Jehovah's Witness granted reduced punishment


by Ivan Zhuravkov

7x7, 3 August 2020


The Pskov oblast court replaced real prison time with a suspended sentence for 61-year-old Jehovah's Witness Gennady Shpakovsky, 7x7 was told at the court's administration.


"I am shocked by this decision. It is possible that the prosecutor's office will appeal it. Shpakovsky will be released shortly; documents for his release have already been issued," Arli Chimirov, the defendant's lawyer, told 7x7.


Shpakovsky was previously sentenced by a Pskov city court to 6.5 years in a penal colony on a charge of arranging the activity of a local cell of Jehovah's Witnesses and of financing an extremist organization.


During the debates of the sides, the prosecutor asked for giving Shpakovsky 7.5 years in a penal colony with subsequent restriction of liberty for 1.5 years—the longest prison term that had been discussed in trials during the persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in modern Russia.


In the summer of 2018, a criminal case was initiated against him after a search in the home of Gennady Shpakovsky. A trial was held in the autumn of 2019. At the trial it was revealed that back before the search, personnel of the regional F.S.B. surveilled the believer: a camera and audio recorder were installed in his home and all his actions on a computer were read. In March 2020, Shpakovsky's fellow believers were not admitted to the trial because of the coronavirus.


In 2017 the Russian Supreme Court banned and liquidated the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia as an extremist organization. After that, representatives of the confession began complaining that Russian security agents have viewed their religious confession as membership in a forbidden organization. (tr. by PDS, posted 3 August 2020)



Bezformata, 3 August 2020


A court replaced real-time imprisonment for Pskov Jehovah's Witness Gennady Shpakovsky, who was sentenced to 6.5 years in a penal colony, with a suspended sentence, Severo-Zapad MBKh Media writes.


The decision for real-time imprisonment for 6.5 years was made earlier by a Pskov city court. In the context of an appeal of the case, on 3 August the Pskov oblast court changed the punishment to a suspended sentence.


An appeal of the sentence was filed not only by the lawyer but also by Gennady Shpakovsky himself. In it he wrote that he had been convicted for actions that are not a crime but, on the contrary, are guaranteed by the constitution as rights and freedoms that belong from birth.


He also appealed his incarceration in the courtroom inasmuch as he had not obstructed justice and did not plan to run away. "Since the court's sentence has not taken effect, then my guilt has still not been proved and there is no basis to keep me in custody," Shpakovsky noted.


We recall that Gennady Shpakovsky was found guilty on 9 June of creating and financing a forbidden organization and he was sentenced to 6.5 years in a penal colony of general regime.


The prosecutor's office had asked for the longest term in the history of modern Russia for Gennady Shpakovsky—7.5 years imprisonment. He did not acknowledge his guilt and he stressed, while delivering his final word in the Pskov city court, that he was being convicted purely for his faith. (tr. by PDS, posted 3 August 2020)


Background articles:
New level of severity of punishment of Jehovah's Witnesses reached
June 9, 2020

New level of harsh penalty requested for Jehovah's Witness
June 3, 2020

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