Four Jehovah's Witnesses fail to erase criminal record


Za prava cheloveka, 29 October 2020


On 28 October, the Briansk oblast court reviewing an appellate complaint against the sentence of four Jehovah's Witnesses (an organization considered extremist in the R.F.) from Novozybkov left it in force. As reported on the website of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, Vladimir Khokhlov, Eduard Zhinzhikov, Tatiana Shamsheva, and Olga Silaeva remain at liberty because they had already served the time imposed on them in the pretrial investigation cell (SIZO).


Speaking at the hearing, the believers declared that they do not acknowledge their guilt and that the sentence issued for them is a manifestation of discrimination on the basis of religion. "The court considered it a crime that I viewed various religious videos, listened to religious songs, and discussed religious topics," Olga Silaeva maintained. "But during the examination of these materials in the trial it was evident that all of them evoke only the demonstration of love and empathy for people . . . and love is completely contradictory to extremism."


"The error of the investigation consists in not distinguishing the concepts 'Jehovah's Witnesses' and 'Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia,'" Tatiana Shamsheva declared. "After the decision of the court of 20 April 2017 took effect, did I have to cease being a Jehovah's Witness? Stop reading the Bible, praying, and talking with other about my convictions, or change my lifestyle? If I will not pray and read the Word of God, then what kind of believer am I?"


We recall that Vladimir Khokhlov, Tatiana Shamsheva, Olga Silaeva, and Eduard Zhinzhikov are accused of organizing and financing an extremist community and participating in it (parts 1 and 2, article 282.2 of the CC RF, part 1, article 282.3 of the CC RF). They were arrested on 11 June 2019 during widespread searches in the cities of Unech and Novozybkov and the village of Klimovo. The believers were placed in a SIZO by decision of the Novozybkov city court. On 17 October 2019, the investigation department merged the criminal cases of Shamsheva, Silaeva, Zhinzhkov, and Khokhlov into a single proceeding. The investigation was conducted by Justice Captain R.Yu. Bogatyrev.


On 8 September 2020, the Novozybkov city court sentenced Vladimir Khokhlov, sisters Tatiana Shamsheva and Olga Silaeva, and brother Eduard Zhinzhikov to prison terms up to a year and three months in a penal colony of general regime. At the same time, the court took into account the time the believers spent in custody before the sentence was issued, and therefore the Jehovah's Witnesses were set free from the courtroom. (tr. by PDS, posted 29 October 2020)

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