Russian appeals court leaves harsh punishment of Crimean Jehovah's Witness


Credo.Press, 11 August 2021


A Sevastopol city court declined on 10 August to grant an appeal from the Jehovah's Witness Viktor Stashevsky against the verdict in his case. The panel of judges agreed that his religious activity is criminal; the believer will have to serve 6.5 years in a penal colony of medium security, a correspondent for the Credo.Press portal reports, citing sources among Russian adherents of Jehovah's Witnesses.


On 29 March, Judge Pavel Kryllo of the Gagarin district court of the city of Sevastopol (within the jurisdiction of the R.F.) found Stashevsky guilty of arranging the activity of an extremist community (part 1, article 282.2 CC RF).


On 4 June 2019, searches were conducted in Viktor's home as well as in those of eight believers, during which they were threatened with planting drugs, relatives were blackmailed, and personal property was damaged. For around two years the believer was free under a pledge not to leave his place of residence. After the guilty verdict was announced he was taken to a SIZO.


The 55-year-old Viktor Stashevsky is the father of two girls and the son of an elderly mother, who needs constant care after a stroke. After spending ten years in the navy, Viktor was converted to the faith of the Jehovah's Witnesses. When he delivered his final word in the court of the first instance, Stashevsky noted: "Because of the baseless and false charges, I and my family have already spent two years under constant stress: the pledge not to leave, interrogations, and court sessions. I have been reminded regularly that I was being tried for extremism and I myself have not been able to forget this for a moment. And what have I to do with that? Nothing. There are no victims in my criminal case and there is not even a statement from anybody against me. There's nothing! But a charge has been brought forward, a serious charge. It is baseless!" Addressing the court, Viktor Stashevsky emphasized: "Today is not the first century of our era, nor the time of the medieval inquisition, nor 1937, when the state dictated conditions for people—which God they could believe in and which they cannot."


In Crimea, 12 Jehovah's Witnesses have already been subjected to criminal prosecution and two of them—Sergei Filatov and Artem Gerasimov—are serving prison terms. Experts of a Crimean rights advocacy group have previously declared that imprisonment of Jehovah's Witnesses in Crimea is a part of a complex of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and, consequently, it falls under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights and the International Criminal Court.


As is well known, in April 2017 the Russian Supreme Court ruled that all 396 religious organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia were extremist and it liquidated them. However, in Ukrainian territory the religious organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses function without any restrictions. (tr. by PDS, posted 12 August 2021)



Krymskii Protsess, 10 August 2021


A panel of a Sevastopol city court, including Judge Vasily Arkhimov, left in force the verdict of the court of first instance in the case of Viktor Stashevsky, who was sentenced to six and a half years for arranging the activity of a religious association of Jehovah's Witnesses, who are forbidden in the Russian Federation. This was reported by a Krymskii Protsess correspondent from the Sevastopol city courthouse.


According to his report, the session was held behind closed doors. Stashevsky was not present at the review of the appeal and he participated by means of video conferencing. The review of the appeal took about 40 minutes. The announcement of the sentence was public. Information about the participants in the trial and also information about the decision reached is not available on the official website of the court.


We recall that on 4 June 2019, in Sevastopol, the F.S.B. conducted searches in at least 9 homes of local believers. The 52-year-old Viktor Stashevsky was arrested, but on the next day he was released from the holding cell under a pledge not to leave his place of residence. A criminal case was opened against him on the basis of the article "Arranging the activity of an extremist organization" (part 1, article 282.2 of CC RF). On 29 March of this year the Gagarin district court of Sevastopol sentenced him to six and a half years incarceration to be served in a penal colony of medium security and to restriction on public activity and publishing informational materials for a period of seven years. Stashevsky was placed in custody directly in the courthouse after the announcement of the verdict. (tr. by PDS, posted 12 August 2021)

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