Appeals court reviews harsh sentences of Jehovah's Witnesses


OVD-Info, 3 September 2021


The Amur oblast court reviewed the appeals of the Jehovah's Witnesses Dmitry Golik and Aleksei Berchuk, who had been sentenced to 7 and 8 years in a prison colony respectively. OVD-Info was told this in the European Association of Jehovah's Witnesses.


The sentence of the 45-year-old Aleksei Berchuk—8 years in a penal colony of ordinary regime on a charge of arranging the activity of an extremist organization (part 1 of article 282.2 of the C.C.)—was left without changes.


A charge of recruiting into the activity of an extremist organization was dropped from the verdict on Dmitry Golik, leaving just the charge of arranging the activity of an extremist organization. The believer's prison term was shortened by 10 months; it will consist of 6 years and 2 months with a subsequent restriction of liberty for 1 year and 2 months. The remaining part of the decision of the court of first instance was left without changes. The sentence has taken legal effect. Berchuk and Golik still insist on their innocence.


On 30 June the Blagoveshchensk city court of Amur oblast sentenced Berchuk and Golik to 8 and 7 years in a penal colony. These were the very terms that the prosecutor had requested.


Berchuk was arrested in January 2019 in a Moscow airport while going through passport control. In October 2017, agents of the F.S.B. began conducting covert video recording of his personal life and worship services in Blagoveshchensk. In June 2018, a criminal case was opened against 43-year-old Aleksei Berchuk. A month later searches were conducted under the leadership of an investigator of the F.S.B. in the homes of seven Jehovah's Witnesses families.


After the announcement of the sentence of Golik and Berchuk, Golik's wife, Kristina, and another three women believers became subjects of a new criminal case. According to information from the European Association of Jehovah's Witnesses, as of the end of August 2021, 20 Jehovah's Witnesses have already been subjected to criminal prosecution for their faith in Amur oblast. Four of them, including Berchuk and Golik, have already been convicted. (tr. by PDS, posted 3 September 2021)

Background articles:
Two long-time Jehovah's Witnesses given harsh sentences
June 30, 2021
Security service in Blagoveshchensk relentless in pursuit of Jehovah's Witnesses
August 2, 2021

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