Prosecutor asks for longest term yet for Jehovah's Witness


Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, 9 July 2020


On 9 July 2020, the prosecutor demanded sentencing 34-year-old Evgeny Spirin to seven years in a penal colony, concluding without rational basis that religious conversations are extremism. Evgeny does not acknowledge himself to be guilty. On 14 July he will possibly speak out with his final word. Then the Furmanov city court may issue a verdict.


The F.S.B. for Ivanovo oblast opened a criminal case against Evgeny Spirin on 21 January 2019. Before that, intelligence agents had been observing the believer with the help of an under cover agent, a former police officer who feigned interest in the Bible. Evgeny was charged with reviving the activity of a forbidden religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses, inasmuch as he had not stopped participating in religious meetings of fellow believers.


On the first day of debates of the parties in Furmanov city court of Ivanovo oblast the prosecutor spoke. He concluded that Evgeny Spirin's guilt had been proven and asked for seven years incarceration for him.


"I never was either an organizer or a participant in a forbidden religious organization. I simply profess the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses. My religious convictions are based on the Bible alone," Evgeny Spirin declared in his turn during one of the previous judicial sessions.


The prosecutor requested a prison term for the believer, despite the obvious falsifications in the case. In particular, a handwriting expert confirmed the fabrication of the report of a search in Spirin's home and his former neighbor, during questioning in court, reported that she had not given a negative character reference of the defendant in the case.


The second portion of the debates is scheduled for 14 July 2020. On that day the believer's defense attorney will speak and possibly Evgeny Spirin will also address the court with his final word. Then Judge Yury Gnedin may announce the verdict.


Evgeny Spirin was arrested on 27 January 2019, when about ten intelligence agents in civilian clothing broke down the door to the apartment where he was living with his spouse, Natalia. At the time, friends were visiting the believers, including an 11-year-old child, an 82-year-old retiree, and a 70-year-old disabled woman. Several security officers pushed Evgeny into the kitchen and handcuffed him. Electronic devices, literature, and postcards were taken from the people present. Law enforcers behaved rudely, called the group a "sect," and threatened to subject them to a humiliating search.


The next day Judge Larisa Zubova of the October district court of the city of Ivanovo sent Spirin to the SIZO, where Evgeny spent 5.5 months. The believer spent the same length of time under house arrest. On 18 December 2019, the court ordered Spirin's release from house arrest.


According to the decision of the Working Group on Arbitrary Arrests of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, which examined the case of Evgeny Spirin, the activity of Jehovah's Witnesses has nothing to do with extremism. (tr. by PDS, posted 9 July 2020)



OVD-Info, 9 July 2020


At a session of the Furmanov city court, the prosecutor requested seven years incarceration for Jehovah's Witness Evgeny Spirin from Ivanovo oblast, who is accused of arranging the activity of an extremist organization (part 1 of article 282.2 of the CC). This is reported on the Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia website.


Spirin himself in court maintained that he never was the organizer or a participant of a forbidden organization of Jehovah's Witnesses. He studied the Bible independently and discussed ideas from it with friends. Spirin also noted that he treats representatives of other confessions with respect and he is grateful to the state for providing the right to alternative civilian service, which he had performed readily despite its length (3.5 years).


The case against Spirin was opened in January 2019. According to the account of the investigation, he conducted worship services along with other people, which is interpreted as "arranging the activity of an extremist organization." The believer spent more than 5 months in a SIZO, after which he was sent to house arrest for a little more than 5 months. In December 2019, the measure of restriction for him was not extended. (tr. by PDS, posted 9 July 2020)

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