Updated: December 8, 2023
Name: Avanesov Vilen Shagenovich
Date of Birth: October 22, 1952
Current status: convicted person
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation: 282.2 (1)
Time spent in prison: 4 day in a temporary detention facility, 925 day in a pre-trial detention, 733 day in prison
Sentence: punishment in the form of imprisonment for a term of 6 years in a correctional colony of general regime, with deprivation of the right to engage in activities related to participation in public organizations for a period of 5 years and with restriction of liberty for a period of 1 year
Currently held in: Penal Colony No. 3 in Ulyanovsk Region
Address for correspondence: Avanesov Vilen Shagenovich, born 1952, IK No 3 in Ulyanovsk Region, ul. Osypenko, 22, g. Dimitrovgrad, Ulyanovsk Region, Russia 433502

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In July 2021, the court sentenced Vilen Avanesov to 6 years in prison for believing in Jehovah God, and his son Arsen to 6.5 years in prison. The believers were found guilty of extremism because they read and discussed the Bible with friends.

Vilen was born in 1952 in Baku (Azerbaijan). He worked as an electrician and builder, now retired. Since childhood, Vilen is fond of cooking, loves to bake homemade bread. Another of Vilen's hobbies is reading. One of his favorite books from a young age was the Bible.

In 1980, Vilen married Stella, they had a son, Arsen, and a daughter, Elina. Due to the conflict in Nagorny Karabakh in 1988, the family was forced to leave their home and move to Armenia as refugees. But the earthquake in Yerevan in the same year and the deteriorating financial situation forced the family to move again. This time, the place of residence was the Russian Rostov-on-Don. Vilen had to start everything from scratch, because he lost his home first in Baku and then in Yerevan.

The whole big family of Vilen is worried about the fact that they and Arsen were convicted. Vilen is in poor health. “Vilen and prison are incomparable things,— says his wife.— Vilen is the kindest person. This is how all his family and friends know him."

Case history

Searches, arrests, humiliation and intimidation are what Vilen and Arsen Avanesov and Alexandr Parkov had to face for their faith in God. In May 2019, peaceful citizens from Rostov were detained by officers of the Investigative Committee: the believers allegedly continued the activity of the banned local organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They were placed in a detention center and not released from custody, although Alexandr and Vilen were at risk during the pandemic. The charge against the believers was based on falsifications, as well as the testimony of an informer recruited by the FSB. In July 2021, the court sentenced Vilen to 6 years in a penal colony, and Alexandr and Arsen to 6.5 years. The court of appeal upheld this decision. Six months later, the court of cassation upheld the sentences for Vilen and Alexandr, and Arsen was charged with another article — sponsoring the activity of an extremist organization, regarding which the case was sent for retrial. In the appeal hearing, Arsen Avanesov’s sentence was extended by six months — to a total of 7 years.