Unjust Verdicts

Three Jehovah's Witnesses from Novocherkassk Sentenced to Up to 6.5 Years in a Penal Colony for Their Beliefs

Rostov Region

On June 26, 2024, Nikolay Yegorov, judge of the Novocherkassk City Court of the Rostov Region, sentenced Lubov Galitsina to 2 years and 3 months, Gevorg Yeritsyan to 6 years and 2 months, and Garegin Khachaturyan to 6.5 years in a penal colony. The court considered the term given to Galitsina to have already been served: she will remain at large.

In August 2022, V.V. Bardakov, the investigator for the Investigative Committee, initiated a criminal case against three believers. The men were accused of organizing the activity of an extremist organization, and the woman was accused of participating in it. On the same day, their homes were searched. All three were interrogated and detained. The law enforcement officers considered the meetings for worship, which were held using the Zoom program, to be a continuation of the activity of the local religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses in the city of Novocherkassk banned by the RF Supreme Court in 2017. Khachaturyan and Yeritsyan spent almost 2 years in a pretrial detention center, and Galitsina was in detention for more than a year, after which she was released under house arrest.

In the pretrial detention center, her diabetes and hypertension worsened and her vision and hearing also deteriorated. The believer repeatedly requested the administration of the institution to have a medical examination, but for a long time she was refused. And then, when the doctor arrived, the staff of the institution did not let them see her. In the end, Lubov was visited by a representative of the Ministry of Health, who carried out an examination in the detention center conditions.

The believers are grateful to friends and relatives for their support. They were especially encouraged when they came and even traveled from other cities to court hearings. They were also strengthened by letters from fellow believers from all over the world.

Speaking at one of the court hearings, Lubov Galitsyna, 68, noted: "Disobedience to the laws of the state is a protest against God himself, which is completely unacceptable for me as a believer." Gevorg Yeritsyan, 37, said: "The basis of my faith is love." Garegin Khachaturyan, 56, cited the words of Jesus Christ: "Love even your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Then he said, "For me, these are not just words, but a guide to action — in the family, in society, with neighbors."

In the Rostov Region, 18 Jehovah's Witnesses have been convicted for their faith, 10 of them are serving their sentences in penal colonies.

The Case of Yeritsyan and Others in Novocherkassk

Case History
One early morning in August 2022, the homes of some local Jehovah’s Witnesses were searched in Novocherkassk and the village of Grushevskaya. Half an hour before the start of the searches, the Investigative Committee initiated a criminal case against Gevorg Yeritsyan, Garegin Khachaturyan and Lubov Galitsyna on charges of extremism. The men were interrogated and placed in a pretrial detention center. A few days later, Lubov also ended up behind bars. She spent more than a year in a pretrial detention center, after which she was released under house arrest. Hearings in the case began in September 2023. In June 2024, the court announced the verdict: Lubov Galitsyna – 2 years and 3 months, Gevorg Yeritsyan – 6 years and 2 months, and Garegin Khachaturyan – 6.5 years imprisonment for practicing their faith. The court concidered the term given to Galitsina to have already been served.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Rostov Region
Court case number:
August 11, 2022
Current case stage:
verdict did not take effect
Novocherkassk Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Rostov Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2), 282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-28/2024 (1-451/2023)
Court of First Instance:
Новочеркасский городской суд Ростовской области
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Николай Егоров
Case History