Updated: February 22, 2024
Name: Verhoturov Sergey Vitaliyevich
Date of Birth: December 9, 1974
Current status: who has served the main sentence
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation: 282.2 (1)
Time spent in prison: 1 day in a temporary detention facility
Sentence: punishment in the form of imprisonment for a term of 6 years, with deprivation of the right to engage in activities related to leadership and participation in the work of religious associations and organizations, for a term of 5 years, with restriction of liberty for a term of 2 years; The sentence of imprisonment is considered conditional, with a probationary period of 4 years


Sergey Verhoturov is one of the believers who became accused under an "extremist" article after mass searches in several settlements of the Nizhny Novgorod region. On March 5, 2021, the court found him guilty of organizing the activities of a banned community and sentenced the believer to 6 years of probation with a probationary period of 4 years only because of his faith in Jehovah God.

Sergey was born in 1974 in Baikalsk (Irkutsk region) and became the second child in a family where a 2-year-old daughter was already growing. The children were brought up in an atmosphere of love, their parents tried to give them a good education. Sergey loved sports, was engaged in the boxing section.

Immediately after school, the young man got a job and entered the correspondence department at the Bratsk State Technical University, where he graduated with a degree of an electrical engineer. He worked in the profession for 10 years. Then, having received a second higher education, Sergey got a job as a legal advisor at one of the industrial enterprises of the Irkutsk region. After moving to Nizhny Novgorod, he mastered several more professions, recently he worked as a master finisher in the construction industry.

The truths from the Bible touched Sergey as a child, when he heard them from a peer. However, in his youth, he saw the meaning of life in making money and spending it on entertainment. In the 90s, Sergey, like many people around him, became Orthodox. “At that moment I was ready to beat all sectarians, that is, all believers, but not Orthodox,” he says. Years later, a fundamental change in the lifestyle of a colleague and friend who began studying the Bible prompted him to reflect on what it means to be a Christian. Sergey thought: "Who is more like a true Christian - he or me?" He began to study the Bible and was amazed at the logic, simplicity, and beauty of the Bible's teachings.

In 2001, Sergey married Viktoria. After a while, the couple decided to move from Eastern Siberia to Nizhny Novgorod.

Sergey’s relatives do not share his beliefs, but all members of this large family are very worried about him. They are shocked that this "very good person", as they say, faced persecution just because of his faith.

Case history

In the summer of 2019, security forces in the Nizhny Novgorod region staged mass raids on local Jehovah’s Witnesses on the basis of their religion. One of them was Sergey Verkhoturov. A year earlier, his telephone conversations began to be tapped. In June 2019, an investigator of the Ministry of Internal Affairs opened a criminal case against the believer for organizing the activities of an extremist organization, after he found out that he had discussed texts from the Bible with friends. A few months later, Sergey’s wife, Victoria, was also accused of extremism for her faith. In September 2020, the court began considering the Verkhoturov case. The prosecutor requested 7 years in prison for the believer. In March 2021, the court sentenced him to 6 years of probation with a probation period of 4 years. The appeal, and then the cassation, upheld this verdict. In September 2023, Sergey was released on parole.