Trial court applies recent Supreme Court ruling in favor of Jehovah's Witness


Novaia Gazeta, 22 November 2021


The Pervorechka district court in Vladivostok ruled that the Jehovah's Witness Dmitry Barmakin was not guilty in a case concerning the arranging of the activity of a religious association that had been ruled to be extremist (Part 1 of article 282.2 of CC RF) and recognized his right to rehabilitation. This was reported by the Jehovah's Witnesses themselves on their website.


The believers note that this was the first acquittal of a Witness with regard to such a crime.


Judge Stanislav Salnikov noted that "for all believers, religious rituals are forms of legal conduct which are a part of freedom of conscience and freedom of religious confession."


The court also emphasized that the conduct of services of Jehovah's Witnesses "cannot be restricted exclusively to the space of personal private life; it can be exercised also in the external sphere, including in collective group forms."


Barmakin was also acquitted because the court did not see evidence of the motives of a crime in his case. Judge Salnikov indicated in his verdict that the Jehovah's Witnesses' ideology itself has not been ruled to be extremist in the R.F. and the Bible cannot be considered to be extremist material.


Security personnel arrested Barmakin on 28 July 2018 and later a court sent him to the SIZO.  Almost a year and a half later the man's measure of restriction was changed to a ban on certain activities. A criminal case for extremism was also opened against Barmakin's wife, Elena.


In late October a plenum of the Russian Supreme Court ruled that meetings and worship services of Jehovah's Witnesses cannot be considered to be extremist activity. The ruling indicates that what is considered to be participation in the activity of an extremist organization is conducting conversations for purposes of promoting the activity of a banned organization or immediate participation in ongoing events or the like.


Prosecution of Jehovah's Witnesses believers began in 2017 after a decision of the Supreme Court ruling this organization to be extremist. Since then, criminal cases have regularly been initiated against its adherents, searches have been conducted in their homes, and rights advocates have reported torture of believers. (tr. by PDS, posted 23 November 2021)

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