practicing the religion to which the liquidated religious associations belonged, including together with others, a sign of extremism. Therefore, declaring a legal entity extremist is not tantamount to imposing a ban on a religious denomination with its inherent teachings, spiritual terminology, and the procedure for holding meetings for worship."

The state prosecutor Khramova requested that the court of appeal toughen the punishment and increase it to a 6-year suspended sentence "in connection with the aggravating circumstance that the crime was committed by a group of persons by prior conspiracy" — this is how Khramova regarded reading the Bible together with other believers.

Due to the guilty verdict, the Chechulins are deprived of the opportunity to travel outside the Kamchatka Territory. Their car has been seized, their accounts have been blocked and they cannot make their monthly mortgage payment themselves.

The authorities of the Kamchatka Territory continue the religious persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses: to date, 10 believers have suffered from the judicial system because of their peaceful beliefs.

The Case of the Chechulins in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy

Case History
Sergey Chechulin and his wife Yelena became defendants in yet another criminal case against Jehovah’s Witnesses in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy. In September 2022, the Investigative Committee initiated a case against them on suspicion of organizing the activity of an extremist organization. A month later, their home was searched, and the couple was placed under a recognizance agreement. In November 2023, the case went to court, where the charge was reclassified as participating in the activity of an extremist organization. The prosecutor requested 6 years in a penal colony for the Chechulins. In April 2024, they were each given a 2-year suspended sentence, a 3-year probation period and additional restrictions of 6 months. In June 2024, the Court of Appeal upheld this decision.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Kamchatka Territory
Suspected of:
in "convening meetings, organizing collective religious speeches and services, in accordance with the ideology of the religious association of Jehovah's Witnesses at these meetings ... Conducted routine training with other persons on the postulates of the religious association "Jehovah's Witnesses"" (from the decision to initiate a criminal case)
Court case number:
September 25, 2022
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Kamchatka Territory
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-70/2024 (1-997/2023)
Court of First Instance:
Петропавловск-Камчатский городской суд
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Иван Пантяшин
Case History