Jehovah's Witness triumphs in high court over prosecution


Kavkazskii Uzel, 25 January 2021


Today the Supreme Court of Kabardino-Balkaria refused to overturn the verdict of acquittal in the case of Jehovah's Witness Yury Zalipaev, contrary to the position of the prosecutor's office. Zalipaev has been granted the right to rehabilitation.


As Kavkazskii Uzel has reported, in October 2020, the Maisky court in Kabardino-Balkaria acquitted Yury Zalipaev, who had been accused of inciting extremism. The prosecutor, who requested for him two years in a penal colony, appealed this decision, with the request to return the case for a new consideration in the same court with a different composition. Zalipaev himself declared on 22 January that "I could not say what I was accused of" and the materials of the case contain "all the evidence of his innocence."


The Kabardino-Balkaria Supreme Court refused to overturn the decision of the district court, which acquitted Yury Zalipaev. His attorney, Anton Omelchenko, said that the verdict has taken legal effect. "It is nice to see that the law has triumphed," the defense attorney summarized. The attorney also said that he intends to take to the court the issue of paying compensation to Zalipaev for moral damages.


We recall that in January 2019, a judge of the Maisky district court terminated the case of arousing hatred and demeaning human dignity because of the partial decriminalization of the criminal article. Zalipaev was granted the right to rehabilitation on this article, but the accusation of publicly inciting extremist activity remained in effect.


The law on partial decriminalization of article 282 of the Criminal Code was passed by the State Duma on 19 December 2018. According to the text of the law, actions intended to arouse hatred or strife or the demeaning of human dignity based on sex, race, nationality, language, ancestry, or religion committed publicly, including by means of news media or through the internet, will be considered criminally punishable in the event that they were committed after having been held accountable administratively, the report on the website of the State Duma says,


Zalipaev himself today delivered his final statement. "Witnesses for the prosecution and witnesses for the defense told the court directly contradictory things about me. And now 13 volumes have been written about me. That is something to be proud of!" the believer said ironically, emphasizing that it is not the quantity of materials gathered about him that he takes pride in but the fact that "I am free from those feelings of which I am accused." "I could be sure that love, joy, peace, and generosity are not empty sounds for me," Zalipaev said. He also declared that he does not experience fear in the face of justice, but on the contrary he rejoices inasmuch as during the prosecution he became convinced of the support of his friends.


On 12 November 2020, security forces conducted searches in the homes of five Jehovah's Witnesses in Tyrnyauz, as well as in Yury Zalipaev's home. Members of the Zalipaev family were arrested and after a stay in the police department, Yury, his son, and daughter-in-law came down with the coronavirus. The searches were prompted by the suspicion of participation in the activity of forbidden organizations. The believers' defense attorney filed complaints about the actions of the security forces.


All of Yury Zalipaev's relatives who were ill with COVID-19 have recovered, Omelchenko noted. "An investigative determination is being conducted on the complaints of the believers," the lawyer noted. (tr. by PDS, posted 26 January 2021)

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