Three courts side with Jehovah's Witness' defense


Kavkazskii Uzel, 20 May 2021


A court in Piatigorsk refused to grant the cassation appeal of the prosecutor against the verdict of acquittal for a Jehovah's Witness from Kabardino-Balkaria, Yury Zalipaev.


As Kavkazskii Uzel wrote, in October of 2020, a Maisky court acquitted Yury Zalipaev in a case concerning calls for extremism. The prosecutor, who demanded two years in a penal colony settlement for the believer, appealed this decision, but the Supreme Court of Kabardino-Balkaria also sided with Zalipaev and confirmed the acquittal verdict and granted to him the right to rehabilitation.


The prosecutor asked that the decisions of both courts be overturned and that the case be sent for a new consideration in the Maisky district, but the cassation court today "completely rejected the representation by the prosecutor," the lawyer Anton Omelchenko, who is representing Zalipaev's interests, told a Kavkazskii Uzel correspondent.


The attorney also reported on plans to address the court in order to obtain for Zalipaev compensation for moral damages.


On 1 March, the prosecutor of the Maisky district sent to Yury Zalipaev official apologies for the baseless criminal prosecution, and this was the first such instance since the activity of Jehovah's Witnesses was banned in Russia. (tr. by PDS, posted 21 May 2021)



Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, 21 May 2021


On 20 May 2021, in Piatigorsk, the Fifth cassation court of general jurisdiction finally confirmed the innocence of a Jehovah's Witness from the city of Maisky, Yury Zalipaev. A panel of three judges under the presidency of Sergei Leontiev, with judges Svetlana Kharrasova and Andrei Zhelezny, completely refused the prosecutor's cassation representation against the verdict of acquittal.


More than ten persons arrived at the courthouse to support Zalipaev, but only the believer himself and his attorney were permitted into the session. It is noteworthy that during the trial the prosecutor did not support a number of the claims advanced in the cassation presentation.


Earlier, on 7 October 2020, Judge Elena Kudriavtseva of the Maisky district court of Kabardino-Balkaria completely acquitted Yury Zalipaev, who was accused of "public calls for conducting extremist activity" (part 1, article 280 CC RF).  However the prosecutor appealed this decision at a higher instance.


Yury Zalipaev was able to get to the Supreme Court of the Kabardino-Balkaria republic only on 22 January 2021 because he and his family contracted the coronavirus infection after a routine search in his house. After hearing the arguments of the believer, Judge Fatimat Chechenova issued an appellate decision—to leave in force the verdict of acquittal of the lower instance.


On 25 February 2021, Prosecutor A.V. Lukianov had to send to Yury Zalipaev official apologies for the harm caused by the unjust criminal prosecution. Nevertheless, the prosecutor's office still appealed the decision in cassation court, which in the end took the side of the believer.


Cassation courts of general jurisdiction appeared in Russia relatively recently, in 2018. One of their purposes is the check on the legality of the rulings of courts of first and appellate instances, which have taken legal effect. Cassation courts of the Russian Federation have already defended the rights of Russian Jehovah's Witnesses several times, for example, in the Christensen case in Orel, the Levchuk and Britvin case in Berezovskii, the case of Abdullaev and others in Makhachkala, and the Savelev case in Novosibirsk.


Meanwhile, the Maisky inter-district investigation department of the S.K.R. for Kabardino-Balkaria republic has undertaken new attempts at criminal prosecution of local Jehovah's Witnesses. In April 2021, 40-year-old Kiril Grushin, a resident of the city of Maisky, was summoned as a defendant on the basis of parts 1 and 1.1 of article 282.2 of the CC RF. At the same time a criminal case was opened on the basis of part 2 of article 282.2 of CC RF against Grushin's wife, Svetlana, and another four women. A criminal case was also opened against 7 women and 2 men from Maisky on the basis of article 308 of CC RF (refusal to give testimony), since the believers exercised the right of article 51 of the Russian constitution not to give testimony against one's self. (tr. by PDS, posted 21 May 2021)

Related article:
Small concession from state for Jehovah's Witness
March 1, 2021

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