Three-year-old case against Jehovah's Witnesses delayed again


SOVA Center for News and Analysis, 22 September 2021


On 16 September, a Shuya city court of Ivanovo oblast returned to the prosecutor the case of the Jehovah's Witnesses Dmitry and Elena Mikhailov, Svetlana Ryzhkova, Svetlana Shishinaia, and Aleksei Arkhipov. The court concluded that the indictment was composed with violations of the requirements of the Criminal Procedural Code, according to the SOVA Center for News and Analysis (which is considered by the authorities of the R.F. to be a foreign agent, but which challenges this decision).


Dmitry Mikhailov was charged on the basis of parts 1 and 2 of article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the R.F. (arranging the activity of an extremist organization and participating in it) and part 1 of article 282.3 CC RF (financing extremist activity). Elena Mikhailova and Ryzhkova are charged on the basis of part 2 of article 282.2 and part 1 of article 282.3 CC RF, and Arkhipov and Shishina are charged only on the basis of part 2 of article 282.2. They are accused of participating in religious meetings of a forbidden local congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses and collecting money for these meetings.


The case against Mikhailov was opened back in April 2018 and in May the charge on article 282.3 was added, after which he was detained in custody. In June, cases were opened against the other defendants. In November 2018, Mikhailov was released from the SIZO on his own recognizance and the others were under a signed pledge not to leave their place of residence for the duration of the investigation. In September 2020 the investigation of the case was completed, but in December the prosecutor's office returned it to the investigation for correction. After this, the actions of the defendants were partially reclassified. On 1 July of this year the case was brought to the court and its consideration was begun in August.


The accusation of the Jehovah's Witnesses as participating in the activity of a forbidden organization is connected with the fact that in April 2017, the Russian Supreme Court made a decision finding the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia and 395 local religious organizations of this confession to be extremist. (tr. by PDS, posted 22 September 2021)

Background articles:
New tactic against Jehovah's Witnesses:  charge them with economic crime,
May 31, 2018
Jehovah's Witness to spend two months in jail without trial
January 29, 2019

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