Viktor Stashevskiy in the courtroom

Inside Penal Colonies and Detention Centers

From Penal Colony to Prison: Court of Appeal Upheld the Decision to Toughen the Punishment for Jehovah's Witness Viktor Stashevskiy


On June 24, 2024, the Krasnodar Regional Court upheld the decision to transfer Viktor Stashevskiy from the penal colony to a prison. He became the first convicted Jehovah's Witness to serve his sentence under such conditions.

Viktor Stashevskiy is a former sailor of the Northern Fleet of Russia. In 2019, he faced prosecution because of his religion and was sentenced to 6.5 years in a penal colony. He was sent to penal colony No.9 in the Krasnodar Territory.

The administration of the penal colony, for far-fetched reasons, regularly imposed penalties on him, some of which he did not even know about. These penalties became the formality for keeping Viktor in strict conditions, where he spent a large portion of his term.

Now the believer will go to prison for 3 years to serve the rest of his sentence. Prison conditions are more stringent and allow less freedom of movement.

"A highly moral, law-abiding person is not only imprisoned for crimes he did not commit, but also suffers from toughened conditions of detention simply because he ended up in a penal colony, where the administration is biased against Jehovah's Witnesses as a group," said Yaroslav Sivulskiy, a representative of the European Association of Jehovah's Witnesses.

The Case of Stashevskiy in Sevastopol

Case History
In May 2019, an FSB investigator initiated a criminal case against Viktor Stashevskiy for organizing the activity of an extremist organization. He was charged with "propagating the ideas of Jehovah's Witnesses, holding meetings, and giving religious talks." The case included the testimony of a secret witness. After 8 months, the hearings started over because of the judge's resignation. In March 2021, the court sentenced Stashevskiy to 6.5 years in a penal colony. The court of appeal upheld the verdict. Since September 2021, the believer has been in penal colony No.9 of the Krasnodar Territory. There, Stashevskiy was accused of maliciously violating the rules due to numerous penalties, most of which he did not even know about. In May 2024, the court ruled to change the type of correctional institution for the believer to a prison for a period of 3 years. In June, the court of appeal upheld this ruling.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Suspected of:
According to the investigation he continued the activities and propagandized Jehovah’s Witnesses’ ideas, conducted meetings and carried out religious speeches
Court case number:
May 31, 2019
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigation Office of Russian Federal Security Office for the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-23/2021 (1-165/2020)
Гагаринский районный суд г. Севастополя
Павел Крылло
Case History