The Postnikov couple with their friends, July 2, 2024

Unjust Verdicts

After 3 Years of Legal Proceedings, Court of Cassation Finally Upheld the Verdict Against the Postnikov Couple. They Received Suspended Sentences for Peaceful Conversations About God

Jewish Autonomous Area

Following two trials and two appeals, the case of the Postnikov couple reached the court of cassation. On July 2, 2024, the Ninth Cassation Court of General Jurisdiction in Vladivostok upheld the verdict of 5.5 and 4.5 years suspended sentences.

In their cassation appeal, the Postnikov couple stated: "The courts have replaced the concept of the doctrine of the Christian denomination of Jehovah's Witnesses, with the 'doctrine' of the liquidated organizations, the practice of which, the courts regarded as a continuation of the activity of these legal entities."

Oleg Postnikov, speaking before the court of cassation, said: "There was no extremism in our actions.Christian love motivated me and my wife to visit L.P. Kabak and talk to her about spiritual topics. This woman asked us for help to better understand the Bible. After all, the Bible foretells that a wonderful future awaits mankind... Love and the desire to do good to others are our true motives."

In 1985, faith in Jehovah God helped the convicted Postnikov to change and became a Christian. Agnessa decided to become one of Jehovah's Witnesses back in 1979. The couple's lawyer noted: "They practiced and spread their faith, guided by Article 28 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation both before 1991 and after 2017, that is, long before the creation and liquidation of legal entities which they are accused of participating in."

The Postnikovs do not concentrate on their difficulties, while serving their suspended term. Oleg said: "Reflecting on those who have shown faith and courage, helps me to develop faith and courage. I try to imagine in detail the circumstances of the people mentioned in the Bible and the brothers and sisters who, in our time, have endured and continue to endure persecution." Agnessa said: "I always pray for my brothers and sisters, as well as their families. I like to read the biographies of fellow believers, it helps me to feel love for them and write letters of support."

In February 2024, the FSB again raided the homes of Jehovah's Witnesses in Birobidzhan and the village of Amurzet. The number of victims again included the Postnikov couple. Oleg was threatened with tougher punishment.

In the court hearing, the lawyer emphasized: "The Russian Federation officially, publicly and consistently declares that the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of April 20, 2017 did not impose a ban on either the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses or the ways in which this religion is practiced." However, persecution of peaceful believers continues.

The Case of the Postnikovs in Birobidzhan

Case History
In May 2018, a special operation of the FSB with the participation of 150 security officials, codenamed “Judgement Day”, took place in Birobidzhan. As a result, at least 20 of Jehovah’s Witnesses became victims of criminal prosecution. Among them were Oleg and Agnessa Postnikov. The FSB accused them of participating in the activity of an extremist organization and involving others in it. The couple signed a recognizance agreement. The case went to court in June 2021. The charges against the believers were based on the testimony of police officer Zvereva and another resident of Birobidzhan, who pretended to be interested in the Bible. In April 2022, the court gave Oleg and Agnessa suspended sentences of 5.5 and 5 years, respectively. The court of appeal overturned this decision and in October 2022 returned the case for a new trial, which resulted in suspended sentences of 5.5 and 4.5 years. Another court of appeal upheld the verdict. In February 2024, another search took place at the Postnikovs’ home, but as part of a new raid by security forces on the homes of believers. In July 2024, the court of cassation approved the appeal decision.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Jewish Autonomous Area
Locality:
Birobidzhan
Suspected of:
According to the investigation, he "took an active part in conducting religious events for the study and dissemination of ... ideology"
Court case number:
12007990001000009
Initiated:
February 12, 2020
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigating:
UFSB of Russia in the Jewish Autonomous Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2), 282.2 (1.1)
Court case number:
1-39/2023 (1-718/2022)
Court:
Биробиджанский районный суд ЕАО
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Ольга Ключикова
Case History