Sergey Parfenovich and Yuriy Gerashchenko in the courtroom, October 4, 2023

Unjust Verdicts

Another Guilty Verdict Against Jehovah's Witnesses in Crimea, One of the Convicted Persons Is a Father of Six


On July 1, 2024, Judge Valentin Shchukalskiy of the Krasnogvardeysky District Court of the Republic of Crimea convicted two Jehovah's Witnesses, Yuriy Gerashchenko and Sergey Parfenovich. The court gave them a 6-year suspended sentence with a probation period of 4 years.

The story of the prosecution of Gerashchenko and Parfenovich began back in 2022. In September, V.A. Novikov, investigator of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Republic of Crimea, initiated a criminal case against Sergey Parfenovich under the article on organizing the activity of an extremist organization. A few days later, a 6-hour search took place in Sergey's house. At the time, his minor daughter and his elderly disabled father, were in the house. Parfenovich was detained, placed in a pretrial detention center for 1.5 months, and then under house arrest. Six months later, in the same case, Yuriy Gerashchenko was charged under Article 282.2(1) of the RFCrC. He spent 269 days under house arrest and later was released under a ban on certain activities.

In July 2023, the case went to court. It took the judge a year to consider it. In his final statement, Sergey Parfenovich said: "The prosecution believes that worshiping Jehovah is extremism. I am in the dock for participating in meetings for worship. That is, in order for me to 'repent,' I need to give up worshiping Jehovah. I can't, and I don't want to do this!" He asked to be cleared of all charges and the label of an extremist. Yuriy Gerashchenko also disagrees with the decision. They can appeal the verdict to a higher court.

In Crimea, 11 of Jehovah's Witnesses have already been convicted for their faith.

The Case of Parfenovich and Gerashchenko in Krasnogvardeysky

Case History
In September 2022, armed security forces raided the family home of Sergey Parfenovich, father of six children. They searched the believer's house for 6 hours in the presence of his minor daughter and elderly disabled father. After that, Parfenovich was detained and taken to Simferopol for interrogation. He spent 2 days in a temporary detention facility and 1.5 months in a pretrial detention center, and then he was transferred to house arrest. The case was conducted by investigator V.A. Novikov, who also investigated the case of believers from Yalta. He charged Sergey with organizing the activity of an extremist organization. As part of this case, the same charge was brought against Yuriy Gerashchenko in March 2023. In July 2023, the case went to court. At the same time, the believers were placed under a ban on certain actions, but 2 weeks later they were again placed under house arrest. In December 2023, Gerashchenko was again placed under a ban on certain actions. On July 1, 2024, the court gave Sergey and Yuriy a 6-year suspended sentence.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Suspected of:
"acting intentionally ... committed active actions of an organizational nature ... expressed in the organization of propaganda meetings at which the texts and religious provisions of Jehovah's Witnesses were discussed" (from the decision on the election of a preventive measure in the form of detention)
Court case number:
September 19, 2022
Current case stage:
verdict did not take effect
Main Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-8/2024 (1-259/2023)
Court of First Instance:
Красногвардейский районный суд Республики Крым
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Валентин Шукальский
Case History