Prosecutor tries to overturn victory of Jehovah's Witness in south of Russia


Kavkazskii Uzel, 23 January 2021


The Jehovah's Witness Yury Zalipaev, whose acquittal is being appealed before the Supreme Court of Kabardino-Balkaria, declared that he did not call for extremism, which the materials of the case confirm.


As Kavkazskii Uzel wrote, on 7 October a court in Kabardino-Balkaria acquitted the Jehovah's Witness from Maisky Yury Zalipaev, who was accused of calling for extremism. However the prosecutor, who requested for him two years in a penal colony, appealed the verdict of acquittal. On 12 November, security forces conducted searches in the homes of five Jehovah's Witnesses in Tyrnyauz and also in Yury Zalipaev's home. Members of Zalipaev's family were arrested and after a stay at the police department, he, his son, and daughter-in-law came down with the coronavirus, attorney Anton Omelchenko declared.


The case of Yury Zalipaev was considered by a Maisky district court of Kabardino-Balkaria beginning on 16 July 2018. The prosecution declared that while preaching in the Kingdom Hall (the house of worship of Jehovah's Witnesses), Zalipaev spoke disparagingly about Muslims and Orthodox believers and called for beating them. In addition, according to the prosecution, Zalipaev distributed religious literature that was included in the Federal List of Forbidden Materials. Zalipaev did not acknowledge guilt.

On 23 January, the Supreme Court of Kabardino-Balkaria began considering the appeal of the state prosecution against Zalipaev's verdict of acquittal. The circumstances of the case were declared in the session and the opinions of the sides were heard, a Kavkazskii Uzel correspondent related.


Yury Zalipaev had not been present in the place where, according to the prosecution's account, he called for extremism, attorney Anton Omelchenko pointed out.


The prosecutor requested to read out the transcript of questioning of witnesses that occurred during the investigation. The attorney declared that reading these materials at the appellate court is illegal according to the Criminal Procedural Code. As a result, the court refused to grant the prosecution's petition.


Yury Zalipaev asked the court to leave without satisfaction the petition of the state prosecution for overturning the verdict. He said that during his preaching, he urged the audience to be kind to one another, to sympathize, and to be generous. "I could not have said anything of which I am accused. For several years, while sorting out bit by bit the events of the summer of 2016, the district court came to the conclusion that I did not speak such words," Zalipaev pointed out.


"Returning the case for a new consideration will drag it out yet several years more, since it is necessary to repeat the investigation, question dozens of witnesses again, listen to audio recordings, read through the volumes of the case, conduct expert analyses again, and question experts," he noted. In his opinion, the materials of the case contain all the evidence of his innocence.


The arguments of the appeal that were submitted were examined in detail in the court, Anton Omelchenko said in commenting on the session. "This gives the hope that the court's decision will be fair," he said to a Kavkazskii Uzel correspondent. (tr. by PDS, posted 23 January 2021)

Background articles:
Jehovah's Witness walks free in south of Russia
October 7, 2020
Drawn-out trial reaches conclusion for Jehovah's Witness
September 22, 2020

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