Support for Jehovah's Witnesses prisoners needed


Kavkazskii Uzel, 8 December 2020


An appeals court left in force a decision to extend by six months the detention of the Rostov Jehovah's Witnesses Parkov and Avanesov, who are charged in a case concerning an extremist organization. The believers' relatives described the difficulties their families have had to contend with in the year and a half of the criminal prosecution.


As Kavkazskii Uzel has written, Alexander Parkov, Vilen Avanesov, and Arsen Avanesov were arrested on 22 May 2019 and since then they have been kept in custody. They are charged for arranging the activity of an extremist organization. The believers, including the elderly Vilen Avanesov, have often requested a mitigation of the measure of restriction, but every time they have been refused. Meanwhile, the court hearing on the merits of their case began only on 19 November 2020, and at that time the judge, on the basis of a petition of the investigator, extended the detention for all three at the same time by six months.


On 7 December, the Rostov oblast court considered an appeal by the Avanesovs and Parkov and refused to grant it, and it left in force an order of the Lenin district court extending the believers' detention until 2 May 2021, an employee of the oblast court press service told a Kavkazskii Uzel correspondent.


Galina Parkova forced to combine work with court and work with needs of husband in pretrial cell


Alexander Parkov is 53 years old, and his children are already grown, the believer's spouse, Galina Parkova, told the Kavkazskii Uzel correspondent. She said that until his arrest, Alexander Parkov worked as a craftsman in the manufacture of copper objects, and it is now more than a year and a half, while Parkov has been held in the investigation cell, that the family has had material difficulties. Galina Parkova herself was also charged on the basis of the article concerning participation in the activity of an extremist organization, and she is free on her own recognizance while the court is hearing her case separately from the case of her husband.


"Of course it is difficulty for me. I work hard. The SIZO is an expensive pleasure. Besides, my husband often complains of pain in his stomach. He tries to observe a diet as far as the conditions of the SIZO permit and I bring him medicine," Galina Parkova explained.


Because of the criminal prosecution, Galina Parkova's card has been blocked and this presents her complications with arranging work. "Because my card is blocked, I registered as self-employed with the tax agency and I provide housekeeping services. If it were not for my daughter, I would not cope with such a burden; she often helps me with cleaning," the believer shared.


Parkova said that her husband in the SIZO is not permitted telephone calls, and visits, even short term, now are forbidden because of the coronavirus pandemic. There also were difficulties because of the pandemic with getting deliveries in the cell.


"There was a quarantine for one month and it was only possible to send a parcel, but it is now more than two weeks since delivery of parcels was restored. Letters pass to and from him fine. He tries not to complain in the letters and he wants to support me morally more. He knows that I have a bad back and now I have to work a lot and besides I have myself two court sessions a week," Glaina Parkova described the situation in the family because of the criminal prosecution.


The daughter of Alexander and Galina Parkova, Irina, described for a Kavkazskii Uzel correspondent how fellow believers from various countries have supported her father in the SIZO with letters. "During the pandemic, we did not correspond, and now my parents are preparing a lot for the trials. But before the pandemic I managed to get a two-hour meeting. We brought from the SIZO around 50 kilograms of letters, children's drawings, postcards with words of support, and photographs. Many of them are foreign, but they were written in Russian, since only letters in Russian are permitted in SIZO-1," Irina Parkova explained.


The elderly Stella Avanesova has waited more than a year and a half for her husband and son from the SIZO


The wife of Vilen Avanesov and mother of Arsen Avanesov, Stella Avanesova, described for a Kavkazskii Uzel correspondent the effect of the criminal prosecution on the Avanesov family.


"My husband and I have been married 40 years now. At the time of his arrest, he was on a well-deserved retirement. Our son, Arsen, is 37 years old. He graduated from university with a degree in engineering for biological medical practice. But he did not go to work in his specialty because it pays little, and he went to work as a tinsmith in order to provide for his family—two retired parents with a social security pension of 9,000 rubles. It is our son who is the main provider and housekeeper. From my pension of 9,000, almost 6,000 go for utilities. Therefore it is very hard; they [husband and son] are in need. They have been detained [in custody] a long time. Two prisoners 'to support' is very difficult on such a pension. If it were not for the support of fellow believers, obviously it would be impossible," the elderly believer shared.


She said that meetings with her husband and son were not permitted for a long time. "But just before the quarantine the investigator allowed a meeting and I managed to get to the meeting with my husband and I prepared for meeting with my son but then the next day the quarantine was declared. Now it is necessary to get meetings from the judge," the woman complained.


Stella Avanesova learned that her son has been sick in the cell for a week now. "He has a cough, sore throat, and runny nose. But there is no medicine in the SIZO that would treat all that. I will go to deliver medicines tomorrow, but I do not know whether they will take them or not. I worry for Vilen a lot, since he is 68 years old and he is in the risk group for the coronavirus," she explained on 7 December. (tr. by PDS, posted 8 December 2020)


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