Russian judge gives proper legal assessment of bias against Jehovah's Witnesses


It will be considered by a court of a new composition.

Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, 19 September 2019


On 9 September 2019, the Kaluga oblast court granted the appeal of Dmitry Kuzin against his measure of restriction and it quashed the decision of the court of the prior instance because of gross violations and a prejudicial attitude on the part of the judge. The case was remanded for review with a change of the judge and the believer may leave the SIZO in four days.


On 26 June 2019, a criminal case was opened against Kaluga resident Dmitry Kuzin based on part 1 of article 282.2 of the CC RF (arranging the activity of an extremist organization) in connection with his religious confession as a Jehovah's Witness. He was placed in custody. On 19 August an investigator sent to a Kaluga district court a petition for extending the term of Kuzin's detention in custody for yet another two months. On 26 August, a district court granted this petition and the defendant appealed its decision in oblast court.


Judge Svetlana Anatolievna Prokofieva of the Kaluga oblast court reviewed this appeal on 9 September and ordered to quash the decision of the district court of 26 August and to reduce the term of Kuzin's detention in custody to 23 September and to remand the petition of the senior investigator of the investigation department of the directorate of the Russian F.S.B. for a new review in the same court, but with a different composition,.


Although the believe remains in custody, albeit for a shortened term, an important result of the appeal was the acknowledgment of "substantive violation of the criminal procedural law," according to the text of the order. Thus Judge Prokofieva called attention to the fact that the lower court did not permit the believers to defend himself by citing his own religious convictions and it actually demeaned him.


After studying the protocol of the previous ruling, the judge of the oblast court pointed out the phrase of the judge of the lower court addressed to Kuzin: "You are not a prisoner of conscience and you have nothing to do with the first Christians. You should not speculate on this and you are not going to be summoned to gladiator fights. Indeed, as a follower of Jehovah you also provoke many questions." Judge Prokofieva noted in her conclusion: "With such information, it is impossible to speak of the objectivity of the presiding judge." She concluded that this is evidence of the interest of the presiding judge in the outcome of the case and of the illegality of the composition of the court.


As a result, the petition for the extension of Kuzin's detention in custody must be sent to a Kaluga district court of a new composition for review. The believer is pleased that, although it is on a case by case basis, prejudice against Jehovah's Witnesses in Russian courts is getting the proper legal evaluation. (tr. by PDS, posted 19 September 2019)

Background articles:
Actions against Jehovah's Witnesses in Kaluga
June 30, 2019
Believer subjected to inhumane treatment in F.S.B. building in Kaluga
July 5, 2019

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