Another Jehovah's Witness convicted in Birobidzhan


Credo.Press, 19 August 2021


On 19 August, Judge Vasilina Bezotecheskikh of the Birobidzhan district court found the Jehovah's Witness Anastasia Guzeva guilty of participating in the activity of an extremist organization and sentenced her to a suspended prison term of 2.5 years, two years of probation, and one year of restricted liberty, a correspondent for the Credo.Press portal reported, citing a source among the Russian Jehovah's Witnesses.


The believer did not admit guilt. Addressing the court with her final word, she emphasized: "Although I was presented a serious charge, there are no victims of my actions, as presumably there usually are in criminal cases. There is no direct intent, nor actions, nor socially dangerous actions, nor disrespect of human dignity, nor objective or subjective aspects of a crime, nor incidents where any of my actions caused harm, suffering, or injury to others. Therefore I have not averted my eyes out of shame and I always arrived at the court sessions and left with a pure conscience." Anastasia Guzeva intends to appeal the sentence in appellate court.


Before her criminal prosecution, the believer worked in a music school where she proved herself to be a responsible and cooperative fellow employee. Her husband, Konstantin, also worked there. When her supervisor, a former police officer, learned about the decision of the Russian Supreme Court regarding Jehovah's Witnesses, he summoned the Guzevs to his office and said: "You are extremists and there is no place for extremists in a children's institution."


In May 2018, a search was conducted in the Guzevs' house, which lasted ten hours. In July 2019, a criminal case against Konstantin for his faith was opened, and on 6 February 2020 Anastasia was charged. The case against her was investigated for six and a half months by Denis Yankin, a criminal investigator of the department of the Russian F.S.B. for the Jewish autonomous oblast. From 19 February 2020 the believer has been free on her own recognizance, and on 27 February 2020 she was entered into Rosfinmonitoring's list of terrorists and extremists.


On 19 August 2020, the case was taken to trial. The witness for the prosecution was police officer Yulia Zvereva, who also gave evidence in at least 15 other trials against Birobidzhan believers. She acknowledged that she had not heard extremist statements from any of them.


As is known, in April 2017 the Russian Supreme Court ruled all 396 religious organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia to be extremist and it liquidated them, after which widespread criminal prosecutions of believers of this confession began. (tr. by PDS, posted 19 August 2021)

Background articles:
Nineteen Jehovah's Witnesses on trial in Birobidzhan region
January 21, 2021
14 Jehovah's Witnesses on trial in small Jewish region
February 12, 2021

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