Long drawn-out case against Jehovah’s Witness ends with conviction


Credo.Press, 14 July 2021


On July 14, Judge Alexander Kozlov of the Zeya district court of Amur oblast sentenced a 45-year-old IT engineer, Konstantin Moiseenko, to a six-year suspended prison term on a charge of organizing extremist activity, for following the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The sentence has not taken legal effect and may be appealed. The believer insists on his complete innocence, a correspondent of the Credo.Press portal reports, citing a source within the Russian Jehovah’s Witnesses.


State prosecutor Erika Shekhtel asked the court to give the believer a penalty of six years real time in a penal colony of medium security.


On 21 March 2019, in Zeya, there were searches in the residence of Konstantin Moiseenko and several other believers. Ten days before this, an investigator of the directorate of the F.S.B. of Russia for Amur oblast, V.S. Obukhov, opened a criminal case against Konstantin on the basis of part 1 of article 282.2 of the CC RF. The investigation lasted 16 months. On 31 August 2020, the case of Konstantin Moiseenko was delivered to the Zeya district court of the Amur oblast. As of the time of submission of the case to the court, it comprised 11 volumes.


The charge relied on video recordings of worship services made by an undercover agent of the F.S.B. A woman feigning interest in the Bible was provided special equipment for audio and video recording.


An expert also participated in the case who was a docent of the department of philosophy of the Far Eastern Institute of Management, Olga Averina, who, despite the official declaration by Russian authorities to the effect that Jehovah’s Witnesses have the right to profess their religion in groups, declared in her expert conclusion: “The very fact of conducting meetings of adherents of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious organization is confirmation of the continuation of the activity of a [banned] organization.” In fact, the Russian Supreme Court did not forbid the profession of the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses but only found their legal entities (totaling 396) to be extremist and liquidated them.


Konstantin Moiseenko explained that Jehovah’s Witnesses voluntarily attend worship services and their very presence at worship meetings is not a crime nor a threat to the security of the state, as the investigation contended.


Moiseenko spent more than two years under a pledge not to leave his place of residence and the court hearings lasted more than 10 months.


The criminal case against the believer was opened simultaneously with another case against yet another resident of Zeya, 78-year-old Vasily Resnichenko, a veteran of labor of the U.S.S.R. He has already been sentenced to a two-year suspended term. In late June 2021, unprecedentedly long terms of punishment were issued to two other believers from Amur oblast: Aleksei Berchuk and Dmitry Golik received 8 and 7 years in a penal colony respectively. In all, 15 believers in the region have faced criminal prosecution because of their faith in Jehovah. (tr. by PDS, posted 14 July 2021)

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