Heavy fines imposed on Jehovah’s Witnesses in Kirov


Viatka-na-Seti, 21 July 2021


The regional Investigative Committee of Russia (S.K.R.) has reported the completion of the judicial investigation and the imposing of a sentence in a criminal case, which was investigated by the first department for investigation of especially serious cases of the investigation department of the Investigative Committee of Russia for Kirov oblast on charges regarding three residents of Kirov oblast.


Depending on the role of each, they were found guilty of committing the crime specified in part 1 of article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the R.F. (arranging the activity of a religious association with respect to which a court has made a decision that has taken legal effect concerning its liquidation because of the conduct of extremist activity).


The activity of the religious organization “Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia” and local religious organizations that were within its structure, including “Jehovah’s Witnesses in the city of Kirov,” is forbidden in Russia (by a decision of the Russia Supreme Court of 20 April 2017, which has taken legal effect).


Formula of the indictment, circumstances of the case: Three residents of Kirov oblast, who are adherents of the aforesaid religious organization, in the period from July 2017 to March 2019, in the city of Kirov, took active steps aimed at the continuation of the illegal activity of the aforesaid organization.


In particular, “they convened members of the congregation for holding religious meetings and training sessions, prepared religious performances and worship services at these meetings, distributed religious literature including literature of extremist contents, engaged in propaganda of the superiority of the religious teaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses over other religions, encouraged citizens to reject medical intervention, and viewed negatively and did not recognize governmental agencies and bodies of local administration,” the press service of the Kirov Investigative Committee writes.


Two of the defendants collected money from members of the congregation in the form of contributions for financing and supporting extremist and preaching activity. During the aforesaid period, they collected at least 119,000 rubles.


Court’s verdict: The defendants were found guilty and were issued a penalty in the form of fines ranging from 200 to 500 thousand rubles. The verdict has not taken legal effect. (tr. by PDS, posted 21 July 2021)



Memorial Human Rights Center, 20 July 2021


Thirty-year-old Andrei Shchepin was fined 500,000 rubles, 60-year-old Alexander Shamov was fined 420,000 rubles, and 72-year-old Evgeny Udintsev was fined 200,000 rubles.


On 19 July, Judge Sergei Shvaitser of the Lenin district court of Kirov found three Jehovah’s Witnesses, Andrei Shcheptin, Alexander Shamov, and Evgeny Udintsev, guilty of arranging the activity of an extremist organization (part 1, article 282.2 of CC RF) and sentenced them to heavy fines. This was reported on the website of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia.


The prosecutor had asked for sentencing Shchepin to four years in a penal colony, Shamov to two years in a colony, and Udintsev to a fine of 600,000 rubles.


It was reported that Shchepin and Shamov also were charged under the article about financing extremist activity (part 1, article 282.3 CC RF), but subsequently this charge was dropped.


The case against Shchepin, Shamov, and Udintsev was opened in March 2019. On 26 March 2019, a series of searches was conducted in homes of believers in Kirov. According to the account of the investigation, from January to November 2018, Shchepin, Shamov, and Udintsev often arranged mass meetings of believers, drew new members into the organization, and studied Jehovah’s Witnesses’ literature that was ruled to be extremist.


In April 2017, the Russian Supreme Court found that the “Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia” was an extremist organization and liquidated it. In August of the same year, all congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses were placed on the list of forbidden extremist organizations.


The Memorial Human Rights Center considers the arrested Jehovah’s Witnesses to be political prisoners and demands halting the prosecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses because of their religious affiliation. (tr. by PDS, posted 21 July 2021)

Background articles:
Five Jehovah's Witnesses arrested in Kirov
October 9, 2018
Raids du jour on Jehovah's Witnesses
March 26, 2019

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