Consequences for Jehovah's Witnesses after completing sentences


Kavkazskii Uzel, 31 December 2020


Jehovah's Witnesses from Sochi Viacheslav Popov and Nikolai Kuzichkin turned for help to physicians after they were released from a SIZO. The believers themselves described this.


As Kavkazskii Uzel reported, on 29 December the verdict of the court took effect in the case of Jehovah's Witnesses Nikolai Kuzichkin and Viacheslav Popov. The convicts decided not to appeal it, since this would permit Popov to be freed more quickly, an attorney explained. On the same day, Viacheslav Popov was released.


On the morning of 30 December, Viacheslav Popov arrived in Sochi from Armavir, where he has been kept in a SIZO. At the train station he was met by relatives and friends. Popov said that despite the happy events—release and meeting relatives—he feels very ill physically and he is going to the doctors in order to take a test for COVID-19. "I feel very weak. High temperature, weakness, lack of appetite. . . . I felt bad after the trial. After the verdict was rendered I was again placed in a SIZO, in Armavir from Sochi. It was a hard trip. As usual, it was cold, smoky, lack of elementary conditions. It is possible that it was during transit from Sochi to Armavir that I was infected, Viachslav Popov told a Kavkazskii Uzel correspondent.


He noted that the conditions of detention in the Armavir SIZO were tolerable. The institution is observing preventive measures for the coronavirus and patients with positive tests for COVID-19 are held in single rooms. "It was my faith that helped me survive there. . . . I will condemn nobody for the unjust sentence. I hope that both the investigators and the judges, who accused me, will some day understand that to condemn a person and hold him prisoner for his faith is inhumane," Popov noted.


In his opinion, a court finds Jehovah's Witnesses guilty of extremism for the fact that they are believers. "We choose not to dispute, because Jehovah's Witnesses respect the opinions of all people, the more so people entrusted with authority and governmental power. We consider that life itself will render its own verdict and determine who is right and who isn't," Viacheslav Popov noted.


According to Nikolai Kuzichkin, after a year spent in a SIZO, his faith has only been strengthened. "In the time I was in the SIZO I was sitting in the same cell as murderers, thieves, and cheats who committed the most varied kinds of crimes. But it is these people who need spiritual help and the thirst for spirituality in prison, in isolation from society, is very great. I suggest that the Department of Corrections should think about how to not lose people in prisons and not embitter them but rather to prepare full-fledged and morally healthy people for entry into freedom," Kuzichkin told a Kavkazskii Uzel correspondent.


The correctional system in Russia needs reform, he declared. "A really great amount of time was spent on Popov and me, but nevertheless I do not regret anything. I regard what happened as a test that was sent to me so that I could see with my own eyes and describe for you the need for reform of the legal, investigation, and corrections system in Russia," the believer said.


Kuzichkin also reported that after his release he faced problems. "Despite the fact that I served my sentence, I immediately got a job because my family had lost me as a breadwinner. I got a job and began tuning pianos. They were waiting for me at the philharmonic and were very happy at my return. I also missed my job. The question arose about where to send my pay. I went to the bank and asked that my card be unblocked where my pay can be entered, but the girl in Sberbank, who took my passport, looked at it for a long time and then said to me that they do not deal with such clients since I am on some 'list of extremists,'" he explained.


In his opinion, such a thing pushes those who have served their sentence to new crimes. "Does it turn out that if you have been convicted, then you do not have the right to receive for your honest labor white pay through a bank? Does it turn out that they must pay me black-wise in an envelope?" he questioned.


The believer added that after release he had to go to the doctor. "At the present time the question is being resolved about surgical intervention in the treatment of my thyroid gland which grew on the nerves and makes it hard for me to breathe. Also I need an operation for a thrombosis on the genitourinary system," Nikolai Kuzichkin explained.


Lawyer Sergei Yanovsky thinks that the cases against the Jehovah's Witnesses are being invented and investigation on orders from above. "I know from the materials of the case that cases against 30 Jehovah's Witnesses, who were witnesses, have been separated into individual proceedings," Sergei Yanovsky said.


An independent lawyer, Sergei Kostiuk, noted that "the sentence itself and the time served are not reasons for persecuting the convicts in their usual life." Any phenomenon connected with the violation of the rights of a person for the fact that he served time in a place of incarceration is discrimination, he told a Kavkazskii Uzel correspondent. (tr. by PDS, posted 4 January 2021)

Relatively light, but unjustified, sentences for Jehovah's Witnesses in south Russia
December 19, 2020

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Editorial disclaimer: RRN does not intend to certify the accuracy of information presented in articles. RRN simply intends to certify the accuracy of the English translation of the contents of the articles as they appeared in news media of countries of the former USSR.

If material is quoted, please give credit to the publication from which it came. It is not necessary to credit this Web page. If material is transmitted electronically, please include reference to the URL,