On the day of Valeriy’s sentencing, relatives and friends came to support him. July 2024

Unjust Verdicts

After a Retrial of the Case, the Court in Knyaze-Volkonskoye Sentences One of Jehovah's Witnesses Valeriy Rabota to 6 Years Suspended for Talking About the Bible

Khabarovsk Territory

After a year and three months of legal proceedings, Valeriy Rabota, 62, received a suspended sentence. On June 10, 2024, Maria Luzhbina, judge of the Khabarovsk District Court, equated participating in peaceful meetings for worship to extremism.

The Investigative Committee initiated a criminal case against the believer in the spring of 2022. During this time, he spent 2 days in a temporary detention facility, 116 days in a pretrial detention center and 100 days under house arrest. During the months spent in detention, Valeriy's chronic illnesses worsened. Later, while under house arrest, he suffered a stroke. The case went to court in March 2023. Eight months later, at the final stage of the trial, Judge Angelina Sviderskaya recused herself and the hearings started over.

Valeriy Rabota was charged with participating in the activity of an extremist organization and involving others in it. However, the linguistic expert study indicates that the believer did not encourage extremist actions, but only "the reading and studying the material under discussion." This point was emphasized by the lawyer: "My client is being tried solely for the ways he expresses his faith... Actions related to participation in religious meetings for worship with fellow believers and the dissemination of one's beliefs are based not only on the RF Constitution, but also on the Bible – the source of moral norms and natural law."

FSB officer Stanislav Martyn, who feigned an interest in the Bible to collect information about believers, during interrogation denied that Rabota had persuaded him to join the activity of any organization. The witnesses for the prosecution spoke positively about Valeriy. One of the interrogated, an FSB officer associated with the believer's case, stated that he "did not witness any crime on Valeriy's part." Some of the interrogated persons spoke of falsifications in their written testimonies and pressure from the investigation. The defense pointed out violations of the law by experts, for example, religious scholar M.B. Serdyuk assessed the actions of the believer from a legal point of view, going beyond the limits of her authority.

In the Khabarovsk Territory, authorities initiated 19 criminal cases against 41 Jehovah's Witnesses. One of the believers died under investigation, and courts have already passed sentences on 20 people.

The Case of Valeriy Rabota in Knyaze-Volkonskoye

Case History
In March 2022, the Investigative Committee initiated a criminal case under an article for extremism against Valeriy Rabota from the village of Knyaze-Volkonskoye. His house was searched, after that the believer was taken away for interrogation and placed in a temporary detention facility; two days later he ended up in a pretrial detention center for “unwillingness to cooperate” — to incriminate himself and fellow believers. In June 2022, despite the investigator’s demand to extend Valeriy’s detention, the judge eased the preventive measure, placing the believer under house arrest, where he suffered a stroke. In March 2023, the case went to court, and in November, the prosecutor requested that the believer be sent to a penal colony for 6 years. A month later, the judge recused herself, and the case was sent for a new trial with different judges. In June 2024, Valeriy was given a 6-year suspended sentence.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Khabarovsk Territory
Court case number:
March 1, 2022
Current case stage:
verdict did not take effect
Komsomolsk-on-Amur Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Khabarovsk Territory
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1.1), 282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-10/2024 (1-223/2023)
Court of First Instance:
Хабаровский районный суд Хабаровского края
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Мария Лужбина
Case History