Jehovah's Witnesses win partial victory in appeal of verdicts


OVD-Info, 27 February 2021


In Kostroma, the sentence for two Jehovah's Witnesses, the married couple Sergei and Valeria Raiman, was mitigated. They earlier had received suspended sentences of eight and seven years. This was reported by the European Association of Jehovah's Witnesses to OVD-Info.


An appeal of the sentence was reviewed by the Kostroma oblast court on 26 February. At the session, the judge threw out of the charges for both believers the arranging of the activity of an extremist organization (part 1 of article 282.2 of the CC), leaving only participation in it (part 2 of article 282.2 of the CC). In accordance with the clarification of the accusation, Sergei Raiman received a three-year suspended sentence, and Valeria, a two-year suspended sentence.


In his appeal to the court, Sergei Raiman called attention to the 28th article of the constitution, according to which every person has the right to religious convictions and may disseminate them and act in accordance with them.


The court of the first instance announced the verdict in October 2020. The court gave Sergei Raiman a punishment one year longer than the prosecutor had requested during the debates.


The couple was arrested in July 2018 after a series of searches in homes of Jehovah's Witnesses in Kostroma. Armed special forces broke down the door to their apartment.


As a measure of restriction, Valeria Raiman was forbidden to engage in certain activities. Her husband was held in custody for two months, followed by a month of house arrest and prohibition on certain activities.


In September 2019, a court returned the case of the Raiman couple to the prosecutor's office. At the time the court pointed out the vagueness of the wording in the indictment and the lack of evidence of the believers' guilt.


"In this case, there is a legal right to profess the religion of the Jehovah's Witnesses, which has not been outlawed," the court decided at the time. However, in February 2020, the case was again brought into the court proceedings. (tr. by PDS, posted 27 February 2021)

Background articles:
Russian court finally agrees with Jehovah's Witnesses' claims,
October 1, 2019
Longest prison term yet for Jehovah's Witness,
October 9, 2020

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