MEMBER OF CONGREGATION OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES BANNED IN RUSSIA FROM SARATOV ASKS TO REPLACE TIME IN PENAL COLONY WITH FINE
SarInform, 28 October 2020
The Dimitrovgrad city court of Ulianovsk oblast refused a member of the Saratov congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses (ruled to be extremist and its activity banned on Russian territory), Konstantin Bazhenov, his petition to substitute a milder punishment for his unserved time in a penal colony. This was reported by the press service of the court.
We recall that on 19 September 2019, the Lenin district court of Saratov issued a guilty verdict and found six members of the extremist organization guilty. Konstantin Bazhenov received three and a half years incarceration. He was found guilty of arranging on the territory of Saratov the activity of an extremist organization of Jehovah's Witnesses that is forbidden in Russia.
A little later, in December 2019, all members of the group tried to appeal the sentence in Saratov oblast court. However the judicial panel for criminal cases came to the conclusion that the Saratovans did not preach a religious cult but carried out organizational work. They supported the illegal activity of the organization while knowing about its liquidation by the Supreme Court in 2017. The judicial panel also noted that citizens can believe the doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses "by means and methods that are not forbidden by law." The appellate instance agreed with the guilty verdict of the Lenin district court.
In August 2020, Bazhenov was transferred to "milder conditions of detention" in the penal colony. Bazhenov's lawyer described how in prison the member of the banned congregation mastered the professions of painter and carpenter and also got a specialty of "operator of electro-plating jobs."
"One organization is already prepared to employ him in a position of driver, with the possibility of receiving a social package," the convict's lawyer added.
On 21 September of this year, the lawyer of the convicted Bazhenov petitioned for replacing the unserved portion of the prison term with a fine. As of that time, the member had served more than half of his term, including a stay in a Saratov SIZO. Documents were registered in the court on 2 October. The judicial hearing in Bazhenov's case was held today. "Bazhenov's petition was denied," a SarInform correspondent was told in the courthouse. (tr. by PDS, posted 28 October 2020)
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